5 Things that Piss Me Off as a Street Photographer

"Black Girl with Baby" - Damon Pablo

I would say that I’m a pretty mellow and easy-going guy. However as a street photographer, there are some things that really bug me or really annoy me. Hope you have a good laugh and can relate to these 5 things that piss me off as a street photographer.

1. Forgetting my battery/memory card at home

Where are you when I need you?

We have all experienced it as a street photographer one time or another in our lives. You go out, feeling fresh and ready to go out and take some photos. You walk around, and take our your camera–ready to take photos. You turn on your camera and bring your camera to your eye and press the shutter, but nothing happens. You check to see what is wrong, and you notice that you either forgot to put in your battery (which is still charging at home) or left your memory card in your card reader at home.

Solution? I always make it a point to carry a spare battery/memory card on me at all times. This has definitely saved me a lot of headache as of late–and I highly recommend everybody else to do the same.

2. Accidentally opening up my film camera with film still inside

Doing this really sucks (after you start shooting)

Recently I started to shoot with my old Contax IIIa Film Rangefinder, and had the unfortunate experience of accidentally opening up my camera, forgetting that there was film inside. This has probably ruined about 5 rolls so far, which is frustrating as hell (as I never was able to see what those photos I took came out). After having this happen to me several times, it made me appreciate digital so much more, but at the same time– realize how hard that film street photographers have it.

Solution? I have a terrible memory so if my camera doesn’t have any film in it, I put a sticky note on it as a reminder.

3. People who say that my camera takes really good photos

"Chilling" - shot with a disposable camera

"Chilling" - shot with a disposable camera

I know it is cliche, but it is still annoying as hell when people say this to me. I try not to take too much offense to the comment, as I think its more ignorance than a means to undermine my work as a street photographer.

Solution? The next time that person has you over and cooks you a really nice meal, you should tell them, “The food was really delicious! You must have great pots and pans.”

4. People who call my shots “really lucky”

"Jack Laxer" - shot in Santa Monica

"Jack Laxer" - shot in Santa Monica

Although there is undoubtedly a certain aspect of “luck” when it comes to street photography, it is much more the discipline of the street photographer that gets him/her great shots. The street photographer has to be on the streets as much as he/she can, which allows them to be presented with many different opportunities. Not only that, but an unskilled photographer will be unable to capture great images, even if luck is on his/her side.

Solution? Call all of their achievements in life lucky as well (okay I have to admit–that’s a bit snarky).

5. Missing the decisive moment

"The Gatekeeper" - Lebanon

"The Gatekeeper" - Lebanon

Although I try my best to always be ready and prepared for the decisive moment, but there are times I a half second too early or late to capture it. Although I try my best to let it slide, it is still pretty frustrating nonetheless.

Solution? Let yourself know that it is “ok” to miss the decisive moment every once in a while. Sometimes we will miss the decisive moment due to human error, other times by being lazy and not having our camera on us.

So what pisses you off as a street photographer? Leave a comment below and give us all a great laugh!

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  • http://www.riffspics.com Glenn Riffey

    I have to agree mostly with number three, about the camera taking good photos. I don’t know how many times when people see my youth sports photos, for instance, they’ll take a look at my DSLR and say something like, “If I had a camera like that I could take great photos like yours as well.” Most of the time I’ll just smile, but I really want to tell them to try it sometime… but hold on to the camera receipt…

    It’s the same for the little bit of street photography that I do. That’s why I try to do most of that with my Canon G11, just to show that a bigger & better camera won’t make you a better photographer, especially if you can’t capture good images now with what you already have…

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      The g11 is definitely a great cam–and shows it is the photographer, not the camera that takes great shots!

    • Walter

      How about we give these people who claim to take “Great photos” all by themselves, despite their cameras, who have used DSLRs and point and shoots all their lives– Let’s give them a nice large format camera from the early 1900’s and have THEM take a photo for us that’s as good as those shots that THEY took with their DSLRs.

      Is it really all about us? I think we need to be giving a little more credit to the cameras and lenses we choose to use– And so long as you truly respect the equipment you use, I don’t see why this is a problem…

    • http://www.olhares.com/viniciusunicamp Vinicius Carneiro

      When I listened it by the firs time from a friend, I took my camera of my neck and said “it’s really good! Go around for 30 minutes and try to make a good photo”. He accepted (I turned it to manual setting). He returned 5 minutes letter saying the camera isn’t that well.

      • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

        Great story Vinicius–thanks for sharing it with us :D

  • http://www.photopatzer.com Dan B


    You wrote…

    “Hope you have a good laugh and can relate to these 10 things that piss me off as a street photographer.”

    – I only count 5 things! :)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Oops– looks like I need to fix that typo! ;)

  • http://kurniadiwidodo.blogspot.com Wid

    It’s mostly number five for me. Nothing bugs me more than seeing great moments fleeting by right in front of my eyes yet my camera isn’t where it should be. Then I would usually let out a loud grunt of disappointment and people around would look at me funny. Other thing that sometimes slightly annoys me is when the people you want to photograph notice you and then they would strike these silly poses instead. We both would usually laugh it off though, and end up talking to each other for a while. ;)

  • http://nansid.net/ Sonia Nansid

    Forgetting my mobile phone home would be one of the thing that piss me off the most when I go out shooting. It may sound like it has nothing to do with photography but it actually does. I always have my cam with me and I often have my husband with me too. I get so focus on looking around at people and stuff that I can make very fast turns into some alley to take a pic. I lost my husband a few times by doing that and when Ive noticed his absence Ive realized I didnt have my phone with me. It really sucks! Great blog, btw!

  • Will

    I guess mine relates to the “great camera” comment but I take a lot of photo’s of my friends also who come out and about with me in the street, when we’re at home everyone will gather around and sit there complementing the person in the photo or leave comments on my facebook page about how well they did in the photo and nothing about me spotting the moment or trawling through the many photo’s to find the one good one. Bit selfish but seriously all my friends only comment on how good the subject has done and nothing about the photographer rrr haha.

    • Walter

      You realize this is your fault, right?

      You never waste your really good photos on facebook. Facebook is for vanity shots taken with a cell phone while you pose in the mirror sporting a “duck-face”. It’s not exactly where people go to appreciate good photography.

      Just post those photos you like on flickr and submit them to a bunch of groups if you want people to comment on the actual quality of the photo and recognize the skill of the person behind the camera.

  • Grace

    I really agree with number 3- you can take amazing shots on disposables and point and shoots no problem! Its the photographer not the equipment- though of course it does help! Also number 2- I find myself doing that all the time! Even just forgetting what I’m holding and fiddling with the catch! Sticky notes are a good idea- thanks for that.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Amen Grace!

  • http://gwinphotography.com Gary

    Similar to #3, I shoot weddings and at the last wedding one of the guests said to me “so, I guess its just a numbers game, you take enough shots your bound to get some good ones, right?” I said something nice and walked away but I wanted to say “no, if you take a thousand photos that are not well composed, have the wrong exposure or miss the moment, you just have a thousand crappy snapshots.

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      You should have slapped those guests to top it off ;)

  • andrew Na.

    Great post eric!
    I have never Forgetten my battery/memory card yet, hopefully not, so i wouldn’t know about that other than the fact that it is really frustrating. I haven’t shot film for quite a while, since my one and only minolta SLR died (shutter curtain mechanism dead), so i wouldn’t know about that either. Altough i totally agree on how people nowadays believe that good gear= good photos, and missing the decisive moment because of over-enthusiasm when you realize how interesting that photo you are about the capture is.

  • http://martosc.posterous.com/ MartosC

    Great post, Eric!
    I can relate to most of them to a certain degree, except #1 and #2, because I have never (yet?) left the battery at home, and I only shoot with digital :D…

    For #3 & #4, I don’t really agree. Yes, it would be great if people appreciate what we do, but people appreciation and admiration of my shots are not always my goal; at least it wasn’t the ultimate goal. I don’t sell my photos, so I shouldn’t really care about others’ thought. However, I have to admit that I am being naive as I say this: As long as I’m happy with the results, then it’s fine. — I do sometime wish for compliments :D

    And, on another point, I don’t think everyone appreciate street photography, at least not as much as street photographer… so, I think it would be common for people to say #3 and #4 — because they don’t know it’s not easy to shot good photo, and that the most important ingredients is the (wo)man behind the camera.

    As for #5, I totally agree with you! It happens a lot… too many times, I guess :D. Haha…

  • http://www.timkingblog.com tim king

    SO FRUSTRATING when you miss the moment. Especially when someone else notices. Just that *one* time and they get presumptuous.

  • Corey Thomas

    For me its my little point and shoot takes just as good or better photos than your camera!!

  • Oisin

    Was it Bill Bandt who took up the “good camera” challenge by going out with a basic pinhole thingy and taking some incredible photos?

    My biggest problem is #5, missing the decisive moment, and I can’t blame anyone else for that.

  • http://picasa.google.com/sommakia Sal

    One time I was visiting San Francisco. I got sick while there, but still went out and took a ton of shots in Sanatana Row in Santa Clara and in the Golden Gate Park. Switched memory cards somewhere in GG park, then when I got back to the hotel, I couldn’t find the memory card :( The irony is while I was changing the card, I was lecturing my friend on how I got multiple smaller cards instead of one bigger card to minimize the chance of losing all my pictures!

  • Ray

    Forgetting my camera!!

  • James

    Non-photographers in general piss me off because a lot of them think photography requires no skill. OH REALLY. Is that why MOST photographers out there have horrible pictures? Yeah, it requires skill. They’re just afraid to admit it.

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  • http://www.aquashieldroofingcorp.com Carlton Stair

    This was helpful for me and it really gave me allot to think about. Thanks for this!

  • Emily Taylor

    Yeah i really get so pissed at the last one too, starting making it a habit to always have a camera on me