Why keep an open mind when shooting street photography

It was a fairly uneventful Sunday afternoon so I decided to head off into town and grab a coffee in Costa. My usual routine is to grab my IPad, notepad and camera and walk into town. Today is a warm sunny day so all is well in the world. I keep my camera in my hand as I walk because you never know what’s about to happen in the next few seconds so its always good to be prepared.
I do not have any preconceived idea as to what i want to photograph but always keep an open mind and follow my gut instinct as to what I will be shooting. If the scene unfolding in front of me looks like it has visual potential then i usually feel it emotionally and get some sort of excitement going on.

I decide to cut over the hill down towards the train station in Chatham. I pass a girl who has pulled into the lay-by and I glance in to her car and she is on the smartphone texting a message. I think to myself are we all so traumatised by this mechanical device that we simply cannot live without it. As if in some way we will suffer from some sort of disconnect from civilisation if we dare not to use the bloody things. I start to sing Elvis Presley ‘Caught in a trap’. Funny, how apt is that!


I’m at the top of the hill and the light from the sun is casting deep shadows under the trees. I look out across the river Medway and delight in the view. It has to be photographed. I frame the river between the intense shadow on the ground and the over hanging branches of the tree. It’s ok, nothing special. Just getting warmed up.

I turn around and the guy is walking his dog. The dog has ran off leaving him alone in the space. I shoot him as he moves away from me. I am drawn by peoples body language as it can be so telling as to their thoughts and feelings. This guy is hunched a little, dragging his feet, its enough for for to press the shutter release button.


I move on towards town and walk under the rail bridge down the hill. There is some traffic around but nothing substantial. The white dog is hanging out the window passenger side. My camera is in my hand and I point it towards the car, focus and shoot without looking. I have been doing this a long time and I know some things just need to be grabbed in an instance because life is unrelenting in its ebb and flow. Life certainly doesn’t stand still for a street photographer to get a perfect composition. I have missed too many great photo opportunities over the years because I was too slow off the mark and the photo was gone. It only exists in my mind as to what may have been and eats into my memory.


I move into the high street looking forward to grabbing a coffee. The guy is on the ground hunched over his dog which is laid flat out in front of him on its side. The guy is head bowed and I grab the shot without looking. No one notices. It’s one shot and I am gone. It’s the most powerful shot today and speaks about the current plight of so many people in the west. Not sure what is going on but it seems as if a lot of people have given up. This picture tells a powerful story and is very relevant.


I set off today with an open mind as to what I was going to photograph and the subject matter seemed to pick itself which was pretty much humans and their dogs.

Don’t be afraid to go slowly. Be afraid of stopping. Zen Quote

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