I am primarily self-taught and I have only ever taken photographs for myself. I photograph every day. Sometimes it’s just a few frames, sometimes several rolls.
I think that a good street photo requires both precision and chance. What I pay attention to is not accidental, yet there is a certain amount of fate that must be injected – usually at the last moment – for a street photo to work. So my normal practice is to walk around with a few cameras and a rough sense of expectation but I never know exactly what I will photograph.
As for the finished product, a street photograph either works or it doesn’t. There is no middle ground. If the slightest thing is out of order – an arm two inches lower, a pedestrian’s gaze looking slightly left or right, the wrong color car in the background – the entire photo fails. If no amount of revision can improve the photo, it’s a success. But of course one never knows which it will be until later, and even then it’s sometimes hard to tell.
I generally enjoy images that are absurd in the way zen koans are absurd or that are impenetrable on a certain level.
But all that is after the fact. As for making the actual photos, I have no recipe which guarantees good ones beyond a simple faith in serendipity. To quote Doisneau, “If I knew how to take a good photo, I’d do it every time.”
Since 2007 I’ve run the blog B, which offers an irreverent view on a wide range of topics including street photography.News Stories by Blake Andrews