Street photography isn’t easy. When you are shooting street photography you are at the mercy of a lot of different factors which are out of your control including the light, what subjects are around, what they are doing and so on. However, today I want to talk about the number 1 thing which is holding your street photography back (and mine as well). This is something which affects new photographers and more experienced street photographers alike. I know that not because I am an expert, but I have listened to many pro and highly experienced photographers describe this in interviews. Check out the video, or continue reading.
Fear is the number one thing holding your street photography back
Fear is an incredibly powerful motivator, or de-motivator which manifests itself in very different ways. Beginners may experience something very different to what an old hand may experience. And yet, even a more experienced photographer may see elements of beginners fear as well.
How fear affects beginner street photographers
I want you to imagine a line between 1 and 10, where 1 is that fear doesn’t affect you at all and 10 is where you are completely dominated by fear. Now imagine what it would be like if you were a 1. What type of photos would you take? How would you go about them? I suspect you’d probably walk around proud, getting closer than you do now, taking your time, shooting an extra photo or five and trying different compositions. You might even go to some locations which you’d avoid otherwise.
Okay, now lets imagine the opposite side, where you are at 10 on this line. I’d bet you wouldn’t even leave the house let alone shoot a photo!
So where do you recon you fall on that scale? Do you have zero fear when your out shooting or are you paralysed by your fear? I suspect that you, like me, vary depending on the day and location. If I’m at one of my regular spots and things are going well in life, I’m about 3 or 2. If I’m somewhere new, with no one I know, in a more dangerous neighbourhood, then I’m more like a 5 at the start, and building confidence as I shoot. However, I had some issues with my mental health in the summer and I was down at 8 or 9. At times I didn’t want to leave the house.
How fear affects more experienced street photographers
However, fear doesn’t just affect beginners. More experienced photographers can see fear affect them in different areas connected to their photography including contacting people over exhibiting photos, entering competitions, worrying about “constructive criticism” on the internet (I’m fairly sure that’s an oxymoron right?). It might be about changing the style of photographs that you’ve been taking, or in some cases, even stopping photography.
Everyone is affected by fear in some way or another no matter if they are inexperienced or experienced.
How fear has been impacting me
As I previously mentioned, I had a bad bout with mental health in the summer and this affected my regular shooting, but recently I’ve been planning to work on a new photography project that I’m very excited about. At the same time I’ve been held back by fear. I need to plan trips, contact people to interview and speak to. I’m also worried it won’t turn out well and will have been a waste of time.
Yes, these are silly fears, and yet they are still affecting me. That’s part of why I wanted to write this post, to help acknowledge those fears and encourage myself to push through them (and hopefully you too)
How has fear held your street photography back?
Leave a comment below with your insights.
Also published on Medium.