Adam’s Street: The Importance of Being Earnest

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Last time I spoke about the possible differences between reportage, documentary and street.

But all that said, I feel it’s important not to lose sight of what a photograph should be

The potential pitfall of holding lofty views about what constitutes a true street photograph is that it’s easy to fall into a trap of believing your content outweighs everything else.

I mean it can…. Some of the most famous photographs of all time (from any genre) wouldn’t exactly be the last word in technical delivery, but sure do have amazing content.

But in this modern world of thumbnail sized images that all compete for our attention, I think it’s safe to say that if your photo isn’t one that jumps out off of the screen for it’s technically great aesthetic, then it had had better have some great event going on in there! After all, people don’t browse Instagram as meticulously as they do galleries and exhibitions.

For my personal preference to photography, this presents me with a bit of a conundrum…

But before I get into that, please let me get something off my chest…

When I started writing about photography and cameras, I made a promise to myself to try and be dignified.

I’m not completely oblivious to the various shortcuts that exists to gather readers and views.

10 contemporary photographers that I think are completely overrated

10 reasons why you’re an idiot if you don’t shoot RAW or do shoot RAW

Why anyone who shoots with a (insert camera brand here) is wasting their time

10 modern styles of photography that have been done to death

I promised myself I would NEVER write articles like that, and besides like I wrote already in a an earlier segment, the last thing ANY genre of photography needs is more people saying what that genre of photography needs 🙂

I don’t like every camera, every picture, every photographer that I encounter. Hell no.

But to spend my time writing in a negative manner just seems -to me at least- like a poor use of time.

My time and yours.

But, like I said, this presents me with a bit of a conundrum.

If I see a photograph or street style that a) I don’t really rate and b) seems to be getting a lot of traction (and that does happen 😉 ) then I’m a little torn… Nope, not to dive in and start telling some stranger on the internet how rubbish I think their work is… that’s not my style at all…

No I find myself asking am I missing something here? should I be investigating that style or that PP look or that subject? Should I push to one side my PERSONAL opinion that I don’t like that style/PP/subject and instead embrace it?

The truthful answer is of course shades of grey… sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes a little bit, other times a little bit more

The definitive answer might be somewhat more hard line. And that answer is no.

The importance of being earnest is to follow your own path, to accept that others work will influence you, and that you’ll assimilate style by both liking and disliking what you see others do.

I think this should happen via osmosis (sic) no?

I’m surprised no one’s written a guide to being a famous social media street photographer (and maybe they have, who knows) but if such a creature existed, what might it say?

1) Find out what style’s hot
2) Copy it
3) Start following all the folk that give kudos to the photographers utilising the style that you’re copying
4) Start pruning away those that don’t follow back
5) Bask in the glory of your excellent work and colossal followers list

I PERSONALLY cannot think of many creative things less shallow than that. A rain drop has more depth.

So, for me – the importance of being earnest (which is well worth seeing at the theatre by the way) means I’ll pick my own path and follow it organically.

And my personal path is what I consider to be a traditional, timeless and old fashioned style of photography.

Sure, that might make me appear to be some sort of half-Man Ray, a bargain basement Cartier-Bresson, a Krusty the Klown Kertesz or even a Fan-boi Ho, with his dreamy head wedged up his poo filled backside…

….But this to me is what is important. This is what thrills me and makes to want to shoot urban scenes.

IT’S NOT THAT I BELIEVE I CAN EVER BE AS GOOD AS THOSE PHOTOGRAPHERS I MENTION ABOVE

It’s that I believe that their style is as good as we’ve had and yet to be surpassed.

And when we believe in something, we’re being earnest and personally I find that a rewarding feeling.

The importance of being earnest… a generation X child in a millennial world coveting the style of his grandparents age… (whilst writing an article that quotes a play from the end of the 19th century)

Until next time.

Cheers

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5 Replies to “Adam’s Street: The Importance of Being Earnest”

  1. Screw the critics and the followers. Do what pleases you and let time, history and the universe sort it out. Unless of course you are seriously trying to make a living at this … in which case what you really need is a day job and a good psychiatrist; not necessarily in that order.

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