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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!