The other day I wrote a post about doing street photography on my Facebook profile. Or rather, why I’m not doing it anymore, and why I’m not sure that I actually did do street photography. I did describe the endeavor of doing street photography in a somewhat negative light, at least when it comes to myself doing it, as well as the general “street photographer”. I did do a lot of what I – and probably many others – would consider as street photography (whether they would consider it as good street photography is another question), and I did enjoy it, at least in the beginning.
However, at some point I began to question myself a little. I felt that I was stagnating, my shots were too similar, there was no clear agenda or goal to what I was shooting. So I started to ask myself, why street photography? Or, that is not totally correct, the question was more “what?” What do I want with my street photography. Do I want to do art, do I want to tell stories, do I want to document something, what? I felt that I was shooting without purpose, and it got to me, and I felt that it affected the quality of what I was doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I’m a great photographer, that I’m the next Joel Meyerowitz, Boogie, or Bruce Gilden (I’ll never have that courageous hutzpah). Nor do I feel that I have some huge impact, or that I’m a certified photographer, street or whatever other kind of photographer. I’m solely referring to myself in the context of myself and whatever I have in mind to share.
If anything, I’m an academic with a sociological and anthropological approach to the society I live in. Maybe that’s what is trying to pull me in some direction or another. I’ve only been doing photography since May 2018, and only with a “real” camera since July the same year. So I’m a newbie. And I think that until that point, where I began to question myself and my purpose as a street photographer, it was the newfound creative energy which has driven me. But at that point it was settling.
I’m not saying that I got tired of it. On the contrary. I did get more excited about it, more wanting. And that’s what was getting to me, because before I felt that it was enough just going around and capturing the moments, and once in a while taking more time to compose a photo (see for example “A Girl Under a Tree”, one of the photos which I had fully visualized before I took it, and which I spend an hour or so waiting for to be just right). But I felt that I needed to tell more.
As hopefully is clear from my blog, I have gotten to the point, where I have something to tell, and a somewhat clear idea on how to do it. Previously my posts might have had something to tell, and the photos were adding to whatever I had to say. But they, the photos, have all been momentary thoughts, suddenly appearing. What I’m hinting at is that I needed to put a goal in front of me, before I went out. To have a purpose with the photography.
But purpose is not everything, I also need to consider establishing an angle, a more settled style – though that will never settle in respect of how my photos look like. More in what they are telling, the subject, theme, etc. I still don’t want to settle with black and white over color, there are shots that only work as the one or the other, and there are shots that work both as monochrome and color.
I have some ideas, some projects I want to do. And I don’t want to do projects because I think that I’m a great photographer, documenting creator, or the like. On the contrary, I want to do the projects so I can become good at what I do. To have a focus, and to have something to tell, rather than just capturing random moments, however interesting they might be. That’s the answer I want to give to the why and what. I need a purpose for my photography to be meaningful.