The importance of knowing what you like

In Street Lessons, The Creative Process by Chris FoleyLeave a Comment

This is the tip of an iceberg of a topic that I'm working on right now, and you'll get it in fuller form later on. As we roll out regular assignments, critique sessions, and another opportunity that I'm thinking of that involves portfolio review, I'll be offering up these sorts of conversations which I hope you'll find interesting.

It's very important as photographers - particularly as street photographers - to know exactly what kinds of images appeal to us, what sorts of images we wish to make and pursue in our own work. (and this is a big part of why I do the Masters of Street Photography thing every week)

I've spent years figuring that out for myself and I now have a very clear idea of what I like and why, and I know what I want to shoot, and why. This is incredibly helpful when I get out into the world. If you don't know what you're looking for, you can find yourself easily overwhelmed by too many subject matter possibilities, or you can find yourself taking "meh" photos of any old thing because you're not looking for specific motifs.

Case in point. I have realized that in addition to the closer, more raw street work that I like to do, I also LOVE these images that put a diminutive human subject into a larger context, either architectural or otherwise environmental.

In essence, I LOVE a wider frame that includes more space in which my imagination can play. I prefer a wider story, and this approach (take heart!) is particularly promising for anybody who might be reluctant, or downright frightened, to get close to people on the streets. These are the images I prefer to print and hang. (the "wallhangers" I am sometimes criticized for taking as though they are less important and/or meaningful)

Here are a few examples of what I'm referring to and note that any of these images could have been created by someone who is uncomfortable photographing people up close on the streets.

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