Why Street Photography Should Be Important To Everyone

February 20, 2019  •  1 Comment

Street photography saves us from ourselves. Why do we do urban photography? Why is it important?

It's 7 degrees in Chicago before wind chill. I'm standing on Michigan avenue with my gloves in my back pocket.  Familiar numbness creeping into my fingers, ears stinging as a new gust of sub-zero wind flies up off of the lake and goes on a journey to slap me in the side of the head with it's brittle hands. Standing dead still numbers running through my head "light beams coming out of alley to the right, change angle. lower ISO, open up aperture to f-3, too much light, not enough depth of field, close to f-4 raise shutter speed 1/2000 check EV and WB... Overexposed raise to 1/4000, perfect." As I ignore the harassment from a Chicago February evening gust.  Nobody is paying me to be here, yet here I am.  Why?

Because in this day and age the majority of the photos we see are disingenuous polished and filtered, one selfie out of a slew of 30 that we took to get just the right angle, soften it with a blur, brighten the eyes.  All done with a slider on our iPhone.  "Birthday out with the girls!!" as we make the bartender take 15 different shots until all of our arms get tired holding our Vegas bombs together in a posed shot of shots. 

Street photography provides a needed counterpoint in the story of who we are.  Candid shots of people show the humanity we hide, the truth about who "we" really are.  Not everything needs to be perfect, Life is more beautiful because of the imperfections.  

An honest street photo does so much more than just show you a person, it shows you the state of a place at a time, and it shows you struggles.  It documents history as it really is through the photographers eyes.  Sometimes it's a story that may not have been told without a story teller on the outside.


Not everyone has the means or the will to tell their story as it really is. To bring attention to what our culture is, and some of the ramifications of our society.  

All photography serves a purpose, and you can make beautiful art in a studio with lighting set up, and a tripod, remotes, stacked exposure layers.

But you make truth on the street, and now more than ever, we need this truth as a society.


It's not always ugly, but how much exposure is a row of sleeping bags on lower whacker going to get without someone to push it into the open?  It's a story that needs to be told, much more than Kyle's bachelor party shots, or even Susan's engagement ring. This is who we are as a civilization and what we turn a blind eye to allowing. 

If you have a camera and a story, you have everything it takes to tell that story.  Others will be served better by you doing it.  and not all of the stories are sad, they aren't all damning of our species.



We can also tell a story of hope.  We can share progress, and show the possibility of a better future.  Sometimes it's just something we stumble upon as we're walking through life.  These stories need to be told just as much!  


So if you've got a story to tell don't hold on to it.  Use your numb fingers to manipulate the dials, ignore the chill.  Tell your story.



I love street photography as well. My start as a photographer began hopping from abandoned houses, farms and buildings to capturing spontaneous moments, while freelancing for a few different newspapers. Loved every minute of it!
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