You probably have that photographer friend who constantly chimps on his camera and zooms on every shot he or she takes to see whether it’s sharp or not. Or that friend who buys the latest gear the moment it gets released because the previous camera he owns is now outdated, and oh, what about the bokeh peeps, who almost forgot his (or her)fantastic model in front of him cause he’s still drooling over the bokeh the lens just made. Yeah, you’ve seen that!
Here’s what I’ve got to tell you. Don’t worry about it! Why? Here’s why.
These are 5 things that street photographers worry about and I think otherwise.
Is it sharp?
I’m sure you’ve seen a person zooming in on a photo they just took to see how sharp it is. But honestly, If a person went up to a photograph I took whether it’s from my camera, laptop or a printed piece and started zooming on it, checking every edges and corners of the image, I’d be offended by that person. I mean big time offended. Why?
Because that person seems to be more interested in how sharp my photograph is than the content/ message/ or meaning behind it. It’s a photograph meant to be read and appreciated, then suddenly it’s going to be judged by its sharpness?
I’d like you to feel the same for your own photographs. Know that you took it because you saw something worth taking and not because your camera can record sharp images.
Even large prints don't need to be razor sharp. Most images that are printed on large scales are always meant to be viewed at a distance. A little softness is ok as long as you are able to convey the story of your photograph. Don’t worry too much about it and focus on creating a meaningful image. Remember, CONTENT IS KING!
But does it bokeh?
Bokeh is nice. Nothing wrong with it. I’ve probably shot a few photographs with an intention to showcase the bokeh but I was never a fan of it.
I’m sure there are street photographers out there who shoots with their lens wide open for reasons such as the lack of light or the bokeh actually plays a huge part in telling the story. E.g Bokeh balls.
But what I find disconcerting, and I’m sorry to point it out, are those who see bokeh more important than the subject. To the point, he or she will take whatever person passing by regardless of their emotions or motions as long as the bokeh balls are there. Those who think an F.95 lens is the better lens for street photography because of the sure bokeh it will create than its advantage in low light conditions. Again, I’m sorry but I am, like the kids say; is ‘SMH’.
Most of the lenses I own has apertures of F2 as their widest. The reason that I opt for these lenses, aside from the huge price difference, is that I usually shoot around f8 to f16. I only open up my aperture wide open when there is not enough light and that doesn’t happen often due to, I guess, my shooting style.
Again, nothing wrong with it. Just don’t let it take over you and hinder rather than help you.
It’s outdated and old
If you got money and you can’t beat the G.A.S. then buy the latest camera. But if you’re buying it for that little upgrades and you think it’s going to change your game? I’d rather invest that money in traveling or buying books. I think it's not practical upgrading to the latest gears when you just got the most recent one.
The reason I’m sharing this is that most of the technologies today are more of a business than actually making things easier. Every year small upgrades are introduced to you but marketed as if the one you already have is old and outdated, and it’s only been a year.
But I will not dismiss the fact that latest upgrades do help you take better pictures. Sure these increments are none the less are still increments. But I find it crazy to convince yourself that these upgrades make 90% of the image better. Don’t worry about upgrades, worry about the quality of photographs you make.
This is my rule when I plan an upgrade:
If I currently have, say, a Version 1, I will wait until Version 3 is released before I decide to upgrade. I will skip version 2 as the upgrades usually are not miles away. I think two versions apart could give you a noticeable increase in the camera’s overall performance.
Auto focus isn’t fast enough
It’s true when you’re a street photographer, the faster you can focus the better. The question is, how fast do you really need your camera to be? I’m sorry if I’m starting to push your buttons at this point, but people lose their mind with cameras advertising how fast their cameras can focus yet they don’t really utilize this advantage.
Do we really need it to focus on such blazing fast? What subject are we taking picture of? A race car?
I get it if you’re a sports photographer but as a street photographer? So don’t worry, I think what you have is more than enough. Just learn how to use it.
I’m a manual only guy
I’m not gonna lie. I used to shoot almost always in manual mode. I’d probably said the “I’m a manual only guy” along the way and I regret it now. I’ve shot mostly in manual before but not to brag that It makes me a better photographer than everybody else. I did it because it will make me a better photographer than I was. I’ve dived into the manual world of photography to learn the basics of photography itself. I learned how to guess the right exposure by how strong the available light is, I learned how to focus on my subject without looking through the viewfinder by measuring the distance of my subject with my eyes.
All these things I mentioned are all valid and A-Ok. I just hope that we all focus on what our main goals is, and that is to constantly improve ourselves. The things we worry about are actually the lesser things we should be focusing on. Getting your composition right, getting the right light, and learning the basics are just the few things you should be spending your time on. The quality of photos you take should get your viewers attention, not the quality your camera can take. Let’s put our energy into creating photographs that matters rather than buying gears that we think plays the bigger part in creating great images.
And lastly, Never think your camera is better than your skills.
Now, let’s street!