Walking woman. Kyoto, 2017

Why is street photography so great? To me, it is all about self-empowerment.


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1. Conquering your fears

I believe we are all endowed with gifts, talents, and skills that we should use to empower ourselves, and also for us to empower others.

I think the biggest gift street photography has given me is building my own confidence in myself. When I started street photography, I was deathly afraid of approaching strangers, interacting with them, and photographing them without permission.

But street photography has given me courage. Street photography has helped me become more bold in life.

To me, street photography is like applied Stoicism and Zen.

  • Stoicism: Conquering the fear of rejection, conquering the fear of what others will think of me, and using street photography to overcome hesitation in my own life, and to follow my own voice.
  • Zen: To find more peace and calm in my life. To treat walking and street photography like self-therapy and meditation. To find more joy in the flux and change in life.

2. Finding beauty everywhere

I also think that street photography is all about ‘finding beauty in the mundane‘ — finding beauty, joy, and excitement in the little things in life.

In street photography, I find joy just walking around the streets, and looking around at all the people around me, smiling and thinking to myself:

“What a joy it is to be alive, to be a part of society, and to have all these wonderful people to share my life with.”

Street photography has helped me become more positive in life. It has helped me smile at more appreciation at the joy and curiosity of children, of the love of elderly couples, and the marvelous nature of cities and public places.

To me, street photography is also sociology — I use the camera as my research tool to analyze society, the world, and culture around me.

To me, I think true happiness in life isn’t about living this crazy fantastical, expensive, or fancy life. To me, true joy is finding happiness and joy in the simple things. The simple things of enjoying a nice cup of coffee, giving a hug to your loved one, having the opportunity to make photos and make art, and the joy of sharing our art with others.

3. Self-expression

Diagonals and dutch angle outlined in red. Tokyo, 2017
Diagonals and dutch angle outlined in red. Tokyo, 2017

I think that art and photography is self-empowerment. Photography is a tool for us to self-express ourselves, to share our perspective with the world, and for us to connect with others.

In a sense, a camera is almost like a self-examining lens, or a self-examining tool for us to better understand ourselves. Rather than having to hire an expensive therapist, we can use ourselves and our camera to help self-therapize ourselves.

For example, I notice when I look at my photos, I can see when I had more dark times in my life (when working on my ‘Dark Skies over Tokyo’, ‘SUITS‘ and ‘Only in America‘ series), and more positive times in my life (‘Cindy Project‘, and more of my recent color work).

Don’t repress yourself, or your own inner-artist. Street photography is the most democratic form of art out there– you can shoot street photography anywhere and everywhere. Don’t put any limits on your photographic potential.

Conclusion

Street photography isn’t just a hobby for you. It is a way of life.

Street photography is a way of us to find beauty and joy in everyday life. Street photography is the opportunity for us to enjoy walking meditation. Street photography is a tool for us to express ourselves, and also conquer our fears in life.

And yes, if you are a street photographer, you are also an artist.

So friend, I encourage you to walk a little more everyday, shoot a little more everyday, and find a little more joy in your life everyday.

Shoot street photography for yourself, define street photography for yourself, and remember– wander the streets with a childlike sense of wonder, excitement, and joy.

Smile,
ERIC

To empower yourself in street photography, join one of my upcoming STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS, and also pick up a copy of “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography“.


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