STREET PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE PART 2: HOW TO BE DIFFERENT
There are many street photography styles to choose from.
Different Street Photography Styles:
1. Candid Street Photography
2. Portrait Street Photography
3. Flash Street Photography
4. Architectural Street Photography
5. Geometric Street Photography
6. Photojournalistic Street Photography
7. Indoor Street Photography
8. Social Documentary Street Photography
9. Urban Landscape Street Photography
10. Abstractions Street Photography
Street Photography Style Part 2: How to be different
There are different styles of street photography. Every street photographer sees the world differently. Hence the various styles in which we shoot.
For example, Daido Moriyama developed his own style of photography. He probably did not know about street photography at that time. But he started by shooting what he liked. Daido did not want to ‘follow the crowd’. He wanted something different from what was generally accepted in his circles.
I’m not saying that you should imitate or copy Daido Moriyama’s style of street photography. Rather, I’m saying: look for things that you like or wish to communicate to the world. Look for stories that you want to tell with your photos.
LOOK FOR THINGS THAT YOU LIKE OR WISH TO COMMUNICATE TO THE WORLD. LOOK FOR STORIES THAT YOU WANT TO TELL WITH YOUR PHOTOS.
What are your photos saying to the viewer? What message do you wish to convey to the viewer of your images?
I’m not talking about camera settings here. Nor am I talking about what camera to use, what lens, film, flash or filter to use. Those are just tools of the trade.
I’m talking about the story. We are story tellers. Street photographers are story tellers. You are a story-teller. What story are you telling?
What’s your story?
HOW TO DEVELOP A STREET PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE.
I live in a township. There are thousands of other people who live in Mhluzi Township. Most people in this neighbourhood walk to work. They do so because they either do not have their own cars or they don’t have money for public transport. Some walk to work because public transport is not available in their section of the township.
I also walk to work everyday. Monday to Friday I leave home at around 06h30 and walk towards town. It takes me half an hour to get to my place of work. There are many reasons why I prefer to walk instead of boarding a taxi. When my budget does not allow for a taxi fare, I simply walk. But I also walk because it’s my way of exercising. I don’t do push ups in the morning or at any other time of the day. I don’t excessive. But the main reason I enjoy walking is that it gives me a chance to see other people.
As we walk I watch what people are doing. What they are wearing. How they walk and how they talk. What languages they speak. By listening to people talking I learn so many things about them.
Foreigners in South Africa fascinates me. I’m referring to African migrants such as the Mozambicans, Zimbabweans and Nigerians.
I don’t understand the languages they speak. But generally I can tell if someone is a Mozambican or Zimbabwean. The Former speak Portuguese and the latter speak Shona or Ndebele. The Nigerians mostly speak English.
Seeing foreigners in my neck of the wood invokes so many stories in my mind.
It’s these stories that I want to capture with my lens. I want to convey to the world what I see happening in South Africa today compared to what was happening during the Apartheid days.
Their stories also show my concern about foreigners. South Africa experienced several cases of Xenophobia in the past and these also influences my thinking.
I’m not xenophobic myself. But when I hear somebody speak a language that I don’t understand or recognise as one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, I ask myself several questions. Like: where does he or she live? Are they employed? Are they here legally or not?
If they’re not here legally, how do they survive?
I guess these questions reflect my past experiences. There was a time when I too was treated like a foreigner in my country. I had to carry a Dompas as an identity document.
I remember how difficult life was in those days. And I ask myself how these fellow Africans are coping in South Africa. It’s particularly difficult for them to find employment.
On the other hand, they are vulnerable and often exploited by unscrupulous employers who pay them too little. But what strikes me more about African migrants is their strong survival instincts.
SOCIAL DOCUMENTARY STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
I prefer to call this style of street photography Social Documentary Street Photography. I’m not telling this story like a journalist or like a documentary photographer. My images are not newsworthy and the stories are not as detailed like a documentary.
I tell slices of life from my own perspective. My view of other Africans in a foreign country. I don’t interview people. I just capture what I see and what I perceive. The photos are not preconceived or planned in any way.
But they are similar in that these images are almost exclusively of foreigners. The migrants’ survival tactics enables them to find a way of making a living.
They buy and resell stuff at a marked up price. These traders or hawkers risk having their wares confiscated by the police or traffic officers. But they never stop hustling. Some sell DVDs, sunglasses or brooms.
The women prefer to sell food or offer hair care services.
It’s this survival instinct that I want to portray and convey to the world.
Street photography allows me to tell these stories. But it’s not the only thing I shoot.
You don’t have to stick to only one street photography style. I talk about this Social Documentary Street Photography Style to show you that you can choose what to shoot. This will always depend on your aims and or desires.
Street Photography comprises several styles. It means different things to different people. Don’t feel like you have to conform to any specific way of shooting the streets. But it’s a good idea to know your own approach to the genre. As long as you align yourself to at least one Street Photography Style you’ll be OK.
This is Street Photography Style Part 2. Depending on your response to this article, I may write Street Photography Style Part 3 in the near future.
Over to you.
What’s your Street Photography Style?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philemon Nkadimeng is a Street Photography Blogger based in South Africa. You can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook. Check his African Perspective images on his Instagram account.