Jazz hands. Hollywood, 2011

Practical street photography lessons I’ve learned from 2009-2018 (the last 11 years!)


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1. Copy photographers who you like!

First of all, don’t worry about biting the style or copying other photographers. It’s part of the process, just like how all great artists have apprenticed under other great artists.

My suggestion, don’t worry if you’re copying another photographer: just have fun making photos in a way that suits your personality! Like shoot with a flash (Weegee, Bruce Gilden style), waiting for decisive moments (Henri Cartier-Bresson), or shooting layers (Alex Webb, Constantine Manos, Nikos E).

I would say when you’re starting off, intentionally try to copy photographers whose style you like! Read all their interviews, watch YouTube videos on them and buy their photo books. Treat them like your virtual teacher or guide, and honestly you will naturally grow into your photographic style.

2. You’re not doing anything wrong

Secondly don’t feel any ethical qualms from shooting street photography. Overcoming this false “guilt” is essential to becoming a better street photographer.

Realize that at worst, you’re only “minorly annoying” your subject. Also recognize you’re doing a “net good/positive” to society through your street photography! You’re making photos that help others appreciate the beauty of everyday life, while also uncovering injustice in the world.

So if you have good intentions in street photography, ignore what any critics or nay sayers may say about you and your work!


3. Shoot 25% more than you think you should!

Third, shoot a lot! If you see a good scene, you’re probably only gonna see it that way once in your life.

Work the scene from different angles, perspectives and views. Take a step closer, take a step back. Wait a second before clicking the shutter again. Wait for the subjects to move around more, and get a better angle.


4. Start with monochrome

Start off shooting in black and white to master simplicity and minimalism. Move onto color once you feel like you’ve mastered black and white.

Black and white forces us to focus on composition, framing, and mood. Color is more difficult than black and white because of the additional variables of color.

Start off studying Josef Koudelka, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon. Then move into color: Martin Parr, Alex Webb, Constantine Manos.

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5. For more meaningful work, work on photography books and projects

Single photos that get lots of likes on social media are good, but working on a long term photography project that’s personally meaningful is better.

For example I’ve been working on my SUITS project from 2011-2016, and I feel so much gratitude and meaning from the project. Same goes for my ONLY IN AMERICA series (2011-2016).

Projects may seem daunting, but just find a project you’re interested and passionate about, and trust me — the time will fly by!


Conclusion

Street photography is to me, the best form of photography. Open, democratic, fun, challenging, difficult and endlessly fascinating.

I feel like I can shoot street photography my whole life and barely scratch the surface.

So friend, aim to shoot street photography your whole life. Always seek to push yourself, challenge yourself, take bigger risks, and more dynamic compositions.

Don’t forget to have fun, and shoot until your dying day!

NEVER STOP SHOOTING,
ERIC

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