When you think of street photography you think of Cartier-Bresson’s Paris, Trent Parke’s Sydney, Vivian Maier’s New York (you should google all of these photographers by the way) - places thronging with people and with impressive architecture around every corner. At first glance it seems to be the preserve of the Global City. But street photography isn’t about grand places, it’s about people interacting with their environment. Which means that you can practice it wherever you are.
When I approach street photography, I have a few things in mind. Light, composition, energy and emotion. I try to see my surroundings in those terms rather than merely taking a snapshot.
By observing in this manner I have realised what a strange and unusual place Dumfries & Galloway is. I have no interest in showing some pastoral idyll - the Dumfries & Galloway that I love is not like that. It is a place of hard contrasts and where people are "capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts.”
Adopting this philosophy of street photography allows me to work with a great level of freedom. I can abandon trying to represent how things look and concentrate more on trying to capture the emotion of a time and place.
There is a huge debate going on around ‘Street Photography’ at the moment. The main criticism levelled at it is that it can be boring. Just people walking around. Michael Ernest Sweet stated that the work of photographers like the ones I mentioned above are “now lumped into this same genre that produces hundreds of thousands of dull, hackneyed candid images of random strangers by hopeless photographers every single day.”
To separate yourself from the deluge of the mundane you must try to see the beauty and uniqueness wherever you photograph. So if I can offer a piece of advice at this stage - don’t settle for merely representing what you see. You must impose yourself, your vision on what you are photographing. Otherwise anybody could take the pictures that you could take. Look for interesting things - be they light, shadow, shape, expression, movement, action, emotion, beauty.
Wherever you go, take your camera with you - you never know what interesting things you will see.
Even if you are just walking down the street to the shops.
There are always opportunities for great shots.
When you go out to shoot, aim to come back with only one good picture. Don’t worry about getting lots. One good picture is all you need from a day’s shooting.
I realise that this has been a fairly rambling and chaotic blog, but that is what street photography is like. You have no control and must just respond to what you see.
In my opinion there must be people in your shots - it’s about the human experience. Look for expressions.
Go back to the same places over and over until you get the shot.
So I hope that gives you some inspiration and or tips to go out and do some street photography.
*disclaimer - this is how I approach this subject. Others will probably have conflicting opinions. It is entirely subjective.
You can find more of my work at