A significant part of street photography is chasing the shot. Photographers spend hours roaming the streets, hoping to find the perfect scene to create the perfect image. Because of the complexity and unpredictability of street photography, most people return home disappointed, unhappy they didn’t find what they were looking for. I’m here to explain why street photographers need to stop chasing the perfect shot.
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I’ve been making images on the streets for over 10 years now. For about eight of those years, I would allow the urge to make the perfect street photograph to consume me. If I got anything other than an amazing shot, I’d see my photo walk as a failure–I had an overwhelming number of failures. For the past couple of years, I have allowed myself to let go of that pressure, and I’ve seen several benefits to my workflow and experience.
It Makes Street Photography More Enjoyable
In anything we do in life, I believe that to do it well, we must enjoy the process. When we put an overwhelming amount of pressure on ourselves to do something to perfection, we begin to experience stress and anxiety. We become so focused on the end goal that it’s almost impossible to enjoy the process of going out and doing street photography. However, once we let go of chasing the perfect shot, we can work in a much more relaxed manner, allowing us to have more fulfillment from the photo walk and not only crave the perfect end product.
We Become More Consistent With Our Street Photography
I think there’s a common misconception about street photographers. People believe there’s either “the shot” or bad photographs, with nothing in between. Of course, that’s not true. We can create several strong, compelling images without any of them being award winners or fit for your digital trash. I’d argue shooting without the desire to get the perfect shots leads to more consistency in the quality of your work, making you a better street photographer over time.
Trying Too Hard Leads to Imitation in Street Photography
When our sole goal is to create the perfect frame in street photography, it opens the door to a lack of originality and imitation. When we look online and see other photographers gaining success from a certain type of photograph, when things don’t work out with our own creativity, we go out to search for what has already been seen. It’s desperation, and it hinders one’s ability to carve out their own photographic identity in street photography. Once we stop caring about the perfect shot, we can work freely and shoot what we want to shoot, rather than what we believe will make us popular.
You’re More Likely Going to Get The Perfect Shot
In my experience, in all sections of life, forcing something never leads to success. Trying too hard leads to error, complacency, and disappointment. However, when we free our minds of the pressure of reaching the pinnacle, we’re far more likely to reach the goals we want. While some street photographers may disagree, I believe it’s not about finding the perfect shot, but instead, allowing the perfect shot to find you. Some of the best shots I’ve made came when I wasn’t looking for them.
What is the perfect shot? Does it even exist? That’s a debate for another article, perhaps. However, there are levels to the game of street photography, and anyone who takes it seriously wants to reach the highest standard. The best street photographers didn’t get to where they are now by ensuring they got the perfect shot each time they went outside. They got there because of longevity, because they learned to enjoy the process, and because they found ways to make great street photographs without losing their mind.
If you’re new to street photography, trust me when I say that chasing the perfect shot will only lead to giving up on the craft. This art form can truly give you many things in life, things I’d say that are far more worthwhile than photographs. So let go of any pressure you’re drowning in, pick up your camera, and enjoy the ride.
What kind of pressure do you experience when on the streets? Do you believe chasing the perfect shot is a good thing? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.