Recently Neal Bingham, one of the moderators and admins for the Aspiring Street Photographers Flickr group I started asked me to write an article about how I shoot street photography with a full-time job. I thought it would be a great topic to discuss, as many of us street photographers have full-time jobs while pursuing our passion and hobby on the side. Although life can often be incredibly busy, I will discuss some tips how you can always find time so how I make time to shoot street photography (even with a full-time job).
1. Always carry your camera everywhere you go
It is incredible how some of the best photographs I have taken were when I least expected them. Always keeping my camera by my side helps me take more images, regardless of how busy I am. Although it may be annoying and cumbersome to always have your camera by your side, it is essential if you are serious about street photography. I always keep my camera in my Timbuk 2 Commute 2.0 bag, with my padded camera insert which helps me always have my camera that doesn’t make me stick out like a sore thumb.
2. Shoot during your lunch breaks
Although my schedule is hectic at work, I can always make time to shoot street photography during my lunch breaks. Street photographer Joe Wigfall from NYC even discusses holding a full-time job and shooting during his lunch break in this interview on YouTube with WNYC. (Also read my interview with him here).
Lunch breaks are always a great opportunity to shoot street photography, as you can make it a ritual and keep it consistent. For example everyday at noon, I am able to shoot about a roll of photos and capture at least one “keeper” in a day. Fortunately I also work right next to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which has a ton of foot-traffic.
3. Explore during your commute
I recently met up with LA street photographer Alex Smith, and he discussed how he often takes detours when taking his commute and simply gets out of his car and shoots. He makes it a point to leave his house 20 minutes early, which gives him an opportunity to take different routes and take photographs what interest him. And oh yeah, he holds a full-time job and makes about a 40-minute commute to his job everyday.
Regardless of how long your commute is to work, try to leave work a bit earlier and capture some street photographs in-between. Whenever we are busy and in a rush, we don’t have time to see the beauty of everyday life and listen to the music.
4. Make it a priority
Regardless of how busy I get at work, I always make shooting street photography a priority. Why do I do this? Because street photography is my passion, and if I don’t make it a priority– it will simply get swept under the rug. In this modern and digital age, we are constantly bombarded with work and always busy. Therefore it is unrealistic to simply tell ourselves that we can go out and shoot “when we have some time.” This is what I believe is a sign of a street photographer who is truly serious about their craft. As Malcom Gladwell states in his book Outliers, the greatest masters have at least 10,000 hours under their belt for whatever they are working on (this equates to about 3 hours a day for a decade… you do the math).
5. Shoot after you get off work
When I was working full-time in Korea for a summer I shot some of my best street photographs at night after I got off work. I would simply take the bus or subway to a random location, get off, and take photographs in the neighborhood which interested me. Not only did this help break me out of my daily routine, but it also helped spur my inspiration while capturing great street photographs as well.
If you don’t have time to shoot street photography during the day, shoot during the night. Although it is convenient to shoot street photography during the day, I believe the streets truly come alive during the night. Look at the work of LA street photographer Ludmilla Morais who takes incredible street photographs at night, especially in bars (nsfw).
Do you hold a full-time job and shoot street photography? Tell us how you make time to shoot street photography by leaving a comment below!