I’m a journalist with a camera. Or a storyteller with a camera. I’ve come to realize photojournalism defines me. My photography. My approach to seeing the world.
I was listening to a podcast with a street photographer and she said she documents what makes her think of her childhood. Another photographer said they are drawn to light and shadow. Not me–I’m a story guy. I want to capture the story of people wherever I find them.
I am the founder of the RoyStryker.com documentary photo project, and it’s all about capturing human stories in the U.S. Because that’s who we are and that’ s what I see and seek out.
Interesting light is nice, but without a story leaves me feeling nothing. Creamy bokeh and amazing technique are both worthless to me without content. Because story is what I need, what I think most of us seek in a photograph.
Other street photographers look to juxtapose interesting elements–an advertisement and a person, a color pattern, or something that makes for a geometric image. They’ll wait until the elements line up perfectly to get their shot. Those are fun to look at, but I need story, too. Otherwise, those are just people plucked and placed into the composition, but they may have no connection to it other than the photographer’s sense of humor.
I can’t stay put that long, a story may be around the next corner.
I’m teaching a street photography workshop this week, and the only thing I can possibly teach is to see people and look for stories. Because that’s all I see, so it’s all I can help others see. Like a photojournalist, find the story and document it with images. Tell the story.
Story. It’s who we are. It’s what we were. It’s even in the word HiSTORY.
There’s no telling where it will appear next. We just have to go out and look for it. Wear comfortable shoes!