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  • Writer's pictureAustin Harter

Street Photography & Why I Love It

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

man on bike carrying a case of coke riding in the city
cool biker | Leica M11 Voigtlander 1:1.5/75

There is something deeply romantic about grabbing a camera and walking around the surrounding communities. Our homes become the canvases on which we capture our worldview. The streets are chock full of elements to build and compose our frames. There are limitless opportunities - it is life, after all. Everything can change in an instant, though. That's the draw; that's the pull. It's live theater, and you are the director.

I am a voyeur by nature. I enjoy people-watching and building stories about their lives, desires, fears, and what brought them to this moment. In high school, my friends and I would walk around the historic downtown area of my hometown for hours talking. Taking in the scenes around us, I imagined the movies playing out in my mind - I could see it all framed up. Later in life, I would continue these walks alone, watching and eventually with a camera. Visual discussions replaced the old familiar conversations as I explored the genre further. In time it became habit, although somewhat mindless at times.

side mirror of car reflects man running on sidewalk
side view runner | Leica M11 1:2/35

The everyday familiar places around us are constantly changing. Taking a moment to stop and watch reveals shifting light, contrasting shapes, diverse textures, and limitless subjects. Honestly, it's overwhelming, and most of the time, I'm hoping just to be "whelmed." I figure there's a better chance of more keeper photos. I could be wrong. I'm still testing this theory.

tacos | Leica M11 1:2/35

I love this type of photography because it ignites a visceral need to explore. Long before I knew who William Eggleston was, I was attracted to his work and style of photography. He always found the right moment to freeze. The colors were saturated, and the composition felt cinematic. Looking at an Eggleston photo, you know it wasn't orchestrated. It happened. He was there to capture it and was open to capturing it. Therefore, he captured it.

There is an element of this type of work that is similar to meditating. Hunting for the frame, calculating settings quickly, and making creative decisions require the photographer to be present. We are capturing moments in time. Whether real or imagined, they were captured. We participated in the moment by recording it and offering perspectives. That's life. Perhaps the better I get at my street work, the better I become at being present more often.

knitted cupcakes on display in bakery window
cupcakes | Leica M11 1:2.8/50

Whatever your tastes are or whatever gets your creative juices going, don't stop exploring and experimenting. You never know what you'll discover.

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