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Street Photography Inspiration

Dear friend,

If you need some inspiration in your street photography; here is some ideas I offer:


1. Why do you make photos?

The first question to ask yourself:

Why do I make photos?

And then after that,

Why do I like to shoot street photos?

For myself, I consider myself a visual sociologist. I like to use photography as a tool to better understand humans and society around myself. Thus, I consider street photography as an enjoyable, fun, challenging, and important approach/task in my life.

I also really like the aesthetics of street photography. I like how the street photos look! I like the dynamic energy of street photos, and even if I could never share my photos with others, I would still shoot them! Why? I like looking at my own street photographs, especially my old street photos!


2. Inspiration in street photography

I like the idea that you can find inspiration from your own photos! This means:

Look at your old street photographs, and re-inspire yourself by looking at your past work that you like!

This is my idea:

When a lot of time has elapsed, you often forget about your old photos. Thus, when you look at your old photos– you get pleasantly surprised and excited by your photos! You judge your photos more objectively; almost as if someone else shot them!

This is the test:

If you look at your photos (and imagine if someone else shot them) — would you still like it?

Let this be your inspiration!

3. External inspiration

Of course you can find inspiration from other photographers in history! My suggestion:

Study the masters from the past — especially the dead photographers whose work still resonates with us today.

This is the reason:

If their work has endured for a long time– it is because it is great!

To myself, the only way to determine whether certain artwork is great or not:

Whether the artwork can survive the ruthless jaws of time.

In Horace’s “Art of Poetry” (Ars Poetica), he says:

A poet is great if their work lasts at least 100 years.

Thus my practical suggestion:

Look at very old photographs — you will probably get more inspiration from the old and classic photos, than anything modern.

Not because modern is worse than classics; it is that modern things haven’t been tested yet. Thus, there is more noise in modern artwork and photography. There are a lot of modern photographers whose work will exist 100 years from now– but the problem is, we don’t yet know! (Nassim Taleb’s concept of the ‘Lindy Effect’).

Thus with music, artwork, films, cinema, poetry, literature, etc–

Best to study the classics.


4. My favorite masters from the past

Josef Koudelka

My personal favorite street photographers to study:

  1. Henri Cartier-Bresson
  2. Josef Koudelka
  3. Richard Avedon

This is who I consider my personal ‘trifecta’. I find deep inspiration from them, and I aspire to make great photos like them. And even more ambitiously; I seek to make BETTER photos than them!


Conclusion: Seek your own personal greatness

In life, when in doubt, be more ambitious! Seek to make photos that will exist 100+ years from now!

Our lives are short– but our artwork can live long.

Or as Seneca said:

Life is short, art is long. [Vita brevis, ars longa.]

NEVER STOP SHOOTING!
ERIC

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By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher