There is something powerful about street photography: it captures delicate, tacit moments and immortalises them. It satisfies a bit of that curiosity for the world that sits deep within me. When I think about street photography, it is the connections between people and other people, and people and the world which motivates me to shoot. I love seeing how life happens; how the small, everyday things people do keep the societal cogs turning. I thought it might be interesting to look back over my street photography sessions from 2018 and think about how my approach to snapping photos changed over that time…
I started 2018 on holiday in Wales – this was where I first started using the manual settings on my camera more and relying less on its automatic features. I shot mostly landscape photos during my week there but managed to squeeze in several street photography moments. As I was focussed on learning new methods of taking photos, I didn’t have many expectations of myself in terms of content. This was quite a freeing feeling, and I was pretty happy with the pictures I got.
After Wales, it was quite a long time before I did another good street photography session. I was working, studying and not really going anywhere that inspired me to get my camera out. That was until June, and a month-long backpacking trip, which started in…
I didn’t take that many photos of people in Athens – it was the first stop on our trip so I was a bit out of practice/confidence with my camera and I was busy taking everything in with my eyes instead. Also, there were plenty of pretty impressive ruins to draw my attention away, so people fell out of my favour a little.
Warsaw followed suit: I didn’t feel able to, or very much inspired, to snap shots of people in Poland. The buildings were cool though. It’s okay to direct your art somewhere else if one idea isn’t working out – shooting portraits wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing at the time and so I tried something different.
Prague was a different story altogether. A bustling city, jam-packed with people rushing here and there through snaking, cobbled streets. The best kind of environment for a sometimes-nervous street photographer (tips on how to deal with that here). My confidence returned and photographing people was back on the table.
Amsterdam was the last European pin on the map for this particular journey – my desire to shoot portraits continued. I found this a good city for taking such photos, people there didn’t seem too bothered to be captured and there was enough going on to find interesting shots all around the city. It was fun being in a place with so many cyclists, subjects for my photos were never in short supply.
The final stop on this amazing trip was the iconic New York. Easily my favourite place to shoot
last year ever. Finding a subject to take a photo of was almost too easy, and the backdrop was always great. I felt confident shooting there, people were everywhere and always in a rush – it allowed me to blend in with the crowd.
Latvia, Estonia and Finland
A few days after getting home from this backpacking adventure, I went away again. This time with my family, to three capital cities – Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki. I found it quite difficult to take photos of people here, especially after the wonderfully overwhelming experience of New York. Firstly, there was the issue that not so many people were about. And then, of course, there was the issue that people seem more aware and self-conscious of your camera in some cities, making it feel uncomfortable to shoot. In my experience, these three cities fell into this category.
It didn’t turn out too badly though, and I got some shots I really liked from this trip. However, most of these are on a hard drive I don’t have access to while I’m at university, so I don’t have much to share on here unfortunately. I did write a whole travel photo journal for Riga before though, so you can see more photos from Latvia here.
After all of my travelling experiences, I felt keen to shoot in my hometown. Without an outsider’s perspective though, I didn’t know what to focus on. Then, the huge event that is Pride took place, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to get my camera out again. You can see the full Pride photo journal here.
At the beginning of September, I headed off to Spain for a week – to Corella, San Sebastian and Bilbao. I really enjoyed shooting in these locations, I found myself really getting into exploring lighting and shadows. I wrote a whole photo journal about Corella if you want to see more.
Throughout the rest of Autumn, I didn’t really find the time or inspiration to shoot much. The start of university took precedence over that. However, after Christmas, I went to the Peak District and got back into it a little. I found it quite hard to refind my rhythm behind the lens but I’m happy that I managed to get another set of shots in before the end of 2018.
Lessons learnt from my 2018 street photography
I think I grew a lot, photographically, over the last year. Putting together this post has made me realise several things about the street photography process:
Even if you have the opportunity to shoot amazing photos, it doesn’t mean you have to seize it.
It is good to care about your art, but don’t let that ruin your enjoyment of the present moment.
Your confidence will wax and wane, take advantage of your bold moments but don’t beat yourself up over your more fragile ones.
I hope you enjoyed this photography recap ❤
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