As you have probably noticed I took a longer break from Instagram over Christmas and New Year. Spending the holidays back home in the countryside and basically having no internet not only gave me a break from the online world. I also wasn’t able to shoot street photography for about two weeks. While this might feel like torture to some, I actually enjoyed not being able to go after “the usual stuff”. It made me experiment outside of the genre again – something which I don’t do enough.
When I started out
When I think back to the time after I had bought my first DSLR it makes me reminisce about a time where everything was undecided. I didn’t look for perfection and didn’t feel like I had to obey certain rules to achieve a certain result. An idea came into my head or I came across an inspiring image and immediately tried to do something similar. It didn’t matter which direction I was heading in. I was simply exploring what is possible with a camera. So I photographed and experimented with everything.
Whether it was shooting landscapes, portraits, abandoned places, macro photography, close-ups of water drops or trying to fake commercial photography, I tried it all.
It was an extremely creative and diverse time, until I discovered a genre which I became passionate about – Street Photography.
Having found your passion is a wonderful thing. It’s constantly running through your mind and you dedicate as much time as possible to it. Constant progress is the reward for your commitment and that only makes you more addicted. What can happen over time though is that you get caught up within your passion. You’re so much into something that you that you forget about all the possibilities you theoretically have and stick to only one thing.
Why worry about the genre?
Regarding street photography this could mean that you never break out of your genre. You’re a street photographer and anything else isn’t of much interest to you. With platforms like Instagram incentivizing you to stick to a certain style, trying something new which might not get the best response becomes a very unappealing thing to do.
I often see that many of us are worrying if something is still considered street photography or not. It seems like the classification of photography into certain genres is the framework many hold onto. It seems like the genre dictates what you can and cannot do. But is that really the way a genre should the perceived? I think that genres in photography merely exist to give structure. They describe what photographers roughly are doing. However, they don’t dictate what a photographer is/isn’t allowed to do. In my opinion, the photograph comes first, the genre comes second. Not the other way around.
Why must an image be street photography and nothing but? Why can’t it be a mix of let’s say portraiture or landscape photography and street photography? Sure, it won’t be considered street photography anymore, but is that really bad thing? Doesn’t always strictly following the rules become boring over time?
Break out and recharge
It is important to have a clear direction that you want to go in. It gives you orientation and something to strive for. But I’d like to encourage you to occasionally break out of whatever path you have chosen for yourself. Experiment with things you’ve never tried before. Things which are completely different from what you normally do. You will think of new ideas which you can later implement into your passion. It will make your work much more diverse, creative and enjoyable.
These last two weeks away have given me so many new ideas and showed me how much fun there is in other areas of photography. It was something I really needed after one year of shooting street nearly every day and always being active on Instagram. I can’t wait to implement some ideas into street photography and create something that’s unique. I can’t wait to work on projects which disobey the rules of street photography and create images that maybe haven’t been done before.
After all, rules are meant to be broken…