2 Reasons Why Introspection Improves Street Photography

Introspection Improves Street Photography


Introspection is the basis of your own unique personal style as a street photographer.


Today I want to talk about introspection as it relates to street photography. Introspection can help you improve your street photography. We’ll define introspection. What introspection does. How introspection improves street photography. And how you can draw inspiration from introspection. I’ll also relate two stories that illustrate how introspection affects my street photography.

I watched a video on YouTube the other day and this guy was shooting street photography in Tokyo. When he photographed an elderly gentleman who looked like he was in his eighties, he commented:

‘This is me 50 years from now.’

The street photographer saw himself in the old man. That’s introspection.

Introspection will help improve your street photography by:

  • Encouraging you to work on a theme
  • Sharpening your observation skills
  • Giving your images a voice
  • Follow your own style
  • Making your photos memorable


What is introspection?


“The contemplation of your own thoughts, desires and conduct ” – WordWeb


“Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, and so they don’t find themselves at all.” – Rollo May


“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” – Lewis Carroll


“You can’t lie to your soul.” – Irvine Welsh


“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart.” – C.G. Jung


“The only journey is the one within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

How Introspection Improves Street Photography


It’s natural to think about aging or growing old. I see myself in aged people when I see an old man and think:

‘I wonder how old he is. Will I live long enough to reach that age? Do I want to live until I’m this old?’

You may remember that I expressed similar sentiments about John Free the other day.

Thinking in this way can help you find subjects for your street photography project. You might want to photograph old people to make a specific point. For example, you can decide to document people in their seventies or eighties  to highlight the challenges they face or characteristics they have. Such a project can produce memorable images that set you apart from your peers.


Introspection will help you improve your street photography because it motivates you to focus on specific ideas or projects.


The photo below help to illustrate this point. Let me explain. I’m a delivery driver. That’s what I do to pay the bills. I’ve worked for the same employer as a delivery driver for 10 years. My job takes me to Johannesburg every week. As a delivery driver I see other drivers everyday. We meet at some of the places where we collect or deliver goods. Drivers from same industries know one another because they meet at these spots regularly.

My eye is automatically drawn to delivery drivers when I’m out shooting street photography. We all see delivery drivers everyday in our lives.


Introspection Improve Your Street Photography.jpg
Introspection – Improve Your Street Photography: Delivery Driver


Do you have any photos of delivery drivers in your archive? Have you ever thought of capturing these men and women and thus immortalizing their contributions to the economy?

It was New Year Eve in 2015 when I captured this photo of two delivery drivers in Middelburg.

It was particularly busy in town on that day as people were rushing around buying food and beverages to celebrate the New Year. When I left home to go and shoot that day I wanted to capture the vibe of last-minute shopping. 


But the only keeper that I came back with was this photo of two men delivering meat.


My inner delivery driver alerted me to these guys as their truck slowed down next to Jumbo Butchery in SADC street. I watched them for a few minutes . While waiting for them to park their vehicle, I set my camera in preparation for this shot. I then walked briskly towards them. 

When the man outside of the truck looked up and saw that I was pointing my camera at him he was almost shocked. He had this heavy chunk of meat on his shoulder and did not know how to react. I liked the eye contact as it makes this photo more interesting.

Introspection Improves Street Photography – Unveils The Farm Labourer In Me


Whenever I see a farm-worker my heart sinks. I think about the plight of men and women who toil on the farms for a pittance. I think about the poor living conditions these people have to endure. The poverty of some of South African farm-workers pains my heart.

How do I know the plight of our brothers and sisters on these farms? I used to work as a farm labourer myself. I remember the poor conditions, the squalor and the oppression I used to endure on the farms around Groblersdal and Marble Hall.


Introspection Improves Street Photography 2.jpg
Introspection Improves Street Photography – Farm Labourers


This photo depicts women who work on a farm about 13 kilometres north of Middelburg. They sleep on the floor. There are no mattresses, no beds, no television. These women work six days a week in return for bags of maize meal. No money goes into their pockets or purses. And yet they’re expected to buy what is commonly refered to here as Seshebo or relish. Their employer is kind enough to give them pap only.

Images like this trigger sad memories of my earlier years when I was a farm boy. My heart goes out to people like these.

Introspection thus let me think of specific events or ideas that I can capture with my camera as a street photographer. Introspection can help you decide on what to shoot, what message to convey and why you shoot. And since your experiences are different from mine and from those of other people, introspection will help you capture unique images that will set you apart or make your work stand out.


Embrace Introspection And Release Those Creative Juices


Introspection is the basis of your own unique personal style as a street photographer. Embrace it. Don’t be afraid to face your own demons or those skeletons in the closet.

If you liked this post please share it.

Till next time 

Keep Shooting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *