“Really. It’s ok.”

Yesterday I saw a well known “street guru” near the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. I was on my lunchtime walk and slowed to take a photograph. I kind of felt someone was watching me. I turned and saw him and I guess someone he was mentoring. They turned quickly away and I heard him say something, not derogatory, but something about shooting styles on the street. I recognized him from a picture I saw of him and of course a Leica in his hand. His “student” had some kind of small digital thing. I was going to stop and talk, but decided to keep walking. It got me thinking. Can, and I hate the phrase, “street photography”, be taught? Mentored? The best photographers I know and respect, just did it. If you just can’t do it on your own, if you can’t feel it, if it doesn’t pull you in its direction, then it’s not for you. Do something else. And that’s ok. Really. It’s ok.

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Published by Keith Goldstein

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

10 thoughts on ““Really. It’s ok.”

  1. Thought proving pieces Keith. I think the rudiments can be taught. Then, if they are lucky, the novice discovers they have an ‘eye’ for it and off they go. Or, like the rest of us they just keep going and hopefully improve along the way. But I have noticed the more I work at it the ‘luckier’ I get.

    As for the phrase “Street Photography” – I’m ambivalent about it. What I dislike, however, is the short form ‘Tog’. I don’t know why but it just irks me. Somehow it’s ‘photoclub – childish’. Wouldn’t do for us to be all the same though would it 🙂

    Cheers from a very cold and blowy east coast of England. ( I have the heating on in the house) And it’s supposed to be summer!

    1. Thanks Peter. I agree, rudiments can be taught. I thought it was quite humorous in a way to be out on the “street” and have someone, a “teacher”, shooting with you at your shoulder telling you what you should be or should not be doing. I don’t consider being on the “street” the same as being in the studio doing a setup, a still-life with lights, props, backgrounds, etc.. Being out there, at least for me, is personal. That can’t be taught. It would be hard pressed today to see someone like Robert Frank, Garry Winograd, walking about with a bunch of “students” showing them the ropes so to speak. Little clones. What’s out there is in inside you. One must find their own way, their connection.

      Yes, “tog”, errrrrr. There is a “street guru” who uses it incessantly.

      There is a chance we might be taking a holiday in Ireland late August. I’ll send some warmth your way!!

  2. I feel the same. Street or Urban photography pulled me in. It speaks to me and I answer.
    As a novice I know there is still much more for me to learn so when I retire in two years I will begin taking classes to perfect my craft. In the meantime I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.

    1. As you should DeBorah! I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it as well. Photography, as craft can be taught. What can’t be taught is what YOU put into it. Who you are. Many of the great photographers had teachers who taught them craft. Mentors who spoke to them afterwards about their imagery, critiquing. To me, that is the best use of a mentor. Someone with whom you can speak “photography” with. The hardest thing is to do “YOU”!

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