Whether you are new to street photography or an established shooter, it is always exciting to get lessons and hear experiences from someone who is at the top of the game.
Street photographer Craig Whitehead (@sixstreetunder on Instagram) recently released his first book Find Your Frame: A Street Photography Masterclass. Drawing on his own experiences, Whitehead provides great insights and tips that will benefit budding street photographers and established ones alike. The phenomenal insights and accompanying photography make this one of my favorite street photography books of the year.
• For a guide to the best Street Photography cameras
The book contains lessons on various aspects of street photography such as equipment and settings, composition, and how to get past the awkwardness of shooting in public. Whitehead provides photographic examples of how he approaches different situations which gives great context to the words written.
I particularly found value in the 'Get Out There' section of the book. In this chapter, Whitehead talks about the benefit of just getting out and shooting. I, like many of you reading, am guilty of overthinking or over-planning, to a point where it almost becomes a procrastination technique. This chapter gives tips on how to get out and shoot, for example, "The more time you spend out on the streets, the more you'll learn your craft and the more likely you are to get a good shot worth keeping".
I was fortunate to have a discussion with Craig Whitehead where we discussed his book, as well as the state of current street photography. Here are a few highlights:
Is there an image that you worked particularly hard to get? And if so, how?
"I've waited for close to an hour for a couple of different shots in the past but I don’t think any shot was that difficult individually. There are certainly some incredibly lucky ones but I often move on if I feel like the effort for a shot isn’t worth it for the end result and just come back to the idea or the location 6 months later or a year later if thats what it takes for the right light. I did wait an entire year just to photograph one wall in Coney Island but that was more to make up for having missed the chance before".
What is your opinion on the current state of street photography?
"I think photography is in a very interesting place right now. AI is disrupting so many art forms and as phones and dedicated cameras keep crossing over it makes creating great art easier than it has ever been. Post-pandemic I also think a lot more people are aware of their proximity to people in a way they weren’t before so it has made street photography a little harder. The way technology is evolving may ultimately mean fewer people do street photography as they can create the art they truly want so much easier so we may see fewer people doing it, only time will tell".
Having the chance to speak with one of today's great street photographers, I took the opportunity to selfishly ask a question for myself, but one I think many people will find value in. I currently live rurally and although I personally can make it to the common street photography locale of a busy city, many others around me can't. Did this mean that they couldn't do street photography?
What advice would you give to people who want to photograph 'street photography' but don't live in or have the means to get to a city?
"Street photography is at its core the practice of really paying attention to moments. What’s significant around you isn’t always going to be a busy street, if you live somewhere more rural just think about what makes that place what it is, the good and the bad. What things can you document that not everyone else would see in their everyday lives? As normal as it is for me to see university porters in bowler hats, I’m always aware that it’s not the norm, and keep an eye on the light around the university entrances here for the perfect shot I will get one day".
Fantastic insights from a fantastic photographer, and with the release of this book, photography teacher. If you are interested in getting started in street photography or, want to freshen up your existing street photography practice, Find Your Frame: A Street Photography Masterclass is a must. Many books and courses throw the word masterclass on things to make them more alluring or grandiose, this in my opinion earns the moniker.
Find Your Frame: A Street Photography Masterclass by Craig Whitehead is published by Frances Lincoln (Quarto Publishing Group) and is available now for $15 / £15. Check out more work by Craig Whitehead on his website.
For information on street photography, check out our articles on Saul Leiter: Unseen work from pioneer of street photography released in new book, Asking for a photo and posing is NOT street photography, and How to get started in street photography.