I’m currently in Mexico City, and man– shooting street photography here is so fun and epic! But why?
Of course when you’re in a foreign country, it is always easier to be more ‘inspired’ to shoot street photography. But let me try to outline why I’m more inspired to shoot street photography here in Mexico City:
- Living inside a city, thus you walk more, and thus you shoot more street photography (if street photography is your passion, perhaps you should prioritize living in a city)
- Foreign environment: Generally speaking, whenever I am in a foreign place, I am more stimulated by novelty. Thus I find more motivation to photograph, because everything is new to me! (how can one stay motivated to shoot street photography once they have become accustomed to a place?)
- Photo-friendly culture: It is true that in Mexican culture, people are very friendly when it comes to being photographed (or being friendly in general). This makes it much easier to shoot street photography for me, because I have less fear when shooting street photography. (Question to myself: If street photography is your passion — is it preferable to live in a photo-friendly culture, or perhaps can you shoot better street photos when living in a photo-antagonist culture?)
Anyways, living here so far the last few days has been great– I don’t remember the last time I shot these many photos!
The colors in Mexico City are phenomenal. Seriously — I haven’t been to a country that is more colorful than here!
A random thought:
Would an individual be more inspired in their street photography, if they had the opportunity to shoot BOTH color AND black and white photos?
I think so!
New Environment, New Eyes
I can definitely say that being in a new and novel environment has stimulated my eyes. I don’t like being a slave to my environment (I like to think that I can find endless inspiration and motivation regardless of where I live), but truth be told, I think almost all photographers will be more inclined to shoot more street photography when living abroad, or in a foreign country.
One random thing I’ve been doing while here in Mexico City is shooting more video. I’ve actually found that doing “video street photography” (imagine shooting street photos while walking, except you’re just shooting video) to be very beneficial. This helps me get more “in the zone” and less self-conscious when shooting street photography.
Perhaps the reason why we feel more comfortable shooting street photography abroad or in foreign countries is because we know we are an outsider and a tourist. Thus, we don’t need to obey the same rules as locals.
For example, I can definitely say I feel more comfortable shooting street photography abroad than back home in the states. In the states, I have this fear of “photographing my own people” (my fellow Americans).
Why am I more afraid to shoot street photography back home?
Why? I’m not sure. Is it because that in America, it is considered immoral to photograph a stranger without their permission? But then again, I’m more self conscious shooting street photography in California (my home state) than in New York City. So perhaps we are more risk-averse to what we perceive as our own home, because we are fearful that we will be recognized, and perhaps chastised or punished by our “in-group” or community?
Not sure, but perhaps the solution is this:
Strive to become comfortable to shoot street photography anywhere and everywhere (whether abroad or back home).
What is “home”?
This is the tricky thing — for me (living on the road, nomadically), What does “home” even mean?
Is “home” the city where I grew up? Is “home” where I went to college? Is “home” California (my state), or my country (United States)? Then another question:
Does it even matter?
At this point, I feel like the whole world is my home.
At what point does one transform from being a “tourist”/foreigner into becoming a “local”? 1 year? 2 years? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
Obviously there is no empirical “rule”— it is all just our opinion.
Even for me here in Mexico City, the main reason I feel at home is because I know how to speak Spanish, I grew up with Mexican culture (my mom cooked quesedias at home, my favorite food was burritos, and I worked alongside many Mexicans, and a lot of my friends or classmates were Mexican-American). So perhaps the notion of being a “foreigner” is a personal mindset?
Why shoot street photography?
Anyways, to move on — perhaps the more important question is:
Why shoot street photography?
For myself, I love street photography because it opens up my hearts to others. Instead of of xenophobia (fear of foreigners) I become xenophilic (love of foreigners). I become more friendly, open minded, and I talk with more people.
Furthermore, I use the camera as a sociological research tool — to better analyze, dissect, and critique the world around me.
My basic idea:
Shoot street photography in your own home as if you were a foreigner, and shoot foreign places like it were your own home.
Perhaps this is the secret to staying productive and inspired as a street photographer, regardless of where you are.