I read a post on a photo forum asking for advice….
“I’m off to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks and was wondering how good the place is for us street shooters. I’m hoping to get my fair share of street shooting done though I believe the red light district is a no-no for photography. Gonna take along my…blah…blah…blah. ”
Well, this guy quit before he started. He has his mind set that he can’t shoot in the Red Light District, so he has convinced himself he will fail before he even tries.
My advice is to work blind, without preconceived notions and prejudices.
Yes, photography is prohibited in the RLD. But the job of the skilled documentary photographer IS to bring home the goods in tough circumstances. The photog asking this question did not say he was a studio photog, a fashion photog, a portrait photog or even a landscape photog shooting a lake full of smoky water with the obligatory dock and sunset in the background. The photog in question claims to be a street photog. If that is the case, then the only thing holding him back is his own mind.
When I researched the RLD I was told the same thing that the forum photog above stated…no photos in the RLD. Now, what did I do with this information? I put my street and doc skills to the test and made an book on the RLD, a landmark artists’ book and in only 5 days of shooting. (Actually 4-1/2 days as I was rained out for half a day.)
Imagine if I had deep pockets and could have spent 2 or 3 weeks on the project what I could have accomplished? Some lucky photogs can spend a year or two on a project. But, dealing with time constraints is part of being a highly skilled doc photog…you produce with what time limits and budget you have to work with.
Within photography circles, prejudices and preconceived notions kill many a photo before the button is even pressed. Always let the photo op tell you yes or no…don’t let yours or anyone else’s prejudices ever stop you.
Prejudices can also harm your street and doc skills by making you stop to think too long. Some photogs on the forums have a long laundry list of pet likes and dislikes they have to run through their head before they press the button. By the time they are done reviewing their long, long list of do’s and don’ts… the photo is long gone.
Such photogs are better suited to be landscapers shooting pretty sunsets or burning steel wool photos. Or they can slap a sunglass filter on their cam and shoot a blurry cloud pix. For as street photogs their prejudices will stop them from producing anything worthwhile.
Always remember, when your doing street work you shoot first and think later. Plenty of time to delete photos when your home.
Further discussion of how prejudicial thinking can put a damper on one’s art…