5 practical tips, insights, and traits you can cultivate to take your street photography to the next level:


Conquer your fears and meet new peers:


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The 5 traits of great photographers
The 5 traits of great photographers

1. Intuition

Intuition
Intuition

To build intuition in street photography, experience more ‘situations’ in street photography.

What to look for when shooting street photography. Spread from the book: LEARN FROM THE MASTERS
What to look for when shooting street photography. Spread from the book: LEARN FROM THE MASTERS

The more you shoot, the more similar situations you will encounter. And reality tends to repeat itself.


Shoot
Shoot from your gut, shoot with your heart. Spread from book: MASTERS

Intuition in street photography is to just follow your gut, and to JUST SHOOT IT.

Don’t hesitate before making a photo. I follow the ‘3 second rule’ — if it takes me more than 3 seconds to make a photo, I won’t make the photo.


Hand tattoo. Amsterdam, 2017
Hand tattoo. Amsterdam, 2017

Also, the more you study the great street photographers from history, the more you will be able to identify what exactly makes a good street photograph.

Girls laughing. Amsterdam, 2017
Girls laughing. Amsterdam, 2017

For me, a great street photograph is dynamic, edgy, has emotions, gestures, and punches you in the gut.


LEARN FROM THE MASTERS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
LEARN FROM THE MASTERS BOOK

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Intuition also means following your nose, when you’re out shooting in the streets. If you see a street corner, a store, or an alleyway that calls out to you — follow your intuition.

Yellow arrow and pointing finger. Amsterdam, 2017
Yellow arrow and pointing finger. Amsterdam, 2017

This is what Steve Jobs did at Apple– when everyone told him he was crazy, he simply followed his gut and intuition, for his designs.

Blue face and eyes. Amsterdam, 2017
Blue face and eyes. Amsterdam, 2017

Also, in Zen philosophy — we are taught to follow our intuition, more so than ‘logic’ and reason.

Cindy flexing in mirror.
Cindy flexing in mirror.

Cindy flexing abstract
Cindy flexing abstract

In short,

Follow your gut, or intuition.

If you have even a 1% chance that the photo might be good, just shoot it!


2. Confidence

Confidence
Confidence

Confidence: Not being afraid to click the shutter.

Confidence in street photography:

Seeing a good potential street photography opportunity, and not worrying about the potential consequences.

To be honest, it took me at least 5-6 years before I truly built up my confidence in street photography, like bronze armor. This is a skill that I’ve worked on a lot over the years, and thus — this is why I teach street photography workshops on how to conquer your fears of photographing strangers.

Walking woman. Kyoto, 2017
Walking woman. Kyoto, 2017

Trust me– no matter how brave or confident you get in street photography, you will always have some fear, and hesitation. Which is a good thing — the fear of shooting street photography is what makes it challenging, difficult, and fun.

Orange woman abstract. Kyoto, 2017
Orange woman abstract. Kyoto, 2017

Aperture eye. Yellow and red.

To cultivate your confidence, try the ’10 no’ challenge from STREET NOTES. Approach a bunch of strangers, and intentionally try to get 10 people to say ‘no.’

Laughing lady artbooks by haptic press
Laughing lady artbooks by haptic press

The more you are comfortable being rejected, the more confidence you will have in the streets.


Also, just realize that confidence is a muscle. The more you train your confidence muscle, the stronger it will get. It isn’t something that is innate in people — confidence is a skill you can build.

3. Vision

Vision
Vision

VISION: to see good potential street photos, and having the eye to compose, frame, and work the scene.

Also, VISION is to have an ultimate purpose with your photos.

For example, my vision in my photography is to inspire others to find more joy in their everyday lives.

Also, philosophically, my vision of photography is that it is more open, democratic, and open source.

You don’t need a massive or grand vision — even small visions are fine.

But remember,

You’re not just making photos — you’re making something greater.


4. Passion

Passion
Passion

Passion: I think this is something you either got, or you don’t.

But, the truth is — even if we start off having passion for something, the flames lose intensity over time.

Therefore, the secret is:

Keep the flame of passion alive.

Consider, if you have a camp fire. If you don’t keep feeding the flame, the fire will burn out.

To keep feeding your creative passion:

  • Learn how to draw with the book, CREATIVE EVERY DAY
  • Keep an art sketchbook, pick up a copy of HAPTIC ARTBOOK
  • Watch great cinema, I recommend Akira Kurosawa 7 Samurai, or Rashomon
  • Read great literature
  • Read great poetry
  • Study the sciences outside of photography and art — like physics, biology, and computer science.
  • Never be satisfied with what you learn

As Steve Jobs said,

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

5. Creativity

Creativity
Creativity

To me, creativity is the ability for you to cross pollinate or link together unrelated artistic fields.

Also, creativity is also something that is a skill we can build.

Cindy elevator, Dutch angle. Saigon, 2017
Cindy elevator, Dutch angle. Saigon, 2017

Furthermore, creativity is having the ability to CREATE A LOT. Creativity isn’t just cleverness or ingenuity. It is having the confidence in yourself to write a lot, shoot a lot, and publish a lot.

Cindy elevator, Dutch angle. Saigon, 2017
Abstract. Cindy elevator, Dutch angle. Saigon, 2017

Also, I find the most novelty in photography and street photography is to avoid boredom. As long as you are entertaining yourself, you’re doing a good job.


Conclusion

Photographer eye
Photographer eye

Cultivate these 5 traits on a daily basis, and as a reminder, treat each finger as a different trait.

ERIC


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Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

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