You Don’t Pick The Subject, The Subject Picks You


Nowadays, there are contests, walks, workshops, websites, ebooks, gurus…… ad nauseam, who claim that they can teach you “street photography”. They claim to teach you to overcome your fear of people, show you the best camera, the best places, the best time of day…….etc.. Sure, they must be fun. I know some of these people and they are quite nice. They found out how to make a living within what they like to do. But, they are not experts. They are experts, maybe, in what they do. But not what you do.

When I began my interest in photography, I came from other disciplines. I wanted to be a painter and a printmaker. I did sculpture, life drawing, ceramics, etc.. Photography took a hold when I was in my last year of high school. When I entered college, hanging out with other students, and fledgling photographers, it was a different time. There was just film and the darkroom. If you wanted to do something, and you felt it, you just did it. There were no workshops. There was no one really who was going to show you what to do out on the street or in the studio. You were taught the technical aspects of photography, but as far as what to do, it was up to you. Anyone who was involved in what it was then called, social documentary, had their own style, their own way of working. There were no rules. There wasn’t a specific film. There weren’t specific cameras. If something was of interest to you, you bought a magazine, books, you sought out photographers whose work inspired you,  and looked at those images over and over and over. You photographed all the time

I guess what I am getting to is this – Some people do not have a choice in what they do. They feel it, need it, and go and do it. If it is in your heart, do it. You can’t make yourself into something that you are not. Be who you are. The subject that is within you, will find you. Be open to it. Leave the labels for someone else.

About Keith Goldstein

Lives and works in New York City.
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11 Responses to You Don’t Pick The Subject, The Subject Picks You

  1. loisajay says:

    Amen to this, Keith! ‘If it is in your heart, do it!’ “The subject that is within you will find you.’ Everything that you said–so true and not just for photography–but for life. This is why I love your photos.

  2. Pavel P. says:

    very nicely written….

  3. Pavel P. says:

    Eric Kim came to my mind when I was reading about “street shooting teachers” 🙂

  4. Chris Lavaud says:

    I agree with you two is a need and done with the heart, btw this feels in the pictures produced, imposible to lie or to pretend! but some manage to pretend, not me and Keith neither, continues to produce with your Keith.

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