Street photography of a dog eating chips om London's South Bank.

Just One of Those Dog Days

Street Work

Some days, as a street photographer, it just doesn’t happen.  You might not be in the mood or are struggling to get into the zone.  There’s nothing happening in front of the camera or not much capturing your eye.  It’s just a crap day and you come home with not much or nothing at all.

Shooting less and less.

The longer you shoot street photography the more frequent these kind of dog days seem to occur – or so I find.  Maybe it’s because the longer you shoot the less appears that you haven’t shot before?  When you’re new to the tradition of street photography everything seems fresh and exciting and you happily blast away.  I certainly shoot a lot less nowadays and a lot less appeals to me on the street.  So, cue more street photography dog days.

The past Sunday was one such day.  I’ve not had a chance to get out shooting street much at all lately, so I’d planned that Sunday I would get out and shoot some.  I headed into town, but even before I got there I just wasn’t feeling it.  I felt tired and achy.  As a result, rather than push myself I fell into a kind of comfort zone, the same old street beat of familiar locations; a case of the tired old faces in the same old places.  I felt staid, both physically and mentally.

Getting over it.

I tried to break it up, vary it some, by switching from digital to shooting some film on my Olympus XA4.  I’m yet to have that roll of film developed, but my instinct tells me there won’t be much on it.  So I called it quits and headed home early.  Deflated and dispirited, telling myself I’m a rubbish street photographer.  Or that street photography is boring.  I’m sure all street photographers feel like that on occasion?

But as always, we’ll pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves down and head out again soon.  For me, I’ll flick through some books by Garry Winogrand or Jeff Mermelstein and I’ll feel inspired all over again.  Next time though, I might just head out somewhere different to freshen things up.

The day in 5 frames.

Here are a few of the average digital frames I did shoot on the day.  I think it’s important, certainly as a more experienced street photographer, to show that what you shoot isn’t always great or worthy of being in a portfolio.  But it’s these shots that keep you ticking over and, so to speak, keep your creativity engine well oiled.  (Once I get the film developed I’ll post here at a later date.)

Street photography of tourists sitting on benches, with the cityscape of London behind them.

A split second too late – all three couples standing were all taking selfies at the same time, but I just couldn’t get close enough, quick enough. Still, I like the gull flying across and that view towards the City of London is one of my favourites. But, still, not much really going on and not a shot I see being posted to my website or elsewhere. Shame, as it did have potential. Bankside, London (2019)

Street photography of discarded socks on the pavement in London.

So, yes, I’ve always been drawn to randomly discarded bits of clothing – or more the story and questions they throw up.  I did shoot this with a particular series in mind, so it may work better as part of that series, but most probably not as a standalone shot.  The Strand, London (2019)

Street photography of police horses on the Strand in London.

The main difficulty here was getting a shot without traffic or others walking through the scene.  The only one I managed that with was literally the first shot I took, but the horses are not quite into the scene enough for me…a few more paces so they were centred between the wooden scaffolding covers would have been better, but at that point a car drove into the scene and blocked the view of them entirely.  Shame.  The Strand, London (2019)

Street photography of a dog eating chips om London's South Bank.

I got a little lucky with this one, the street Gods were smiling for a fraction of second. I was just shooting the discarded chips when the dog walked into the frame. The downside is I didn’t have a fast enough shutter speed set to get the moving dog sharp. Those are the breaks with street photography! Bankside, London (2019)

Street photography of old lady set against an advert in London.

Somewhat of a cliche I know, people shot against a billboard. I guess she was a timeless character, she could have been walking straight out of the 1970’s. I liked how she contrasted with the modern fashion model in the window advertising, both stylish in their own way. Not the most original photo I’ve ever shot, but there’s something there. The Strand, London (2019)

Over to you.

So how do you deal with those days when your street photography just doesn’t seem to be clicking?  I’d love to hear in the comments below.

You can check out more of my street photography on my website.

One thought on “Just One of Those Dog Days

  1. A lot of time the pictures I think are duds, turn out to be something others find interest in, and other times when I go back to them years later they seem to be better than the day I made them. Nice article Darren.


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