Over the last few years, I have met or seen in action quite a few photographers. A lot of great and passionate people covering a wide range of styles, gear and personalities. Here is therefore an attempt to classify them in different types. This is evidently a satire, to be taken with humor, but I am sure you’ll find a little bit of yourself in some of these types.
I) The Intellectual : Everything in a shot is about lines, metaphors, psychology, sociology, history … or you name it. No element in his pictures is ever the result of hazard since his swift eyes detected and interpreted every single detail before he triggered. Even the lousiest shot becomes the next Michelangelo after going through his everlasting rhetoric. Yet, most often, he is actually the only one to understand, and like his pictures.
II) The English Patient : Patience is his main virtue. A shot is as good as the time and effort it took to get it. He identifies carefully a setting, studies the light and positions himself for the perfect composition. His finger always ready on the shutter, he then waits for the missing element to appear. His wait might last for hours, sometimes braving rain, wind and the suspicious neighbors. Eventually, nothing will happen, but it doesn’t matter, he’ll be back tomorrow.
III) The Innovator : In search of quick glory, his goal is to give a new birth to street photography through his revolutionary style. He’ll therefore frame diagonally, shoot subjects out of focus, go the polarized way, and even try to shoot with some vaseline … on his lenses. The innovator in the end just repeats the mistakes of other, and eventually comes to the fact that the road to glory is completely un-predictable.
IV) The Nostalgic : Street photography reached its peak in the 50’s and HCB, Brassai, Doisneau are his idols. He only shoots B&W and inherited his grandfather’s cherished Leica M3 with a 50mm Summilux first version. To him, nothing matches the gentle softness and glow of vintage lenses. He will let you listen, almost with tears in his eyes, to the extremely quiet and delicate sound of his Leica’s shutter. Backpacks, Renault Twingo’s and basketball shoes drive him nuts and he wishes everybody still wore a beret and a tie.
V) The Frugal : For the frugal, it is not about quantity, but quality. Film is too expensive to be wasted, so better not to get the shot than a potentially bad one. He usually hangs at the bar with the Nostalgic, who listens patiently to his never ending lament “Film makes you think more, film makes you compose better, film makes you a better photographer”. Of course, you won’t see ever his work online since the frugal won’t waste a penny on a digital scanner. Prints are so much better, prints make you think more, …. etc
VI) The Egocentric : Subjects are just toys because it is all about himself. He likes to show off his skill and witty mind. He usually hangs out in Flickr and comments are his measure of personal greatness. It doesn’t matter if his shots have absolutely no meaning, as long as he gets his usual dozen of “nice shots”. The Egocentric is simply the best out there and anyone who does not think so simply doesn’t understand what street photography is all about.
VII) The Shy person : For him, It’s all about not being spotted. So he shoots from behind, from the hips, or mounts a 135mm on his rangefinder. Whenever he gets spotted, he’ll blush and turn as red as the dot on his camera. This until the day that when in an excess of bravery, he will raise his camera in the face of a subject. Evidently, he’ll shake so much in fear that the shot will end up blurred.
VIII) The Terminator : His camera is his weapon, and the number of frames per second is his only buying criteria. His camera is huge and his lens looks like a grenade launcher. He is a master of camouflage. Of course, his 300mm lens makes it easier. The decisive moment does not exist, or at best, it is located somewhere in his last 10 shots burst.
IX) The Fearless : Shooting in the face of people is a non issue to him. Law does not prohibit it so why should he renounce to his personal rights ? You’ll see him bouncing around the sidewalk trying to get the best angle he can and getting as close as Capa told him to. If his technique ends up freaking out a few subjects, it does not matter, it will actually make shots look better. The Fearless remains so until punched in the face by a 6’6” ex football player. It was a bad idea to take a picture of his girlfriend, with flash and in the Bronx.
X) The Family man : With a full time job, a demanding wife and two kids, the family man has little time left for street photography. He shoots while pushing the stroller, one eye in the viewfinder and the other looking over the other kid. His free time happens when the whole family sleeps, and bad news, there ain’t a soul in the street either at that time. He therefore becomes a sofa street photographer, looking at books or surfing the web, and thinking with melancholy of the times he could hunt the streets all day long.