Street Photography Marinate: To do, or not to do?
Street photographers marinate their photos to distance themselves from the emotions they felt while shooting. This technique also helps street shooters to improve their editing skills.
In street photography the word marinate means something totally different from what culinary experts understand.
Street photographers understand the word to mean:
Restraining yourself from looking at your photos immediately after taking them.
It’s the opposite of yet another street photography-specific word:
To chimp is to look at your images as soon as you capture them. We normally do this to check if the photos are good or not good. I first heard this word from Eric Kim.
Talking of chimping, there’s only one reason I don’t do it. I don’t chimp because it once caused me to mistakenly delete a very important photo.
I was shooting in town the other day and saw traffic officers confiscating goods from the hawkers. As this one officer was busy picking up the stuff from a street seller, I took a few shots.
A moment later I viewed the photos on my LCD screen and realised I had a keeper. This was a great news photo as well. I immediately realised that I could sell it to the local newspaper.
A few blocks away from the spot I checked to see how much memory I had on my card. It was full. But there was more action that I needed to capture.
So I started deleting some of the photos that I knew were not worth keeping. It was on a clear bright day and difficult to see the LCD. I accidentally erased that one photo. The one I thought was a keeper. I’m still kicking myself for losing that photo.
This taught me a lesson about chimping. And the lesson is: Don’t chimp.
In street photography to marinate means leaving your photos to ‘cool down.’
For example, after taking several photos in Polokwane last week I decided to let them marinate. I resisted the urge to look at them. Not only did I resist the temptation to take a look. I also hesitated because I was afraid that the photos were not good.
So, in a sense, I was also protecting myself from being disappointed.
As I write this, I don’t know which photos I’m going to use in this blog post. I’m reluctant to view them.
How long should street photographers let their photos marinate?
How long do you allow your images to marinate?
Eric is known to let his photos marinate for up to two years. Rinzi Ruiz once said that he sometimes waits up to a year before looking at his photos for the first time.
I’m not that patient. I shoot digital, so chimping comes naturally to me. Sometimes I feel sorry for analog shooters. I know that film photography compels you to wait for a while before you can see your photos. But I find the suspense unbearable.
So, the question then is:
To marinate or not to marinate?
Experienced street photographers such as those mentioned above will certainly advice you to: Let it Marinate!
I’m happy that this is only a guide or tip. It’s not a rule cast in stone.
After allowing my pictures to marinate for almost a week, I can’t take it anymore.
My trip to Polokwane was not solely to shoot street photography. I explained in this article why my family and I were visiting the biggest South African city north of Johannesburg – Pietersburg.
There was very little time for street photography. But on Saturday we visited the Mall of the North and I sneaked in a few shots. It was late in the afternoon or early evening and most shops were already closed.
So, we strolled in the mall looking for shops that were still open.
There were very few people doing window shopping like us. I felt like a child as photo opportunities presented themselves.
I used flash with some of the photos because my phone is not good at handling noise. Yes, I shoot with my smart phone as I don’t own a camera at the moment.
I also took pictures at the Peter Mokaba stadium. The feature image on this post is one of those that I managed to shoot at the Mall of the North.
To marinate or not to marinate? That’s the question.
The answer is: It’s up to you. You decide.
As for me, letting my photos marinate for a day or week is enough. How about you?
Please let me know in the comments section below. You can also connect with me onand view some of my photos on .