Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Shoot What You Want to Shoot

I am often asked "what do you always look for when you shoot on the street, and what should we watch out for?". Honestly, there is no straight and easy answer to that. My consistent answer has always been go and shoot what caught your attention, what spoke to you, and what attracted you. If you found something interesting enough to grab your attention, then that should be an interesting subject to photograph. 

The mistake that most people do when they shoot on the street? They read too many street photography books, read too many tips and tricks on street photography blogs or forums or listening to every rules from some street photographer gurus, and tried to emulate and produce what they thought what street photography model was. The way I see it, there should not be any model. There were great street photography work done in the past, but let's move on. Let's make even greater images. Stop referencing the past. The people, the place, the culture, the history, the time, everything is different and we should move forward. We, the new generation of street photographers should define our street photography. I am not discrediting or putting aside where street photography came from, I have deep respect for that, but are we really making our own photographs, or are we merely trying to be what they were?

So yes, I see things very differently, because I am different. I shoot differently, because I am different. I am not a great photographer, but I am happy shooting what I see, and I am glad I can share these images here. There are no secret recipe, special techniques, or tricks to get the kind of shots I am showing here. They are honest, straight to the point, no drama photographs. 

Kuala Lumpur

Market folks

Hard Work

Innocent eyes


Inside the shop

Noodles Factory

Portrait of a Stranger

Face Wrapped

Dried seafood

Do not be afraid to speak up. Do not be afraid to stay true to yourself. And most importantly, do not be afraid to shoot what you want to shoot. Do not let others tell you what you should be shooting, or how to do street photography. Read, explore, do your research, but apply and implement in your own unique way. Be yourself, and be different! And do not forget to enjoy photography while you are doing it!


  1. How do you get the cats to look into your camera? The cats and dogs always turn their face away from my camera and sometimes make eeeeerrrrrr sound to signal their anger!

    1. Cat's "converse" mainly with eye contact. Wide open eyes are aggressive, narrowed eyes are friendly. Try squinting at cats, they'll like you.....

  2. I picked up a DSLR 6 years ago but learn by trial and error, never attended any classes or learn from anyone. Someome saw my photos and even tell me I have no art sense! Thanks for confirming what I have thinking about the same thoughts on street photographing.

  3. Hi Robin, I find myself thinking the way you do. Though my subjects are rarely people (except family gatherings) when I have a camera with me I usually have no idea what I am looking for. It's sort of like "I can't tell you what I am looking for, but I know when I see it". It's actually that kind of thing that makes me feel (at least from time to time) that I have some creative juices in me. I especially like it when people who were with me see the pictures and say, "Gee, I didn't see that" :-)

  4. Well written Robin! The only tip in street photography that was always useful for me is to do whatever comes to your mind, you can think later! :D
    By the way, nice images like always.

  5. Excellent advice, Robin, and I think your philosophy holds true even beyond street photography, I really like the photo "Curios" of the kitten!

  6. I tend to agree - if you emulate what has come before you, you risk gaining technical proficiency only. Pay atention to how your emotions react and you'll be likely to create something new and interesting. I must admit to spending a bit too much time on the former, and neglecting the latter!

  7. I miss playing with my camera !!!

  8. Well said Robin. I must say, I did a street photography "workshop" a while ago, and it actually put me off the genre a bit! But that may be because it took me out of my comfort zone.

  9. Hi Robin,
    Excellent piece of advice. I was supposed to take photography lessons to further my knowledge of photography - I started with SLRs but completely forgotten about how to operate a camera after years of using point-and-shoot. I realized that the only way I can relearn (and more) is probably by going out there and start snapping away. I know there's still room for improvement but, I now feel more confident using a big camera again.