The 5 Elements of Effective Street Photography

g) Look for what is missing

I think in street photography we should always strive to make better photographs. What I am personally aiming for is “perfection” in my street photos– in which these is no part of the frame which is wasted, in which there is strong emotion, and in which the photograph will last the test of time.

Of course there is no objective way to achieve “perfection” in any photograph (especially in street photography, when reality is quite messy).

Summary of Principle #1: “Understanding deeply”

If you want to really improve your street photography, you need to master the fundamentals. Without a strong base, you can never build up a castle. Could you build up a castle on a base of sand? No– you want to build your fundamentals like a stone foundation.


Principle #2: Fail to succeed

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm” – William Churchill

Alex Webb once said something like, “Street photography is 99% failure”. Street photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography– and there is so much hard work, chance, and luck involved.

a) Fail 9 times

One strategy the authors mention in the book is to purposefully try to fail 9 times (before you get 1 success).

So you can do this many ways in street photography.

If you want to build your confidence in street photography, you can try this assignment: approach a bunch of strangers and ask for permission to take their portrait. But the catch is this: you need to try to get rejected 9 times in a course of a day.

b) Let errors be your guide

Trial-and-error is one of the best ways to gain knowledge and insights about the world. Whenever you make a mistake or an error, don’t be discouraged. Every error you make is just another step forward. Because with every error, you learn one way that something doesn’t work.

Summary for Principle #2: Fail to succeed

The key thing is this: you want to learn from your errors, mistakes, and failures. Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.

Failure is progress.

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