Street photography is one of the biggest passions in my life. I spend a large amount of time either shooting on the streets, blogging about street photography, tweeting about street photography, and talking/thinking about street photography. But why do I love it so much and why does it bring me a lot of happiness?
The answer is “Flow“–as psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it. I’m sure all of you guys have experienced this when shooting on the streets. You go out and take photos, and become totally immersed in the experience and forget a sense of time or space. You can be out for hours shooting, and don’t even realize that time is passing by.
Whenever I am on the streets and shooting, I feel pure euphoria. I am out there in almost a zen-like state–simply wandering wherever I want to go, while capturing the beauty in the mundane. I meet interesting people, and I experience fascinating and new places. There is no feeling quite like it.
However the problem that many street photographers (myself included) face is that we lose sight of what really makes us happy (shooting photos) and we chase other things such as fame, wealth, or prestige. Would making a few bucks out of our photographs really make us happier? Will the $6900 Leica M9 make us happier? If we become as famous as Henri Cartier-Bresson–will that make us happier? I beg to disagree.
After watching the TED talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on flow and his theory on the matter– I am convinced that the true happiness I will gain out of street photography is quite simple and in front of me. Shooting in the streets.
For those of you who are interested in watching the TED video that inspired me, take 20 minutes out of your day to truly change your perception about photography, happiness, and life. And if you are really interested in the subject, purchase his book on Amazon titled Flow: The Classic Work on How to Achieve Happiness.
So my question to you guys is that do you experience this zen-like feeling of “flow” when you are shooting on the streets as well? Leave a comment below and let us know what your experiences are like!