Street photography as intuition

I’ve been developing a new way to shoot street photography, one that I consider to be much more fluid, organic, intuitive and — dare I say — graceful.

Until now, much of my approach has been quite rigid. I would spend a good amount of time composing shots, trying to get the “perfect” technical frame, sometimes over-analyzing whether I should even take a photo, or whether there were better ways of doing the photo, etc.

Now, when I take photos on the street and other public places, I try make the whole process much smoother, and faster. I’m also making a conscious effort to be a little bit less invasive in how I photograph people.

This is not to say that I always will stay a certain distance away, but if I’m taking a photograph, I don’t want to draw too much attention to it. Compositionally, I also want the people, if there are people in the photograph, to be more part of the scene and larger environment.

(There are some types of photos, however, that I do often ask to get consent first, but I think that’s another topic entirely.)

I try to be much more intuitive now. If I see something that gives me a certain feeling — describing this feeling is very difficult — I’ll raise my camera, quickly compose and take the photograph, and move on. Half the time now, I don’t even stop walking to take the photograph — I take it while in motion.

I might do a little minor acrobatics to get an interesting angle or composition, but I don’t really want to let it slow me down. So I’ll do that while I’m moving as well.

I’ve got a good enough handle on my shutter speeds to know how to set them in advance, so I don’t have to worry about blurry photographs as much.

I also don’t really get upset anymore about “missing” photos. I know I can’t possibly photograph everything, and there will always be other interesting things around the next corner.

I’m also starting to think more about why I don’t take certain photographs. In the past, I would think that my inability or fear of raising the camera reflected a lack of skill. But, maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe that’s your mind or conscious really telling you, perhaps you shouldn’t be taking that photograph.

In other words, if I’m debating whether or not to take a photograph, then I should just forget it and move on. By that point, the feeling has passed, and it’s not intuitive anymore.

Here are a few recent photographs below that were taken with these principles in mind.

Dog in Pacific Heights 2019.jpg
Hayes Street 2019.jpg
Man and Woman on Fillmore Street 2019.jpg
Man Sunglasses Fourth Street 2019.jpg
Man with Comb Gough St 2019.jpg
North Beach 2019.jpg
The Embarcadero 2019.jpg
Your Best Life Is Right 2019.jpg