The streets might not hold much interest to the average human eye, but it takes a particular eye to see that the streets are what make up the very DNA of humanity.
Street Photography Guide
“[The street to me] is the big stage,” Italian Writer, Editor and Photographer, Alex Coghe writes in his street photography book, The Street Photography Guide, “where the man puts in place all the roles of life: the disenchantment, gracefulness, the misery, and then again, commiseration, the debauchery, the happiness… sadness and anger, protests and revolutions…It is not a coincidence that the great social and political revolutions have taken place in the street. Because the street is the people,” Coghe adds.
As a photographer, there’s something about taking my camera with me on a walk around the downtown of my city, in hopes of capturing genuine and authentic human interaction, that enchants me. Unconsciously, I seem to be drawn to photograph subjects that resonate or emanate something I feel within myself, whether it’s joy, excitement, hope, sadness, anger, fear, or doubt.
“I argue that Street Photography is essentially a self-portrait,” Coghe says. One of the fascinating things about Street Photography is that it allows viewers a glimpse of the photographer’s experience.
One of the themes Coghe explores in his street photography book is the importance of the photographer in the bigger picture. (No pun intended.) “Street photography is always about the experience of the photographer in the streets… it is a personalistic documentation of the photographers and their discoveries in public places,” Coghe says.
So what does it take to be a successful street photographer? Here are three key takeaways I got from reading the book that I’ve applied not only as a street photographer but as a photographer in general:
1. The story is important. To take mere photographs on the streets is not the goal of street photography. A good photograph is able to tell a story without words and it is the photographer’s goal to do just that.
2. Learn the rules, then break the rules. As the saying goes, rules are meant to be broken. Learning the fundamental rules of exposure, composition, and technique is important, but sometimes limiting. “The rules kill creativity,” Coghe says. Learn to go beyond the rules and the results just might surprise you.
3. Cameras are only tools. It is sometimes easy to become jaded in the world of camera gear. New and improved cameras and lenses are constantly being released, making it almost impossible to decide on the “best” one. However, as Coghe puts it, “A real photographer is able to make good photography with any device.”
A Man of the Street
As his book suggests, Coghe has always been a man of the street. “Street Photography is a great opportunity to live the streets as I did when I was a child kicking ball… all day in the street, until evening,” Coghe says.
Coghe’s work spans from editorial, fashion, and erotic photography, to social documentary and photojournalism. He is currently based in Mexico and is focusing on documenting the human conditions within the barrios and popular neighborhoods in Mexico City.
Your Go-To Street Photography Book
Coghe’s The Street Photography Guide touches on not only the technical aspects of street photography such as techniques, cameras, and composition but on the more abstract aspects, as well, such as the instinct of the street photographer and how to get closer to your subjects.
If you are interested in getting into street photography or are looking for new ways to expand your knowledge and perception of the craft, this street photography guide is worth checking out. It is a quick, light read that not only provides sufficient insight but does so in a way that showcases Coghe’s eclectic and eager personality. Find this free street photography book and download it to your computer.