Wanna See Some Bad Street Photographs?

I’ll post them and tell you why they’re not good. These photographs were all made during a five-day visit to New York City, October 31-November 4, 2022.

The Yellow Scene

“Look, he’s got a yellow bag and a yellow shirt and there’s a yellow vest to the right and a yellow slicker to the center.” And who cares? It’s not good enough. Nothing happening. Nowhere close to the Vivian Maier photo which does exactly this, but well.

Smoking and Chatting

Look, two people are talking in sunlight with a dark shadowy alley for a background.” Who cares? Nothing there. Can’t be saved by clever framing, by lightening that brass sign. It’s got nothing. Good effort, you tried, it didn’t work, toss it out.

I wrote in the past about how street photography is a tap on the shoulder: “Hey, quick, look over there at that.” And what I’m directing you to look at I promise will be worth your while. I won’t bother you with this scene above. It doesn’t work. It’s a fine idea to try and see if you catch a moment. But alas, you didn’t so it’s an out.

Lion at NY Public Library

It’s the iconic New York Public Library lion, surely that’s a good street photo.” Nope! It needs more and four dark people walking and looking at their cell phones in a shadow doesn’t cut it. Wait here longer for someone more interesting, and toss this out. It’s not enough of a story.

Virtual Reality Ad

“Cool, huh?” What am I looking at? There’s a big ad and the people are all uninteresting in the photograph. Why do I care to look at this? I don’t. That’s why it’s bad and out.

Good photographers are good editors.

Kenneth Wajda

Black Crush

“Hey, look, I crushed the blacks and there’s odd framing with a woman walking out of the frame. But mostly look how contrasty I made it.” Your deep deep blacks can’t save your boring boring photo, no matter how dark you tone them. It’s an out because it’s boring, there’s no story, nothing extra.

Now You Try It

Tell me why these are all on the ‘outs’ pile.

Here’s the answer. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz! Boring. Nothing happening. Not worth another look. You got it exposed properly and in focus, so what? That’s expected. Tell me a story. Give me something worth that tap on the shoulder.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a handful of street photographs that would make the cut, that are good and are worth your time.

But please never show me photographs like this. I see them all day long and I can see them out the window, they’re nothing special. And if I can see them for myself, I don’t need you.

But show me something I might have missed, something funny, clever, emotional, or in some way remarkable, and I’ll take a look for sure and be sure to remember who you are so I can come back for more.

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