Have you ever fallen into a creative slump, when you just didn't know what to shoot? It's a problem for every photographer sooner or later, and street photographers are no exception. While there may be new photo opportunities around every corner, sometimes just walking around looking for the shot isn't enough to wake up your muse. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time in the same city; after a while, it seems you've already shot everything there is to see.
One way to overcome this problem that works very well in this particular genre is to find a theme. There's always something going on, and on many occasions, lots of people are involved in the same thing, even if not necessarily at the same time. The city itself is full of elements that can become focal points for a theme. Here are a few ideas as examples for street photography themes:
Intersections and street corners are often centers of bustling activity of one form or another, whether it might be the crowds waiting for the crosswalk signals, panhandlers with their cardboard signs or the rush of the traffic. The architecture of buildings, colors, signs and other features can come together in very interesting ways at these corners, too. This is a good theme to start with and can lead to others with the things you find.
From quaint little shop windows to the walls of towering skyscrapers, one of the things you'll find plenty of in the city is glass. Where there's glass, there are reflections and they often go unnoticed. Try making a conscious effort to focus on just the things you see reflected in windows for a while. Couples shopping, billowing clouds, street lights and traffic lights – you won't run out of subjects on this one for quite some time.
This one might put off a few readers, what with all the self-proclaimed heroes out there posting videos of themselves doing nice things for people on the street. On the other hand, looking for unsung heroes while you're out there can turn up some surprising finds. Take some time to look for simple acts of kindness that happen every day while no one notices. It's fuel for some great photos and will leave you feeling a little better about the world at the end of the day.
Just Keep it in Mind
I could go on all day giving you ideas for themes that you might find in your city or those that you visit, but there's really no need. The best way to use this idea is to simply keep it in mind while you're shooting. Think about the things you see often and those you see rarely. What do the shops and the people have in common? What separates them? A little creative thought is all you need to come up with ideas of your own for themes and for every one you find, the possibilities for that perfect shot will be there.
When you get those great shots, why not put them out there in a gallery of your own on KeepSnap and see how well viewers react to your theme ideas? You may even sell a few, especially if you left your KeepSnap card with the people that ended up in your shots. If you don't know what I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and go open a KeepSnap account today. (It's free!) Take a look here.