Thoughts On “Street Gurus”

There a quite a few street gurus out there. Photographers who make a living off their blogs by posting reviews, a lot of advice, and sometimes some very definitive statements about the genre of street photography. They often make statements and long winded posts on how to stay motivated, what makes a good street photograph (complete with compositional diagrams), the best books to look at, what makes this or that camera the best camera for street photography, etc., etc., etc….. Oh, and yes, don’t forget to take my workshop please. I’ll show you all the ins and outs of shooting on the street. I would very much like to know how these guys got their street cred?

I can’t fault them for trying to making a living off what they do and love. Sometimes I wish I could, but, I cannot be like them.

 While one might be able to show others technique, there are elements of being a street photographer, let alone, a photographer that one cannot teach. I think the best path to being a photographer or just someone who wants to express themselves by any other means – music, writing, sports, painting, etc., is to look, listen, read, those people who are doing something that is closely aligned to how you feel about expressing yourself through your chosen medium.

I am not against workshops, school, or apprenticeships. Somewhere, somehow, we must learn the technicalities of handling the tools of our chosen medium. To make better images?  Go to museums, buy books, study photo/art history, but most of all …. shoot. Photograph every day. Photograph through whatever you are feeling. Carry your camera everywhere. Too big? Get a small pocketable camera or photograph with your phone. There are no excuses. Even if you don’t, the idea is planted in your mind. It’s always there. Inspiration is everywhere as well. In a book, in a song, in a pile of trash, in the sandwich you’re eating, wherever.

I always hated the statement, “I don’t know what to do because everything has already been done.” Nothing has been done until you yourself experience it. All through “Laurence of Arabia”, Peter O’Toole keeps hearing, “Everything is written.” and keeps quiet in response. Laurence, Peter O’Toole, finally gets to a place within himself and when he hears that statement again, responds, “Nothing is written.”

Sooner or later you will stop emulating those that you admire and your own voice will appear. You will, through hard work, recognize it. It will demand your response. It will be yours then and yours only.


Published by Keith Goldstein

Photographer, husband, dad, and passionate cyclist. Lives and works in New York City.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts On “Street Gurus”

  1. Great post lots to think about. i’ve had a few pictures published even displayed in my hometown, but I’ve always sort of followed my own path taking pictures of what I wanted to. I love street photography but I will never shoot it as I am deathly afraid to point my camera in the direction of people, I suppose it’s a personal thing I’m just a coward on the street if you know what I mean. But, I love and appreciate that art.

    Have not had a chance to get through your blog yet as I am new to this whole blog thing, but I plan to do so in the next few weeks. Thanks again for your post and your thoughts I appreciate it … and have a great New Year’s

  2. I tend t disagree on the “shoot every day” part of your otherwise perfectly right thoughts. Maybe because I grew up (in terms of phgotography) in the analogue age where every shot cost a fortune. Having barely any money left to spend on film and prints has been a hard way, but it taught me to (re)consider the picture first. Shooting every day only works if one is willing to spend an appropriate amount of time on reviewing ones own work. Else, one’s only practising to press the trigger but not making good photographs. Additionally, I would recommend to study the work of other togs, especially the ones you admire. Trying to understand why a certain photograph generates a certain impression is, in my eyes, one of the working ways to improve your own capability.
    Apart from that, let them be Gurus and keep on shooting outstanding photographs! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment. I too grew up in the days of film. If we were still in those days, I would suggest printing everything or at least a contact sheet. One needs to know where one is coming from. The best way is to be able to see everything that one does. But then, yes, it would cost a fortune! So, as I said, even the idea of shooting everyday should be in the back of one’s mind. Always be in that mindset. Always looking. Seeing. Making “bad” images is a way of recognizing what’s good, but what’s good for you!

      Thanks again 52kr for your comment. I always appreciate feedback! All the best in the new year!

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