Week 01 – Getting over the low hit rate in street photography

A scorcher of a day today in Perth. 41 degrees Celsius /105.8 Fahrenheit is expected! I’ll be staying in, keeping cool and will not be hunting for the project. A sort of street photography recovery/rest day. This forced me to have a look at all the photos from the previous days of shooting.. alot of them. Most were failures of course.

The low hit rate  in street photography use to get me down (Especially when shooting film, 36exp and having no keepers hurts, both the wallet and the ego). In addition looking at great street photos in social media can also affect how one feels about their own work.


So how did I get over the crappy feeling of looking at failed images and the low hit rate?

By discovering, reading and learning about Stoicism (thanks to Tim Ferris, Eric Kim, and Massimo Pigliucci) More specifically the philosopher Epictetus and his writing on what is in our power/span of control.

Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion,motivation, desire, aversion, and in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, social role or status, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing. – Epictetus, Handbook, 1

Applying this philosophy to street photography, we can see, the outside world is really not in our  power. More specifically:

  1. People’s reactions to when we take their photo.
  2. The layering of objects, people in our frame.
  3. Light & shadows
  4. Background/setting, what people wear

These things are external from us and not in our span of control.

So what are some things that are in our power while out shooting?

  1. The way we respond to possible altercations if it were to arise.
  2. Composing  – moving around to get a clean background, rule of thirds, framing etc
  3. Reading books, watching videos and doing workshops to improve our photography.
  4. Shooting at certain times of the day to get the golden light.
  5. Knowing our camera inside out so we are ready to take those fleeting moments.
Colour coordinated

By knowing what is in my power, I have managed to reduce the frustrations and deflation at looking at photos that did not work due to things I have no control over.

Now leaving the lens cap on your rangefinder film camera, that’s on you.


Links to Stoicism below if you are interested.

Tao of Seneca – Tim Ferris

How to be a stoic – Massimo Pigliucci

Stoicism & Street Photography – Eric Kim





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