My motivation for writing this post is this article written by Michael Ernest Sweet, much of it I agree with so this isn’t going to be some angry rant or an attempt to bash Michael for his opinion. However as someone who I feel maybe one of the targets of his article, I want to add my view for what it’s worth. If you haven’t already I suggest you read Michael’s article first before continuing on with mine.
It is true that there is little barrier to entry into street photography, but that cannot be the only reason that people choose to do it. For myself there are a number of reasons why I started street photography, firstly I was already interested in photography, I’d tried different styles like landscapes and macro, but none of them interested me. When I discovered street photography, I was blown away, here was something that I could do, it mixed well with my love of walking city streets, photography and people. Now, I can’t draw or paint or play music, but I can pick up my camera, allowing me some form of artistic expression, can you call what I do art? Probably not, but it’s art to me.
I freely admit I’m not a great photographer, street or otherwise, but why shouldn’t I be able to share my images anyway. Who decides who’s good enough that they’re allowed to share their images anyway? If I don’t share my images how will I get feedback or know if I’m getting better? I don’t think anybody sets out to make bad street photography, I believe we are all striving to be better photographers and that takes time for some of us. Not everyone is lucky enough to be born with artistic talent and most us will never attain it, I’ll probably never be a great street photographer, but I still want to try. Just because we don’t have the talent does that mean we aren’t allowed to pursue it anyway? This isn’t just a street photography thing, this applies to anything, do we give something up just because we don’t have the talent that some others do? I don’t think so, I am going to continue to do what I love even if I don’t have the talent for it.
Michael is right there is a lot of bad street photography out there and I am as guilty as anyone of adding to that mass, but how do we turn that bad street photography into good street photography? Maybe the good street photographers out there should be offering to mentor some of the bad ones, I would love for someone to mentor me and help me improve and I am sure there are lots of other people out there who would like this too. You never know some of these bad street photographers may turn out to be the next Henri Cartier-Bresson or Joel Meyerowitz. We should be supporting our fellow street photographers, not just with likes but with genuine support, like Michael says buy a book from a peer. I personally do buy a lot of books and although I do have some of the classics like The Americans, I also have some from lesser known current street photographers too. Only through support and education can we make change, I love street photography and I want to see it thrive, if you think my photographs suck, tell me, but tell me why they suck, what can I do so that they don’t suck anymore?
Sorry Michael, if I’ve missed the point of your article completely, I am more than happy for you to put me straight.