By Scott Umstattd
One of the reasons I like street photography is that it reminds me of playing baseball. There are moments when nothing is happening. And there are moments when everything happens at once. The real game is played in the mind. Being ready is the key to success.
Street photography keeps me on my toes and "in the game". While much can be done to prepare for a shot, many times decisions have to be made on the spot in a matter of seconds.
You can try to use the best available light but you can't control the light when you are in the streets. You can see a play developing in front of you but you can't control the players or the play.
All of this means that street photographers don't always get exactly what they want. Street photographers have to take the good with the bad, no matter how prepared.
And this is why commentary on street photography can be hard to take at times.
Here are 3 things street photographers hate to hear.
My camera cannot take a good picture. It can render pixels better than other cameras and my lens may kick ass, but it can't take a good picture. The camera didn't cross the street to get a better background. Nor did the camera drop to one knee to change the composition.
I know (most times) when people say this they are not intending to say something negative, but it does have an implication that I have bought my way into being a better photographer than they are.
Yes. The background could be better. If only I had the time to move that building or sign or those pesky and distracting people cluttering the background.
This is part of the give and take of street photography. A prepared photographer is looking at the background with as much interest as the subject that is being followed. But, when "it" happens you have to press the shutter no matter what is going on in the background.
"I like it but, it would be better if you weren't so far away. Or if the columns weren't blocking her legs and if her head was turned toward the sun."
Nobody's actually said that about the picture above but if they did I would hate it because I had no control over these things. Street photography relies a lot on being in the right place at the right time with the right camera/lens. This was taken from my rooftop as the girl danced for a video she was making with a friend.
While not every shot is perfect, a lot of the reward for street photographers is being able to create an interesting image from a unique moment. We don't get to dictate the terms under which we achieve this.
As an Art major in college, I learned that as soon as I present my work I have to be ready to accept different viewpoints, opinions and attitudes about what I created. Some people may not "get it" and that is not their fault. Some people may not like what I have done and I should not argue with them over their opinion. And some people may not like the medium used to create the art.
That said, it can still be hard to have my ideas and efforts critiqued by those who have little or no knowledge about the craft. This is on me. I cannot blame someone for having an opinion about my work that I don't agree with or like.
While I may argue with or try to explain my position to those less informed about the process, I have to constantly remind myself that everyone is entitled to see or believe what they want in my work.
How about you? Are there certain critiques that you find hard to hear? If so, share your thoughts below. I promise not to argue with you ;)