It seems that many of us have been sitting around in eager anticipation for COVID to blow over, or perhaps the day that we (or everyone in America) becomes fully-vaccinated.
But it seems that will not be the case, nor will ever be the case. It seems COVID is the ‘new normal’, and rather than waiting for things to change, we must learn to radically adapt to the present moment, and figure out how we can thrive artistically, creatively and photographically right now; today.
1. See the upside in your limited constraints.
The first idea:
Know that moving forward in life, we will never have 100% freedom (compared to the past).
Moving forward, traveling will always be more difficult, challenging and tricky. Social norms (regarding mask wearing, social distancing, physical touch, etc) will continue to evolve in piecemeal fragmented ways. So the question:
Given these constraints, how can I figure out how to benefit from it?
For example in street photography, I suggest you to broaden your definition of street photography, or at least gain more ownership over it. Perhaps notions of ‘street photography’ could be more codified before the pandemic, but now … street photography is whatever you want it to be.
2. New forms of success
Also in the past, it seemed that the apex of success in street photography was traveling the world, getting sponsorships and brand deals and endorsements, getting in-person fancy exhibitions (solo), and getting book deals and publishing your work widely.
But now with COVID, physical reality is different. Moving forward, print will continue to steadily decline (the rise of digital publishing), and also in-person exhibitions won’t really be a prominent thing anymore. More and more will shift to the virtual and online, so the question is:
Given these new physical constraints, how can you define street photographic success for yourself differently?
For example, for myself — to simply leave my house and be able to snap a few photos here and there is a sign of success for me (advancing, the joy of shooting street photography in the first place).
Also, getting off social media (deleting my Instagram a few years ago) has probably been the most productive and constructive thing I’ve done in my photographic life. It has given me more focus to blogging, shooting more personal street photography, and also building up ARS (arsbeta.com).
So what does ‘success’ for street photography mean to you? You can also have a quick chat with ZEN OF ERIC (WHY APP?) Facebook messenger bot to gain some deeper insights for yourself.
3. Social distant street photography
Take this as a creative challenge. Intentionally try to shoot from really far, while still making interesting compositions. The ‘dutch angle‘ (tilting your camera while shooting) is a very effective strategy and technique you can integrate (something that Garry Winogrand was a huge practitioner of).
4. Practice composition
If you ignore the news and actually travel right now (either flying or even driving), travel is surprisingly normal. It feels like things are ‘back to normal’, except everyone is wearing face masks (like Asia). Certainly as a net-whole, travel is down, but I think the wise thing is trying to figure out how to travel given the constraints of COVID.
Certainly getting vaccinated is good before traveling, but even before I got fully vaccinated (Moderna), I just kept my distance (socially distant) at the airport, used hand sanitizers and such, and tried to carry on as usual (‘Keep calm and carry on’, like the British motto).
Traveling and shooting street photography can be as far as going international (if your VISA allows), traveling within the states (Southwest, or finding cheap flights on Kayak.com or Google Flights), or just driving around to the nearest big city to you (like Chicago or New York City), or perhaps taking the train. Or it can even be just driving to the downtown area (or walking/biking) to your own local downtown area, and just practice your street photography skills and techniques [My top 30 street photography techniques on YouTube].
6. No more expectations; a brave new street photography world
The slate has been wiped clean. Imagine yourself like starting street photography afresh. Embrace the masks, social distancing, and the social weirdness of it all.
BE BRAVE AND SHOOT ON!
New Street Photography Workshops in Chicago and NYC
If you’re itching to travel again (or even getting out of your house and practicing your street photography again), I am very excited to announce that I have two very special workshops upcoming — one in Chicago May 23-24th (CONQUER COMPOSITION), and a new epic intensive one-day NYC STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERWORKSHOP (Saturday, June 19th).
Even though there are still currently COVID-19 concerns, I have a strong desire to teach these workshops to share my skills and knowledge with you, give myself an opportunity to start teaching and shooting street photography again (my passion), and also for me to start traveling again (teaching a workshop is a great excuse for me to travel, and also re-spark my own passion for street photography).
You can get more details for the workshops below:
- May 22-23, 2021: CHICAGO / CONQUER COMPOSITION STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
- June 19, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERWORKSHOP
Books to get you going
- 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography [PDF]
- ZEN OF ERIC (Philosophy) [PDF]
- The Street Photography Composition Manual [PDF]
And let us not forget our motto:
And when in doubt,