There is no question that busy cities such as Vancouver, San Francisco or New York provide a plethora of situations and visuals, making a great stomping ground for street photographers. When talking to photographers I found many of them have their own photography “route” in the city which, with ever-changing city life, provides visuals on demand. I have routes too which are almost guaranteed to provide interesting subjects.
However, I learned a long time ago that routine and complacency are your biggest enemies. After all, photography is all about discovery and risk-taking. You shouldn’t stick to just one genre of photography because it’s detrimental to your seeing and leads to conformism in choosing your subject, place or even composition.
I often receive emails from photographers from small towns or rural areas who would love to do more street photography but are limited by their location. I understand the problem. Indeed, it‘s hard to wait 30 minutes or more in one spot without seeing a single human being.
But don’t give up – there are advantages in photographing in smaller cities or rural areas.
First, places like this have less visual noise so your “seeing” is able to slow down and you can evaluate every element before you start shooting. I notice that my composition tends to get better and even the placement of my subject gets more interesting.
Second, my interaction with people is more amusing. There is no need to rush to “the next.” You’re not bothered by traffic and crowds and your subject is not rushing to work. It is just a pleasure to chat without feeling rushed by the forces of the Big Apple.
Third, while opportunities are rare, sometimes the visuals you create are really unusual.
After travelling extensively around small-town North America, Kasia and I have run across community gatherings, festivals, parades, weddings and even funerals (those are tough and you have to be very sensitive). These events are full of people and unbelievable energy, providing a great opportunity to observe, interact with your subject and do some street photography. Yes, I said street photography!
Many people have a pre-conceived idea that the term “street photography” only applies to cities, ideally a big metropolis. I disagree. I sometimes find amazing visuals in small towns. They offer a different visual vibe, which requires your seeing to be more acute, tuned and creative. With sufficient effort you may be surprised what you will find.
We recently visited Cloverdale, British Columbia and did some street photography there. I admit we were very lucky because we caught the popular Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair event. I haven’t had so much fun with my X100F for a long time. Great Parade, great event, fantastic people!
Here are the images.
Next time … we have so much visual material for you! From street photography with the X100F to our continued coverage of the GFX system. Don’t forget to check in.
And don’t forget that our Streets of Vancouver photography workshop is coming up in late July. Hope to see you there!
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