It's crazy how something you can't even see can wreck such a havoc to the world, right? I'm looking at you, Mr COVID19. Anyway, whether it's a virus, illness or whatever other reasons there are times where you will be a street photographer stuck at home. What do you do when you can't go out and still want to keep being a street photographer? Here's 10 things you can do to keep your creative juices flowing and sharp.
1. Clean up your catalog
What happens to your place if you don't clean it regularly? It gets dirty, right? And it's not even that you are a dirty person or anything…It's just that little things accumulate and given enough time, your house looks like a hoarder's house. Not judging anyone. I have two kids and that is putting it mildly.
Something similar happens with your catalog. Every time you look at it and tell yourself “I should organize this”, “I should delete this” and so on and so forth, you end up with a large catalog that ends up unorganized. There's a bunch of things you can do to tidy up your images so that you can be ready to go when things clear up:
- Delete images that are ruined (Like when your camera was on in the bag)
- Organize your collections (By location or time)
- Add a star or flag your best images ever
- Organize your projects, etc
2. Post Process your images
If you are a street photographer, tell you what, you probably have a pile of images that have not been touched. If you are stuck at home, this can be great time to process your catalog. Go trough the images you've shot and never processed and process them.
As street photographers we have a tendency to pile on our images. We shoot, knowing we got a spanking image, and we download it and it stays there. Few are those who see things to completion right away. If you want to process your images, consider these street photography specific presets.
3. Finally send “those” images
Oh don't you deny it. You've shot many images that you said you would send. But you never did. Probably pictures of kids, family and more. No excuses now, process them and send them to whomever you said you would. I mean…it's only been a year, right?
In my experience, instead of being mad for never sending in the images, people are actually glad to receive “time-capsule” type images that throws them back a year from when you send them.
4. Revisit your catalog
Guess what? You've come a long way, baby! Well, Probably. What I mean is, you are probably a much more mature photographer than you were a year or two ago, and that means you see things differently. One of the best things to do if you are stuck at home street photographer is to revisit your work from years ago.
You'd be surprised at what you find. You'll find some REALLY good images (that you didn't know were good because you didn't know better) and you will find some diamonds-in-the-rough images ready to be polished. Because not only do you have fresher eyes, you also have new skills under your belt, and you can post-process in a way you didn't know before.
Go ahead and hunt for those images, and give them new life
5. Learn more street photography
What if you don't want to touch your catalog or edit your images? You can spend your stuck-at-home time reading street photography books and magazines. This allows you to stay fresh even without shooting. There's been periods where I just could not shoot for months, I never rusted because all I ever did was be exposed to the images in Inspired Eye street photography magazine.
If you want something more substantial to pass the time, check out this street photography course.
6. Start a project
Yes you've read that right. Start a project staying at home. There are way more subjects to shoot than you think (but that you've never paid attention to) and those can have a lot of emotional impact. You can turn your camera towards your family and follow them around the house, document what's going on in your community or simply shoot what you find around the house.
If you are stuck because of the coronavirus, we have a community project you can participate here.
7. Make a Retroactive project
This activity is tied to looking back at your catalog. If you have been a photographer for a while, chances are you have enough images to make 1 or 2 projects. You've been shooting unconsciously for a long time, and while revisiting your catalog with fresh eyes, you can start seeing some patterns emerging organically. What are the common themes or similar subjects do you have in your catalog? Go find out, process and you'll probably end up with a group of images that are enough for a project…no new shots required!
8. Publish your work
If you are stuck-at-home for a while, you can use this time to publish your work. No, I don't mean hitting publish on Facebook, but taking that time to actually do something more substantial with your images. Whether that means preparing a series for printing or finally getting around to working on that book you've been wanting to put together.
If you want to actually print your work, some services can do that completely online and deliver to you, so you don't need to do anything besides leaving the house. Even if you would never actually publish them, the act of trying to put it all together is enough to get a lot of creativity and focus going without setting foot out.
9. Listen to great books about street photographers
If there is a format I absolutely LOVE, it's audiobooks. They allow you to get all the juice of the book and have free hands to do the dishes or do whatever. While something like photobooks are not available in audio format (because…it's mostly images!) there is a surprising amount of audiobooks about street photographers. Here's a few recommended “reads”.
- Slightly out of focus (Robert Capa)
- Diane Arbus Biography
- Dorothea Lange a life without limits
- Flash: The making of Weegee the famous
I'm an avid audiobook listener, and let me tell you, some of the results when you search for “photography” are quite iffy. Who knew photographers elicited so much sex appeal?
10. Watch free documentaries
There's a surprising amount of free documentaries you can watch mostly on Youtube for free. I love documentaries because they are good way to pass the time AND still get something substantial out of them, unlike TV. Not judging here either, I watch cartoons! Anyway, I've made a compilation of free street photography documentaries you can watch.
Here you go, just because you are confined to staying put doesn't mean you can't be creative! Which ones will you go for? Revisiting your catalog? Double down on learning?