As a GCSE student, it’s hard to find solace in your hobbies when they have been turned into subjects that demand coursework and grades. I took photography as an option purely out of curiosity. My parents were surprised because I had always shown more interest in creating videos and short films and to be totally honest with you I had made the decision based on one high grade I had received two years prior in an art half-term assignment. However, I’m glad I chose photography because it has opened up the world for me and I now often look at the streets either through a physical viewfinder or a fictional one.
The idea of street photography had always appealed to me but the pure fear of being shouted at by a stranger overwhelmed any desire to take photos. It wasn’t until I discovered the likes of Fan Ho and Joel Meyerowitz that I dismissed these fears and realised that the result would be worth the small chance of public embarrassment. Film photography had also always intrigued me. With things that are classed as ‘retro’ having a resurgence in the past few years, such as vinyl, cassettes, and of course film, it was only a matter of time until I tried it.
My first attempt at film photography are the pictures you see above and below in this article and whilst they aren’t incredible and record-breaking, I do feel as though I succeeded in what I set out to do. Not only did they achieve the grades and tick the boxes that they needed to do for school but I finally felt as though my photography was going somewhere and maybe even saying something. Perhaps saying something is a little too far but I did know that I had taken a step in the right direction.
There is a certain rush that comes from taking a photo of a stranger particularly when you know that the photo will be good. You may earn a rather dirty look every now and then but it’s worth it when you get home, open the picture on your laptop and see that not only did this look make its way into the final outcome but also that no one was hurt in the process. I expect to earn many more of these looks in the future but I also expect to get better at dealing with them afterwards. I am terrified of conflict and I seek validation whether it be a family member or a stranger on the streets of Soho and so you may be thinking that photography isn’t the best hobby for me to choose. But this most likely won’t stop me so I’ll just have to improve on the desperate need to please people. Or not.
So, let me answer the question: why I enjoy street photography. There are many parts to my answer but I will try to be concise as I’m sure you have lots of things to do today as well as lots of things to procrastinate doing. First of all, it made me less scared of the real world. I am so used to living my life through books or other’s stories and street photography has forced me to go out and experience the public in an uncensored way. Second of all, I see the world now in a different way and I am able to appreciate the beauty of the places that we live in much more detail.
Finally, it’s just fun. Simple as that. I went out for a shoot the other morning, it was bitter and I couldn’t feel my hands for the majority of the time but that feeling when I saw the sun rise up over the cranes of the city and I knew that the shot was going to be perfect is unmatched. For anyone who is questioning as to whether they should buy a camera or even just use their phones to try out street photography, I implore you to go for it. It doesn’t matter if the photos are good or not, what matters is that you’re doing something for the fun of it rather than because a teacher, parent or executive is telling you to do so. I hope to one day write another article further outlining why I enjoy taking photos as much as I do except the pictures shown will be wildly better. But if I don’t, at least I can say that I am content with these.