The biggest difference between a good street photographer and a great one is never the equipment, the training or even the talent. The biggest difference is the mindset. As director of The Miami Street Photography Festival for the last three years I had a chance to observe, talk and work with some of the best photographers in the world. This experience gave me great insights on what makes them great instead of just good. It’s what I call “the street photography mindset.”
Here are ten things great street photographers think every day to help them create the artistic mindset that leads to amazing pictures.
1-“There’s a lot more going on here ”
There is always a lot going on the street but we will only see it when we get rid of the default negative thought of “ there’s nothing happening here”, otherwise we will fail to look deeper and we’ll miss great opportunities. Change the mindset from one of scarcity (nothing happening) to one of abundance (there is a lot happening).
2-“No one else has done that… so I will.”
This is simply a mindset that will force us to be original. The default thought is “ I’ve seen that before, I can do it too”. This default mindset leads to take shots that have been done already and that everyone has seen way too many times ( that’s why it occurred to us). Change the default mindset of similarity to one of originality.
“To look at a thing is very different from seeing it.” – Oscar Wilde
3- “I can’t do everything today… but I can take one small step.”
This helps create a mindset of acceptance. Accepting that we won’t get a hundred spectacular shots today and that even one good one, or none at all, will be perfectly fine too takes the pressure of having to perform so we can allow our minds to work freely without any constraints
4-“It doesn’t matter what other people might say.”
We all know this but is not our default mindset. Most of the time we worry about what other people think and how many “Likes” we will get. Let it go already. Nobody cares. It only matters if we like it. Great street photographers shoot for themselves with a mindset of believing and trusting in themselves.
5- “Always be grateful for the opportunities”
Great street photographers know that there are endless opportunities for powerful images and appreciate all of them, good or bad. Each new opportunity brings new possibilities and having this grateful mindset allows for those opportunities to manifest themselves.
“Don’t be repressed in your work, dare to experiment, consider any urge, if in a new direction all the better.” -Edward Weston
6-“What can I learn from this so I will do better next time? ”
This is probably one of the most important things great street photographers do. Instead of the default thinking of “I suck” they adopt a growth mindset, which always looks for ways to get better and do better. Change the negative talk ( fixed mindset) to a constructive talk ( growth mindset). Great artists don’t listen to the voice of judgment; they only listen to the voice of wisdom.
7- “I shouldn’t but I will”
This way of thinking allows us to take risks, a crucial element to get good images on the street. Great street photographers always get out of their comfort zone and push their limits. But remember, courage is not the same as bravado. Be courteous and be careful. (In other words, don’t be stupid)
8- “I could but I won’t ”
This is a freedom of choice mindset that allows us to use mindset # 6 above the right way. It also reminds us to be respectful of people ( it will reflect on your images if you’re not and great street photos are always respectful). This way of thinking allows us freedom to make choices. We always have a choice and if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” -Anais Nin
9- “It’s not about me.”
It’s never about us. It is always about the subject and the viewer. This mindset forces us to always do our best to make the subject look good and to capture an interesting image for the viewer. It’s about them, not about us winning a contest or being selected on Flickr.
10-“If nothing else, I will have fun.”
This mindset allows us to let go of expectations and not be overly concerned with the outcome but focus instead on the process. This is also a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. The default thinking is that if we are getting great shots then it would be lots of fun. Great street photographers think the opposite and always make it fun, regardless of the outcome, because they know having fun and enjoying the process is what leads to great shots in the long run.
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All images on this post are (C) Juan Jose Reyes. All Rights Reserved