In the first installment, I wrote about the main components of a style in street photography. The aim was to help you determine patterns in your street photography, be it in terms of gear, technique, themes or vision.
But in practice, how do you do it ?
One method that I suggest here is to go through your archive and classify all your pictures by recurring characteristics. Let’s not make it a long text and jump directly to a practical exercise.
The following two sets of six pictures that were all taken today in Bangkok. Have a look at them and try to define their common characteristics :
I obviously did the exercise myself previously and came up with the following analysis:
Set 1, unique characteristics :
- use of large depths of field
- wide angle types of composition
- marge majority of landscape orientation
- use of humor, metaphor and symbolism
Set 2, unique characteristics :
- mono-subject (street portraits)
- use of thin depths of field, blurred background
- importance of depth behind the subject
- high vantage point
- lyric / poetic / mysterious atmospheres
- emphasis on the subjects’ emotions
And finally, these two sets do share common characteristics :
- importance of colors
- emphasis on composition
- gear (Leica M8 with 35mm Lux Asph)
- humanist tradition
- reliance on decisive moment
What does it tell me ? Probably that I actually have two styles of street photography. They both do share a lot of characteristics as I believe that the gear, post-processing and my vision of the world is the basis of my street photography. Indeed, one who is familiar with my work would recognize my shots from either of these two sets.
Nevertheless, the existence of what we could call “sub-sets”, also provides an explanation of why I always struggled while trying to edit books or organizing my work. Believe it or not, it took my four years to come up to this reality, and though I always suspected it, I had never formally analyzed it.
So what now ? Having various styles of street photography is obviously not an issue. But your awareness of it definitely helps, both in terms of shooting and showing your work. First, you’ll have cleared your mind from any after-thoughts on whether a shot is part of “what you do”. And secondly, it will greatly help you when editing books, building a portfolio or marketing your work. All of that ultimately leading to a better understanding for your readers of what you street photography is about.
You might evidently also find out that you have only one street photography style. Good or bad ? Again, it does not really matter as long as you feel confortable with it, both while shooting and showing your work. Coming up to the conclusion that you have no clearly defined style would probably be more problematic, though absolutely normal for a beginner in street photographer.
So, ready for a little introspection ? Your archive is only a click away !
(If you are interested to share your own detailed analysis of your work here, I’ll gladly publish it. So just drop me an email)