“For me, capturing what I feel with my body is more important than the technicalities of photography. If the image is shaking, it’s OK, if it’s out of focus, it’s OK. Clarity isn’t what photography is about.” – Daido Moriyama
One of the common mistakes a lot of photographers make is that they are too analytical when they shoot street photography. They forget the most important part of photography: photographing what you feel with your heart.
Daido Moriyama is one of Japan’s most famous photographers who popularized the “stream-of-consciousness” style of photography. Not only that, but he popularized the radical “are, bure, boke” (grainy, blurry, out-of-focus) aesthetic, which rebelled against the photography at the time, which focused on making hyper-sharp images with fancy high-end cameras.
What is “stream-of-consciousness” in photography you ask? Well, the concept is that your thoughts, emotions, and ideas are like a river or stream, flowing through your mind. You trust your intuition, instincts, and gut.
When you’re shooting street photography, you just photograph what you find interesting, without any judgement, self-criticism, or frustration. You setup your camera with fully-auto settings, and just point-and-click. It is the purest form of “snapshot” photography, where you aren’t thinking like an “artist.” You are just like a child, exploring the world, and photographing what you find interesting.
If you shoot with a “stream-of-consciousness,” realize that the majority of your shots won’t be very good. In-fact, you will make a lot of crappy, uninteresting, and boring photographs. However if you channel your emotions into your photos, they will become more personally meaningful to you. Furthermore, this feeling will transfer to the viewer.
This makes the editing process so important. You need to always get a second opinion on your photos, and to see if other people get the same emotions from your photograph as you do.
The emotions you feel while shooting street photography won’t always translate to your viewers. However the more you shoot with your heart (and not with your brain), the more likely you are to translate what a scene feels like to your viewer.