Street photographers are all amateurs. Not to say that we lack skill, insight, or vision– but that we do street photography for the love of it (not the money). Although people typically equate calling someone an amateur in a negative way, the word amateur roots from French meaning “love of.”
I know very few (if any) street photographers that make a living doing only entirely street photography. Honestly in this day and age– I would say it is near impossible. However, us street photographers try to take out every minute of our days and free time to go out and do what we truly love doing–shooting in the streets.
Having a passion for street photography for the pure reason of loving photography is beautiful. There is nothing better than wandering the streets, stumbling upon serendipity, as well as meeting fascinating people along the way. Not only that, but there is no greater joy than getting “The Shot”–rushing home–downloading your photos to your computer–processing them–and finally uploading them on the internet for others to appreciate as well.
When I realized that I shoot street photography purely for the love of it and not for the money, I tried my best to take away the temptation of making money from my passion. I knew this would only cause me to be miserable and lose the true sight of why I love photography. In-fact, I hear many photographers who go into commercial and wedding photography…they feel that photography is more of a bore and a chore than their passion. I never want this to happen to myself.
Sure I could always use a bit of extra money–but I knew that I wanted to spread the love of photography rather than making myself richer. Therefore I founded The Sukhee Chung Photography Foundation which strives to spread the love of street photography to under-privileged youth. I have already raised enough cameras for the high school class I am teaching (with a very generous grant from Jonathan Murray) and am looking forward to helping out other photography programs in Los Angeles as well.
So remember–shoot street for the love, not for the money (as my good street photographer friend Thomas Leuthard loves to mention). Be an amateur and truly bask in it. Before there is nothing more noble than doing something purely for the love of it.