I’ve posed that question to several street photographers in our Flickr group now and the consensus is varied. Some feel that with the advent of social media, there is so much out there (of both good and bad quality) that eventually people will lose interest and it will mostly disappear. Others feel like street photographers are documenting history and therefore, the images we are shooting today will be more valuable and sought after in a couple of decades. What do you think?
My opinion lies somewhere in the middle, but I would venture to say that well-crafted street photography will be valued in years to come for its value as art and as a historical record of years gone past. Sure, bad quality street shots uploaded 100 at a time to Flickr probably won’t be around in 20 years, but the good stuff…that should stick around.
Why Street Photography is Valuable
So, we already agreed that street photography has historical value with the passing of time but have you every thought about why? Recent years have brought about some huge changes – the internet, smart phones, globalization – and with big developments like these come big lifestyle changes. Isn’t the world a very different place today than it was, say, in 1980? And at the rate we’re going, there is likely to be many more big changes, probably in quick succession in the near future.
All of this means that we are living in a unique time period that will most certainly be fascinating to future generations. Now, the catch is making sure your images are up to par so that they will be worth looking at a few decades from now.
Contribute to the Value of Street Photography
How can you make sure your images are worth keeping around? One way is to get quality feedback from your peers and maybe more importantly any street photographers whose work you admire. On the other hand, if you can, offer valuable feedback to others. When we give (and accept) each other’s advice, street photography as a whole improves and thereby becomes more valuable.
Another way is to print (and even sell if you so desire) physical copies of your images. You may not get rich in the process, but there is no denying that physical copies add value to your work. If nothing else, your grandchildren will have a chance to admire your work no matter what happens to all your digital files in the future. Even if you don’t plan on selling your work, try to print out at least one image a month. Not only will you have a nice collection of prints after a few years, you’ll have even more motivation to continue improving your work.
Most importantly, hit the streets often with your camera and look for scenes that capture the events and culture that unfolds around you. Capture buildings and people and their stories, and you’ll be sure to come away with some timeless shots to leave behind as a sort of legacy.