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Never Miss a Moment: Head Out Into the Streets

There's a reason why street photography remains a favorite and popular genre to this day. Everywhere in the world, streets are always rife with rawness, grit, and fascinating scenes waiting to be captured. Each street photographer's mission is to be in the right place at the right time and never miss a moment.

Photo by grazie

Many say that picking up photography as a hobby (or getting into film photography, to be more specific) has opened their eyes and made them see their towns in a different light. Suddenly, they find new corners to explore, charming old buildings to admire, and maybe even quaint cafes and restaurants they never knew was there.

At some point in these explorations, they will eventually find themselves faced with interesting scenes unfolding before them; some dramatic, some intense, some heart-breaking, but all of them are certainly spontaneous, unexpected, unscripted. The rawness and grittiness of these moments drive street photographers to keep their eyes peeled and their fingers on the shutter in anticipation of that particular instance which Henri Cartier-Bresson calls the “decisive moment.”

Photo by grazie

If you’re among those who have found a penchant for shooting street scenes, you must have realized that getting into the habit of having a camera with you wherever you go and being as fast as you can prove to be rewarding for street photography. But, without understanding the point of that “decisive moment,” those photos will be no more than trivial snapshots with less or no value.

Photo by sirio174

On his highly influential photography concept, Cartier-Bresson explains:

“There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative.”

Each street snap, therefore, should be a moment frozen in time, a story without words, and a slice of life caught as it happens. Timing is everything, but that knack for pressing the shutter at the crucial moment requires patience, practice, and training one’s instincts. “Once you miss it, it is gone forever,” Cartier-Bresson also says.

Photo by pussylove

What is your take on street photography? Is it something you thrive in, or an uncharted territory you are yet to try and explore? I very much want to hear your insights, so please leave a comment below!

written by plasticpopsicle

9 comments

  1. ihave2pillows

    ihave2pillows

    I'm still learning the art of "blending in", trying to be invisible to my subjects :)

    12 months ago · report as spam
  2. hivernoir

    hivernoir

    I'm still trying to break into street photography - but it is a slow process as I am incredibly shy!
    Yeah, I agree that photography opens your eyes to everything around you.

    12 months ago · report as spam
  3. plasticpopsicle

    plasticpopsicle

    First of all, beautiful street snaps you got, @grazie, @sirio174, and @pussylove! I don't have a lot of street snaps yet that are worth sharing but street photography is something I've always wanted to do. I haven't mastered the art of "blending in" either like @ihave2pillows said, but I'm trying! I think it just takes practice, @hivernoir, we can do this! :)

    12 months ago · report as spam
  4. sirio174

    sirio174

    @plasticpopsicle When I photograph people, I take pictures "with the heart!". This is my preferred subject!

    12 months ago · report as spam
  5. sirio174

    sirio174

    @plasticpopsicle The "Decisive moment" is not so important, see for example the photos of Robert Frank, Doisneau, Martin Parr and Lee Friedlander!

    12 months ago · report as spam
  6. plasticpopsicle

    plasticpopsicle

    @sirio174 I think you have a point, but I also think that street photographers, even before learning about Cartier-Bresson's concept, all have their own concept/understanding of when to press the shutter!

    12 months ago · report as spam
  7. pussylove

    pussylove

    Thanks for these sweet lines!

    12 months ago · report as spam
  8. pussylove

    pussylove

    I love to "fade" into the background and just wait for hours, but I tend to do it less in France, Parisian are so much more aggressive and they don't like to be shot when they discover you did! Especially with kids when in Japan it was much easier. Next week end, I try camouflage...

    12 months ago · report as spam
  9. grazie

    grazie

    hey there! thanks so much for including two of my photos. Black and white street photography is where I am truly or always at home. I don't know or can't afford to say that I am good at it but it is the genre that I am most comfortable or I favor most. I have been really lucky in pressing the shutter at the right time like on that photo of that guy with the coat and the "tailor shop" sign and that took less than 5 minutes of waiting for something to happen. Most of the time, it takes me quite some time to wait for something to happen. Or like at the Fashion District, I stay in the vicinity and do some shopping, eating ,etc while being aware of my surroundings. The decision of pressing the shutter for me is more of gut feel. Then you have to be fast.
    I'd love to shoot street in Tokyo, Manila and New Orleans. I'd love to try street photography in color because I am truly inspired by the works of Saul Leiter and Alex Webb.
    Thanks again!

    12 months ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch & Spanish.