Finding meaning in Street Photography and Art

If I knew how each street shot would turn out — I wouldn’t take the shot.

When I look around myself, I always seem to catch a glimpse of something bright, a crack of light that needs my attention.

Two People in Street Photography by Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2023

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You see something happening and you just know that it means something deeper than at first appears. I think it’s that everything around us reflects a moving spiral of life. When we see it, we can never put our finger on it and hold it down, we have to get into the flow of it and discover it as we ride the rapids of life.

It boils down to the act of living. We must be in action to fully grasp how we fit in to what we were looking at. When I take photos on the street, or of my cats, a portrait, a still life, I’m putting myself inside the situation; that’s when things reveal themselves. Life becomes a flow of doing.

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Late at night, my cats and I sit in silence together. I watch them while they sleep. They watch me while I sit watching them.

Always one eye half open, an ear fully alert. If I move, they move.

Sometimes, I’ll notice how the soft light of the lamp creates a pattern across a sleeping cat. The cat’s body askew, legs and paws in different directions. I’ll quietly get my camera and take a shot.

The action of observing the cat, feeling motivated to take a photo, and feeling it deeply, is a meaningful moment of life. I know I don’t need an answer as to why I would do that. What else would I do?

When I walk along the streets with my camera, I want to see something that catches my attention. A moment of reality that is meaningful.

The moment I stop and believe that I can stand back and think about it, I separate myself, and my thoughts will become distracted by my stopping and thinking, my introversion — I’ll understand nothing about the momentary frames of life.

It could be the way two people meet on the street, or an abandoned building. A classic car with neat paint job, a person dressed in 1920s style.

I record things I see. It helps me to make sense of the frames of my life.

It’s as if we live in times where the spooling reel of time got caught up in the wheels. A man in a bowler hat and tweeds passes a woman wearing viscose sports clothes, a baseball cap. She has metal clips and tattoos on her body. He carries a newspaper under is arm. She stares into her mobile phone and fails to notice the vista of bygone days. I do, I’m on a passing bus and I get a glimpse into something strange.

I look around the street for a theatre door, or a street performance. It’s the only way I can explain these strange moments of aberration.

The frames of life bundle up together.

The joy of a successful day out taking street shots, or sitting at my desk and creating a short story, brings me joy that wipes out all the dark moments of life.

Street photography can be anything from the street. It doesn’t have to be people portraits, or invasive shots of people having private conversations.

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It can be the combination of architecture, people, groups, dogs on leashes, and cats on fences on a sunny day. It all depends on how the photographer sees the combination of objects and people.

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We make our own luck on the street, and I know that has to do with attitude; a mind that is looking outwards will see the strange combinations of occurrences that formulate then quickly dissipate and melt away into a new formation of ideas.

Crowds of people meld together then melt away, they evaporate and become a vacant space.

The shadows on the walls of great architecture are always on the move.

The morning sun is a different light than the evening sunset.

Everything is on the move. In order to see the shot, a street photographer must always be moving with it.