What makes a street photography project a success? That is a good question, and really, there’s no concrete answers here folks, no hard, fast rules. Much depends on how you get started and what your goal is when you begin. That said, there are a few key elements every street photography project should include.
Inspiration for a street photography project can come from just about anywhere. Your project might be about documenting a particular city or a specific place in a city. It might revolve around a group of people, a specific culture. Or its focus might be broader, highlighting the commonalities of humanity in general. Your project may even be about something more abstract or a specific piece of equipment (i.e. Brad Chippington’s 35mm project from Issue 8 of SPM). Wherever your inspiration comes from, focus on it and then brainstorm.
If you’re having trouble finding a source of inspiration, try seeking out a few successful projects by other photographers. For example, check out what Danny Santos had to say about Shooting Strangers and his 5 Sec Faces project. You can also find at least one photo project in each issue of Street Photography Magazine. Each of these projects are quite varied in their focus and duration. Getting to know others’ inspiration, methods, and finished projects might just be what you need to bring your own project into focus.
Your project won’t be successful if you don’t define your objectives and give yourself a specific set of guidelines. What is your goal with this project? What will your timeline look like? Will it be a month-long project, a year-long project, an indefinite project? Any length is fine, but choose a length and stick to it. When will you work on your project? Set aside time during each week or month for this purpose. Will you need to travel to complete your project? Budget and plan your trip.
Creating Something of Value
Thinking about uploading each photo you take to your Flickr account as you take it? Don’t. If you want to create something of value, take your time selecting your photos. Wait a few days or months even. Instead of waiting for the amount of likes on your photo to tell you if it was a good capture, take a tip from Brian Quillinan in his article “I am Not a Street Photographer” and ask your friends what they like or don’t like about a specific image or a set of images. What should your goal be? To find yourself in your images. To find a sequence of images that reflects who you are. If you can do that, says Brian, “Then you will have something that is well worth sharing with others.”
So there you have it. Find your inspiration, define your objective and your timeline, and then sift through your photos to find a meaningful sequence that reflects you, the photographer. With these key elements, you can make a success of your next street photography project.