I found myself at a crossroads. Finally I’d totally sworn off any idea of street photography and voyeurism. No California-typical expression of lifestyle and ego-feeding photojournalism. Who knows how long it’s been. A year…two?
All the experts and amateurs throwing their hands in the air. “Shoot everyday.” “Work on a 365 project.” “Capture every moment.” Dafuq, how 90′s-JCPenney-portrait does that sound. Then, the branding issue. You should never let the public know that you don’t believe in documenting your food travels. Every cronut, every Taco Tuesday, every forsaken Starbucks run, and every hipster vegan hangout. Not for us. Not really into the idea of photos for the sake of taking photos. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been taking a ton of photos at parties, on vacation, on our nights out etc. We just haven’t been bragging about going to Umami burger. Yes, everyone’s been there. Please tell me more about how they don’t have umami in their Umami Burgers. Jeez. But then, a revelation.
We look at an insane amount of photography. As consumers, and photographers we are privileged to absorb possibly unhealthy amounts of visual stimulation. It hit me when I was walking in downtown. I happened to have a camera hanging over my shoulder, thinking about all those Hollywood kid selfies. Boom. It hit me. On the street I’m a curator. Forget posing and hunting and waiting for something to happen. I started shooting manically. Pointing the camera everywhere, shooting rapid fire, and hitting the buffer. I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder, no live-view, no appreciation for “the art” and “the craft.’ Forget the idea that a photographer is an artist (they can be, but not usually). I’ve never believed it, never felt it. Finally that philosophy and my disdain for ego documentation met at a beautiful point.
You see, when those ideas merged they told my ego that I could take a photo however I wanted. That I could do it with as little or as much technical devotion as I wanted on the streets. Nonetheless, I will still have bad ass imagery sitting in my catalog at the end of the day. Want to know why? Because I have the ability to look through images and understand what good photography is and what appears engaging. Most importantly, I see when my ego has a hold of me, and wants to hold on to a bad image. I can let it go.
It’s terrible how many photographers, photo editors, clients, etc choose the wrong photo because they fall madly for an idea or concept that couldn’t be executed provocatively.
I’m not out for blood, and I’m not trying to illustrate a cynical world view. It’s just that there doesn’t seem to be much documenting the reality of photography. The fact that you can point the camera in a random direction and pull the shutter, and get an amazing photo. The mythos surrounding photography seems to be turning into a big joke sometimes. Finding myself thinking about the truth behind the veil, I have to talk about it. Turmoil – seems like we’re on the slippery slope that separates the designers from the artists.