When I first started getting into photography (and especially street photography) , I did what many other what many other newbie photographers do and joined a dozen or so communities. Some were generally photography communities but a significant number were street photography communities. Fast forward a year or so later and I’ve left most of those communities leaving me with only a couple that have remained. The lesson, not all street photography communities are equal.
The problem with most street photography communities
Tell me if this sounds familiar, you head on to a photography community and see a handful of okay photos, most are of people’s backs and about half have people on their phones. A large group are average at best. Then you come across one which has a few hundred likes and some comments like “brilliant!” or “clever”. When you look at it, it was either clearly stagged, has a massive cliche or is just a silhouette. Then, finally, you come across a great image and it has maybe two or three likes with some very critical comments complaining that the photographer was too intrusive or aggressive.
That is the story of about 95% of the communities I’ve come across, they praise average photos (with a clever [but overdone] twist and that doesn’t really look that good.) Then the great photos are few and far between and undervalued. To make matters worse, if you give honest feedback, you are told off for not being “positive” and no one gives constructive criticisms.
They’re stuffed full of pop street photography. Street photography lite.
It’s not that this is a deliberate intention, it’s just that anyone can join these communities and so a lot of hobby photographers join who never really want a criticism of their photos. Instead they want people to tell them that their ugly baby is beautiful. The bigger the community, the more true this is. If you then join and try to push people forward creatively and offer a true critique not just a “that is [insert positive adjective]”, you stand out. You aren’t playing by the rules. You are a bad person.
Why this is bad
The problem is, if you join a community like this, you will stagnate and push yourself towards cheap pop photography. The type of photography which gets Facebook likes but doesn’t impact people on a deeper level. You won’t develop your own critical voice, you won’t learn what sucks about your own photos and you won’t want to try harder and explore new areas.
This is not always the case. There are some communities where people are really selective over what they upload. They only put up work they feel is up to scratch or at least might be good. People visit these groups to be inspired by others work, to give constructive feedback and to receive genuine feedback that will help them grow. They look at the work of masters for inspiration and don’t [always] fall into the trap of cheap tricks and cliches. I can list a few examples if you’d like
An invitation to Join the Photo Co-op
So this brings me to an invitation to you dear reader. To join a photo community where we offer constructive criticism, share our influences and try to grow in our photography.
This is not just for street photography but I certainly will be sharing mostly street stuff. It is completely free and limited to 12 people (one of whom is me) and you can put in as much or little as you want, the only condition is you have to give if you take (so if you post a picture, you should comment and feedback on others pictures.)
If you’re interested (even if you’re not sure this is right for you) then send me a message and we can chat about it. Either use the comments or ask me on twitter.