Do you ever find yourself lacking inspiration when it comes to street photography? You know, the streets are there, the people are too, but you just aren’t feeling it anymore. I’d wager it’s happened to everyone at some point. Some reasons I’ve heard street photographers confess (and felt personally) include personal life changes, over-familiarity with an area, lack of an urban core in the town where you live, and/or simply lacking inspiration without really knowing why.
So, what’s the solution? Is there a solution when you aren’t sure why you are lacking inspiration? About five years ago we did an interview that really stuck with me because we covered a ton of different sources of inspiration for street photography. Literally, something for everyone. The interview was with Hal Padgett who is, like me, a resident of Jacksonville, Florida.
We did this interview at a time when I had recently come back from a long stretch living abroad. South America had been such a fascinating place. Everything and everyone was so different from me. There were interesting subjects and places around every corner. Upon returning to the U.S., I found the streets of the place where I grew up uninspiring, boring even. Hal helped me see that there are always plenty of people and places, even in my own hometown, that are totally different from me and worth exploring. He helped me regain some of my lost inspiration, which is why I wanted to share his interview with you in this week’s newsletter.
Among the many sources of inspiration Hal talked about, here are a few worth mentioning:
- Read books, especially works by other talented street photographers. Looking at others’ works can inspire you to try new styles of photography. You might imitate at first, but eventually your own personality will shine through and you may find a new genre that renews your inspiration. Hal had a good example of this in mind. He noted that George Jones started out his career imitating Hank Williams, but with time became a country music legend in his own right, with a style all of his own.
- Be willing to change your scene. Street photography is often about exploration. Hal had to find a new place to shoot when the Jacksonville pier was shut down after some serious hurricane damage and the results were amazing.
- Get involved, without being aggressive. Become part of the scenery. Go to community events, infiltrate, spend time, let your subjects get comfortable, talk to people, you might be surprised at the results you get when you get involved.
Hal also talked about the effects of learning to observe, becoming interested in gear, looking at other forms of art, practicing, measuring success, and talking to people. Everyone is different for sure, but we covered multiple ways to regain that lost inspiration. I think there’s probably a little something for just about anyone in Hal’s thoughts.
And if you haven’t already, subscribe to Street Photography Magazine for tips, tricks and even more inspiration from dozens of talented street photographers all over the world.