5 Tips For Really Busy Street Photographers

1x1.trans 5 Tips For Really Busy Street Photographers

NYC, 2013

Nowadays. we are all really busy. We have countless commitments at work, at home, with our friends, and with our families. It is really hard to find time to shoot street photography. Not all of us can leave the obligations of the “real world” and just go out and shoot all the time.

Ironically enough even though I am a “full time street photographer”– I still find it really hard to make time to shoot. I spend a lot of time with emails, social media, blogging, finances, helping out Cindy and my family, and church related activities.

If you consider yourself a busy person, here are some tips I suggest to shoot more street photography:

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10 Things Not to Do in Street Photography

1x1.trans 10 Things Not to Do in Street Photography

Hong Kong, 2012

  1. Don’t chimp (let your shots marinate)
  2. Don’t look at bad photos (study the masters)
  3. Don’t spend time on gear review sites when you’re bored (buy books, not gear)
  4. Don’t worry about your camera (the best camera is the one you have with you)
  5. Don’t mix black and white and color in the same set (aim for consistency)
  6. Don’t stop shooting (shoot a lot of bad photos to get a few good ones)
  7. Don’t worry about how many followers you have (shoot for yourself, like Vivian Maier)
  8. Don’t publish photos without a second opinion (edit ruthlessly)
  9. Don’t only take 1 photo of a scene (work the scene, there is more than one “decisive moment”)
  10. Don’t forget to have fun (life is short, shoot if everyday were your last)

What else would you add to this list? Share what you don’t do in street photography in the comments below!

Listening to the Bass in Street Photography

1x1.trans Listening to the Bass in Street Photography

Downtown LA, 2014

I recently read something quite interesting about music. The concept was when you’re listening to music, you tend to listen to the treble (high notes) and tend to ignore the bass (low notes).

Therefore the author suggested to get a richer experience listening to music, focus on listening to the bass (not the treble).

So I gave it a go myself. I listened to some of my favorite classical music, and really paid attention to the low notes of the cello in the background (instead of focusing on the high notes of these violins).

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You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take

1x1.trans You Miss 100% of the Shots You Dont Take

Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.

I find this such a beautiful quote not only in life but also street photography.

Many of us are afraid of taking risks, of taking chances. We worry about failure. We worry that others will judge us for our shortcomings. We worry about the worst case scenario.

But in life, we need to take chances. We need to take risks. We need to give things our best shot. By simply not trying, we don’t make any progress and don’t move forward.

In street photography there are a lot of risks face. Risk of getting yelled at, risk of missing the shot, risk of pissing somebody off.

We often hesitate too. For example I have missed thousands of potential photographs because of that split second in which that voice in my head goes, “Don’t take the shot, you might get in trouble or you might upset the person.” The second I have that doubt, I end up not taking the shot (and greatly regretting it afterwards).

In sports players often choke too. This has to do a lot with the pressure to perform. The second basketball players start thinking too much, they often miss the shots. Wayne Gretzky was one of the greatest hockey players in history, yet he has missed countless goal opportunities.

But you won’t ever make a shot unless you take a chance.

So in your street photography take more chances. Be bold. Take risks. Don’t worry about making bad photos. There is a nice quote I like: “To double your success rate, double your failure rate.”

As my friend Charlie Kirk says, “When in doubt, click.” Don’t worry about making perfect photographs. Work hard, hustle, and work the scene. Take multiple photos from different angles. Crouch down. Take a step closer or take a step back. Don’t give up after only one photograph.

Work the scene

To learn more about working the scene and taking more risks, check out my article: “Debunking the Myth of the Decisive Moment.”

If you want to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in street photography, Check out one of my upcoming street photography workshops in Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney, and London.

Systems vs Goals in Street Photography

1x1.trans Systems vs Goals in Street Photography

One of the most interesting concepts I’ve learned recently is the concept of “Systems” vs “Goals” from a book written by Scott Adams titled: “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.”

Basically Scott Adams says that in life we should focus on “Systems” instead of “Goals”. So what is the difference? Scott Adams defines a system as the following:

“A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.”

“Systems” are daily routines or procedures we do everyday (which we tend to have a lot of control over). For example in the context of street photography, going out and shooting everyday is a system. Buying a street photography book once a month and studying it is a system. Meeting other street photographers in person to get feedback and critique on your work is a system. Systems are much more dependent on the process– not the final result.

“Goals” tend to be external accomplishments that we have far less control over. For example in street photography– goals include: getting 100+ likes on your photos, having your book published by a famous publisher, having a big solo exhibition at a prestigious gallery, and becoming rich and famous through your photography.

So in life and street photography– focus on systems instead of goals. Focus on the daily things that you have control over.

Systems focus on the small daily achievements you make– and the step-by-step progress you make forward. Goals tend to be focused too many on things you have no control over. Not only that, but we tend to get more disappointed by goals as they are harder to achieve.

In conclusion to gain more happiness and progress in street photography– focus on systems, not goals. Now go out and pound the pavement!

The Benefits Shooting Both Film and Digital in Street Photography

1x1.trans The Benefits Shooting Both Film and Digital in Street Photography

Digital. C/ Jt White

This guest blog post is by JT White, a street photographer based in Seoul, Korea.

JT: I get asked a lot about film versus digital.

I use both film and digital cameras. Which, depend really depends on a lot of things. It can depend on my mood or on the lens I want to use. I don’t think I really have much of an aesthetic style as opposed to a way of shooting. I decide what camera to use depending on what I have and what my subject is going to be.

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How to Overcome Obstacles in Street Photography

1x1.trans How to Overcome Obstacles in Street Photography

Manila, 2013

I just finished a new book: “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. The book is a huge source of inspiration for overcoming challenges– and using them to your advantage. In-fact, Ryan uses the quote from Marcus Aurelius for the title of his book: “The obstacle is the way” meaning that if it weren’t for obstacles in our life, we wouldn’t grow, develop, and mature.

I thought a lot about the obstacles I’ve faced in street photography– and how I have used those negative experiences and turned them into positive ones. Here are some thoughts on how you can continue to grow and develop in your street photography– and utilize negative experiences to your benefit.

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How to Master the Creative Process in Street Photography

1x1.trans How to Master the Creative Process in Street Photography

Downtown LA, 2014

We would all love to be more creative in our street photography. We want to create work that stands out from the crowd. We want to create images that connect emotionally to our viewers. We want our images to inspire our viewers. We want our images to speak from our heart, and communicate messages to our viewers.

How do we find more creativity in street photography? I have written about creativity in the past, but have recently been inspired by a new book– “Creativity, Inc.” by the president of Pixar.

Pixar is one of the most creative studios in the world. In my opinion, they haven’t made a bad movie so far. In addition, all of their films have been wildly successful both artistically and commercially all around the globe.

I wanted to use this article as an opportunity to meditate upon the creative process a bit more–and see how we can apply it in our street photography (and other parts of our life).

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Debunking the “Myth of the Decisive Moment”

1x1.trans Debunking the Myth of the Decisive Moment

Contact sheet from Henri Cartier-Bresson in Seville, Spain, 1933. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

When I started off in street photography, I believed in the “myth of the decisive moment”. What do I mean by that?

Well, when I first heard of “The Decisive Moment” by Henri Cartier Bresson, I had the wrong impression that he only took one photo of a scene. I imagined Henri Cartier Bresson waltzing into a street scene, carefully aiming his Leica, and taking only one shot and creating masterpieces. I thought he was a demigod– a photographer who somehow had this magic behind his lens.

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10 Principles of Good Street Photography

1x1.trans 10 Principles of Good Street Photography

© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

Recently I’ve been getting really into Dieter Rams and his zen and minimalist philosophies when it comes to design. He has a famous list of “10 Principles of Good Design.” They are the following:

  1. Good design is innovative.
  2. Good design makes a product useful.
  3. Good design is aesthetic.
  4. Good design helps us to understand a product.
  5. Good design is unobtrusive.
  6. Good design is honest.
  7. Good design is durable.
  8. Good design is consequent to the last detail.
  9. Good design is concerned with the environment.
  10. Good design is as little design as possible.

I was inspired by his list, and thought I would do an homage to him by writing this list: “10 Principles of Good Street Photography” — read more to see how I applied Rams’ principles to street photography!

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