Street Photography Should Not Be Televised

YouTube is ubiquitous, and you can learn damn near anything by watching a video there. Want to know how to replace the starter on a 2004 Honda Accord: YouTube. With that being said, some deeds are best left unseen. Some processes are so personally customized, yet at the same time so stunningly basic, that it is objectionable to watch the deconstruction of these processes onscreen. Some curtains should never be pulled back. Such is the case with street photography.

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There are a lot of photography gear reviews on Youtube. Many of them are useful and informative, and even the ones that aren’t particularly useful still have value from a “gear porn” perspective. I watch reviews frequently, even of gear I’d never use, on various channels I follow such as this one, and in general I don’t find fault with what the reviewer is saying, especially if the presenter is pretty, funny or knowledgable (or all three  like Cherry Wong). It would be hard for me to find fault with the bulk content of many reviews, even if I wanted to, because I’ve never shot test charts. I don’t do high ISO comparisons between camera brands or calibrate lenses. I hardly pay attention to vignetting or pin cushion distortion unless it is horribly pronounced in a photograph. I don’t use entire menu categories on my camera. They are just somethingannoying  I have to skip over while I navigate to the menu options I use frequently. Unless I’m gear prospecting or Leica lusting, I watch these review videos just to see whats new and popping out there, and to gauge how people feel about whats new and popping out there, even if I don’t care much about what they are discussing. In summary I suppose I’m saying it’s generally all good when I watch reviews on youtube.

One thing makes me cringe however. Sometimes it happens during the image quality portion of the review, but I want to slap reviewers when they say the following, more or less:

Now lets go and test out this (insert gear) shooting some street photography!

You just told us you was a wedding shooter. Why don’t you make a video testing the gear at a wedding? Is it because you look DOWN on street photography and feel like there is no penalty for you posting horrible street photographs on the internet? These same reviewers will say as an aside: “I shot with this camera at a wedding recently and found that the dynamic range was just not as good as my Sony” or whatever. Well where is the footage of that shit, of you shooting the camera in your genre of expertise? Why do you instead have footage of you walking around your hometown shooting gargoyle statues and elderly people and calling it street photography? Get the fuck out of here with that. I need to start pulling up on shooters and checking them, gangland style, but I digress….

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First of all the game is to be sold and not told, but thats another topic altogether. Secondly, there is that moment where we see video of the photographer taking a “street photo” and then hear the obligatory artificial shutter sound. Next they show the actual processed photo and it’s usually horrible or at the very best it’s average. Street photography cannot be forced for the purpose of some full frame DSLR or 35mm lens review. Street photography should not be what this is called. What you are doing, reviewers, is taking shots of people and things on the street. Call it test shots. Please don’t call that weak shit street photography. I’ve seen your work, many of you, and a good bit of you actually can shoot. A better approach, instead of the video-fake-shutter-crappy-photo approach, is when savvy photographers pause the review video and show a short montage of street photos they actually worked to get. They do not show random, forced, crappy shots used just because it syncs up well with the video footage, editing wise. The photo montage, no matter how good it is,  should not be segmented by those annoying fake shutter sounds though.

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These are my first-world microstruggles brothers and sisters. While the political left is popping Xanax at the idea of Trump for 4 years, I’m skipping past entire segments of a YouTube photo gear review because the reviewer said he was about to shoot some “street photography”. You don’t go out and “shoot some street photography” asshole. Street photography is a mindset. You’re either street or you’re not. Bresson was a goddamn war correspondent, for fucks sake. Bruce Gilden was a gangster. This isn’t a genre for pussies. Street photography is rooted in hostility and danger. It is looked down upon and thought to be simple by many photographers, most of them wedding and portrait shooters, but street photography is in fact the hardest genre to master. I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to charge you. Stay low and keep shooting. 

 

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