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Street photography: mental issues

July 20, 2019
street photography bad emotions

Street photography is often about mental issues. It’s difficult to photograph strangers, there are a lot of implications. Doing street photography sometimes we are afraid to appear weird to the eyes of other people. What are we doing? Is it legal? Is it ethic?

Most of the time problems don’t come from other people but from our minds. We are scared to take photos of other persons in public space and also to ask for permission.

Fear, shame, loneliness, frustration, boredom are common emotions for street photographers. In this blog I’ve wrote down some thoughts about mental issues in street photography.

1) The frustration of doing nothing

First times are the best in photography. Each image looks good to our eyes. After we become more selective and severe with our works. As Alex Webb said “street photography is about 99,9% failure”. Sometimes it is really frustrating going out for hours and don’t take any good shot. We think that we are bad photographers and we could spend better our time looking tv, going out for a drink with friends. Sometimes we go out to make street photography when we are tired or when the weather is bad, it’s a rainy day, it’s cold or hot… And again we don’t take any good photos. Most of the time street photography is failure. Sometimes for days or months.

Indeed we always are doing something special when we take street shots, regardless the result. At first we’re going out for a walk ant this is good thinking to our society closed at work or in private spaces in front of Tv or Pc. When we do street photography usually we walk a lot, that’s awesome for our health and for those who want burn fat. Human beings are biped, so it is our nature go out and walking for hours. Regardless the result we are doing street photography, we are practicing and refining our skills as photographers. So we are doing something that is really important, we’re trying and if you don’t try you’ll never take good shots.

street photography candid portraits

2) Fear to fail

If you want succeed you have to fail, this is a must in life. Practice and experience are fundamental . When you fail you can learn from your errors! So do not be afraid to fail! If you don’t try you’re failing in some way, if you try and then fail you are doing something. When we do street photography we often forget how fortune and serendipity are important. And many times when you have a good moment behind you miss it. When we fail we often think that we are bad photographers, we miss the shot when we are in right place at right moment, sometimes we are afraid to shot strangers… These elements explain our fear to fail. Often we perceive a failure as a subjective guilt. Simply it is part of the process and “game” of doing something. The key to success comes through a series of external factors not depending on us. Then sometimes it depends on our mistakes, but you don’t have to feel depressed, it’s part of the process and is the same for other artists.

Social media like Instagram and facebook have aggravated our fear to fail. Sometimes we feel in a sort of stupid competition with others, we are in a hurry to get a good photo to post. So we forget the importance of the process, we go out only to take good shots, failure is not contemplated. But as I said street photography is all about failure and so we become frustrated and depressed with our art. You’ve to be yourself, take photos without thinking to social media and other people. The process and the errors are the main thing. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL IN YOUR ART!

artistic selfie street photography

3) Constancy in practice

Many times we are lazy for doing street photography. Probably because it is difficult to make good photos and often we are lonely, tired by work, scared to photograph strangers. Somedays we fine excuses and justifications not to go out and photograph. (Un)fortunately practice is fundamental for everything in life. Street photography is hard, it is a physical and mental exercise, most of the time is frustrating with bad results. So we become more lazy day by day and lost the constancy in practice. In life there are also a family, work, relax, sport, so why “lost” time doing street photography? if you want become a better photographer you have to practice a lot. If results are bad it’s normal, but you’re doing physical and mental excercise, you’re improving your skills, so you’re not wasting your time.

street photography emotions

4) Fear to photograph strangers

Probably the greates mental issue when you’re doing Street photography; fear to photograph strangers with candid street shots. We’re afraid also by asking the permission to take a portrait. Again practice is the key. Think that you’re an artist, not a weird person. You have positive intentions, you want express your idea about life and modern society. When we do Street photography sometimes we are paranoic. We feel that other people in the streets are looking at us. If you’re taking photo in isolated places probably people look at you asking themself why you’re taking photos. To avoid this most of the time i prefer doing street photography in the centre of the city: there are more people, more opportunity, no one look at you just because you have a camera in your hands. You can take photogoraph of strangers pretending to photograph something in the background, like the Colosseum. Most of the time no one care about your camera. In this way i’m free to photograph in public space, my mind has less fear but more creativity.


That’s all folks

Stay well, have always light in your life

Best, F.S

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