Thinking about Street Photography as a Business?

Street photography as a career isn’t the best option. Mainly because street photography is a very personal thing.

Personal ideas are the stuff of good business.

On the other hand, any type of photography as a career move, seems to be tough to get into to.

Self-portrait on the Berlin Ubahn. Copyright Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2020. street Photography series.

There are various opinions about why photography is difficult to set up as a career choice.

One of them is that cameras and the photography business has changed, dramatically, over the last 15 years or so.

The digital camera has evolved from a fairly crappy piece of equipment that in 2000 could digitalize an image, and show the results on a small screen. The pixelation were rough and garish mixtures of colours back then. I still preferred to use my film camera right through the 2000s until the 2010s.

One day, everybody realised that digital cameras had evolved into something great – so, lots and lots of non-photographers invested in camera equipment and opened wedding photography business. Now we have so many “professional” photographers in the world, it’s astonishing. But, the market and prices get hacked and fall with overcrowding.

You may be able to develop a style and subject on the street that works well as photos to sell online, or offline. But in the end, you are still trying to sell your artistic work, which is tough thing to do.

If you are determined to sell your work, and find out if you can make a living with it, then study a few of the artists and photographers who have achieved this. There are many.

Many photographers wear many different hats, all photography related, but juggle their hats day to day, street photography for fun and creativity, portraits and headshots for business, commercial food photography, and even retouching other people photos for income works for many.

It’s a very individual life, and photography, being a creative activity, tends to develop the artist in us.

Street photography is as valid a form of photography and image making as is landscape and portrait photography.

Both forms of work look for the aesthetic value in a framed image. The objective is to end up with a finished photo that could be sold and framed, then hung on a wall for the viewer’s pleasure.

Not all images that people find pleasurable to look at are “beautiful”, some of them are shocking, some are interesting concepts, and the best ones are somehow highly intriguing in that they pique the viewer’s interest about something rarely seen.

Both forms of photography rely on the photographer’s ability to see a moment in life that can be framed, composed, and with the skilled use of light and shadow, turned out as a moment of life worth keeping in the confines of a frame.

The frame is important. It separates an image from the rest of the world. It unconsciously draws a viewer into the photographer’s world.

When you consider portrait photography, you are creating an image that appeals firstly, to the person who commissioned the work. The finished result will really be of value to the sitter and the person who pays for your work. Once it’s framed and hung on a wall, it increases in aesthetic value and other people can enjoy the image for its obvious qualities.

When you take a street shot, and you know that you were in the right place, at the right moment, you have taken a unique photograph that wasn’t motivated by your need to impress other street photographers, but rather to create a piece of work that could be viewed as art.

There is a wide audience for amazing works of art.

Photographers, especially street photographers, need to admit that they are practising an art. It’s not a commercial shot. Nothing follows a plan. The idea of a brief from a client isn’t part of street photography. The responsibility for creativity and finished result is entirely on the shoulders of the photographer. Do your own thing, and shoot what interests you.

Street photography has an enormous audience. People don’t know the difference between a journalistic street shot and a shot taken by a dedicated street photographer – they only see a good or a bad photograph that floats their boat when they see it.

Landscape and Street Photography both express strong messages about our environment. They mean something to everybody.

It’s tough for photographers to sell landscape prints, it’s about as tough to sell street photography shots, too. But there is a market.

If you as street photography take up the responsibility to become a very good photographer, and specialize in street photography, you might discover that people take notice of your work.

It’s mostly about how well you market yourself on the web, and off the web. Don’t underestimate how hard the work is to get noticed. That’s just the reality of the world we live in today.

My take on the situation is that there are many people, photographers, businesses, vying for space across the internet. They shout loudly and hope people will look, and then buy their product. It’s the job of a creative person, like a street photographer, to figure out how to offer something irresistible to all the people who want something that offers a higher quality in life; photography does offer this value.

Instead of making do with emulating other good street photographers who jagger their shadows, and create strong contrasts with triangles across sun bleached surfaces, go for something between the cracks of thought. Look for something that nobody on the street is doing.

Find your own colours, or black and white tones, and learn to look deeply into what’s happening on the street in a way that matches your individual way of seeing the world.

It’s important that a photographer, street photographer or portrait, landscape and food photographer get over their insecurities about equipment. The market preys on our feelings,m sending a message that we must upgrade if we want better shots, or buy this individual lens, or that accessory to improve our photography. If we work more on the content of a photo, and make it important, and, learn more about how to make the lens see what we do, then we’ll take better photos.

If you have a decent camera, or a good mobile camera with decent pixelation, then you can take street photos that contain highly interesting compositions and well framed shots that are worth sharing with other people. Photography fascinated the general public as it takes them away from the mundane world of fast moving objects. It gives them moments of pleasure to slow down, and consider how wonderful and beautiful the world can be.

Is Street Photography Good as Photography Business? I believe it could be, if the right photographer learned to market him or herself well.

Thinking about Street Photography as a Business? Break through negative ideas, and just believe in your vision, and market your street photography work.

More power to You.

More about Street Photography from Sean P. Durham