Notes on streetphotography (part 2): routine
In my ‘Notes on streetphotography’ I’ll be sharing my thoughts on streetphotography. By no means it is meant to be a comprehensive guide. It’s a personal learning experience that I want to share, based on my own experience and from conversations with likeminded people. This second part is about ‘routine’.
In my last notes I wrote about coincidence. And that basically coincidence does not exist. There is no such thing as being accidently at the right place at the right time. And even if you are, there is no such thing as actually seeing and capturing by coincidence. Also if relying on coincidence would be your working method it would be a huge bet to return home with a good image. And when it becomes such a huge bet, it is easy to get disappointed since chances are so low.
"If relying on coincidence would be your working method it would be a huge bet to return home with a good image."
Basically this is not a very fruitful strategy, not in terms of productivity but also not in terms of motivation. Especially not if you internally attribute these special circumstances to having the right (level of) inspiration: telling yourself that you are not getting the right images because you are not inspired enough.
Now I do believe that inspiration plays a role, in the sense that you should feel a drive and have a very focused (but still open!) mind if you want to shoot good images. You could call that inspiration, but inspiration has maybe more to do with knowing what you are looking for, what kind of imagery you are actually after and what you want to shoot. More than 'inspiration' I think you need something far less sexy to achieve your goals: routine.
"More than 'inspiration' I think you need something far less sexy to achieve that goal: routine."
Routine can imply two things. First, that you need experience to achieve your goal. You need to be able to 'read' situations before they happen and when then happen you need to recognize them and anticipate in the right way to get the best result. In the short time I am doing streetphotography I have learnt to position myself in a way that you have the best chance of capturing moving, converging subjects. This also means that your camera needs to be an intuitive tool that lets you focus on the scene and not on the gear, but I will address that part in a different blogpost.
"If nothing happens at that moment, but the scene keeps its potential, memorize that place for a future visit"
But routine also implies something very different, that is actually more related to discipline. It is building up the routine to go to specific places with a specific goal in mind. To find interesting locations that could potentially provide a good scene. To, even if nothing happens at that moment that is good enough to take a photo off, imagine what kind of additional elements could bring that scene to life. And if your imagination about what kind of picture could be taken there is strong enough, wait a while to see what happens. And if nothing happens at that moment, but the scene keeps its potential, to memorize that place for a future visit. It means you build up a mental mindmap of the city with potential locations, but more importantly: of potential images. And because you have these images in mind future scenes or easier recognised as you have already internalized them and know what you are looking for. And you are more likely to feel inspired the next time you come there, because you already know what you are aiming for.
Which brings us to the next topic: how to anticipate to a potential scene? This is what the next blogpost will be about.