By All Means, Start Collecting
Here is the problem with street photography: Once you have taken a picture, what do you do with it? Even if it is your best work, a single picture of a stranger looks a little odd hanging in your house. That is not the case with a beautiful picture of a bird or a sunset or a landscape or even an abstract. I think the answer is to present groups of street pictures that are connected to each other with a theme. People can better appreciate images in a coherent collection. Here is the journey that led me to that conclusion.
For a long time, I just took the pictures for myself. Even my family did not see them. I was the real stealth street photographer. Not only did people not know I was taking their picture, people did not know I was taking any pictures. Finally, my children staged an intervention and encouraged me to start posting on Instagram. I think Instagram is a good first step as long as you understand that it is not particularly about merit. Oh yes, and as long as you are willing to spend a lot of time building a following by being a good follower. I did that for a couple of years. I have a community of friends whose photographs and artwork and snapshots will always enrich my life. I got used to the vagaries of people liking my work or not liking my work.
There came a point in time when I was ready to move on from just posting my pictures. I want to enter and get recognized in photo contests. I want to hang my pictures in my home and in public places. Most of all, I want to write a meaningful Blog . It feels really challenging. I try to remember how hard it was to get just 10 likes on an Instagram post. It happened over time. Can I come up with strategies to push my current goals forward?
I started this new chapter by entering the annual Lensculture Street Photography contest. One entry is free. You should absolutely go for it. With five entries you pay $50, but you get feedback. What I have come to understand through the feedback is that you have a better chance having your photographs viewed favorably if there is a coherent theme to your group, at a minimum, the submitted images should be all b&w or all color. Shortly after that a family member asked me for some of my photographs of elderly people from all around the world to hang in the foyer of her elder care law office. It was then that I really understood the power of a themed collection. Wow! Finally, my pictures were hung in a public setting and, honestly, the grouping looked great.
This is why I suggest that you should, by all means, start collecting! You can see selected photos from some of my collections in the Gallery of this website: A Woman’s Life, The Communications Between Us, Signs of Life, and a new Gallery, Universal Expressions. (You can get to the gallery collections by clicking on the menu icon that has three parallel lines located at the top right of every page. Once you are on the Gallery page, you can open the collection by clicking anywhere on the photograph that represents it.) The complete collections reside in albums in either or both in Albums on my IPad and in Lightroom on my desktop. Collections are easier to manage than keywords, which can also be used to accumulate pictures that you want to group, because in collections you just drag and drop them into the albums, no typing necessary. They save me a lot of time.
I now regularly post to the closed Facebook group, Urban Street Photographers. I post out of a collection until I have posted everything that I like in that collection. When a picture gets a poor reception from the Group, I take it out of the collection. I also regularly add to my collections. I am really looking for the best images, both for myself and for my viewers. Over time it is my goal to improve the quality. When I decide to create a new collection, like I did today with a collection I call Walking the Walk, I can easily get through the approximately 2000 pictures I have on my iPad, select the ones that meet the collection criteria, add them to the new album and then genuinely enjoy the curated collection.
Look through a group of your pictures. Do you have any themes? Set up an Album on an iPad or a Collection in Lightroom to gather them together. If you post out of a collection either in Facebook or Instagram, please add the hashtag #dbwstreet so that I will see it.