I would never classify myself as a street photographer, although on occasion I have taken images that could be classified as street photography. Generally, I identify more with wildlife and inanimate objects or landscape and nature scenes and so these scenes are what I mostly photograph.
So, why did I find myself in Cuba on a Street Photography Workshop? My answer to that question is that I wanted to learn something new and to push myself into a photographic situation where I was not comfortable in order to learn new things and to continue to progress in my photographic journey (and to see and photograph Cuba). Whether I met this goal (aside from seeing and photographing Cuba) is debatable but I did confirm that I most likely will never fall into the street photography category as a photographer. The reason for this statement is the often-stated belief among street photographers that one should not change the image in any way other than some very specific criteria set forth, apparently, based on a long time ago premise on some ancient idea of what street photography is or should be.
I really like to play with my images and I am compelled to edit out things that I think do not add to the overall image as well as to do other fun things. I had a great time in Cuba and I think I got some good shots that reflect life in Cuba, my personal goal, and I did try to stay true to the street photographer’s basic premise of no major changes (which, apparently does not include anything about cropping to the maximum extent possible). The area is rich with potential for images, both urban landscape and people.
A typical street in downtown Old Havana, Cuba.
Nikon Z7 with a Nikon f/2.8 70-200 on an adapter. 1/2000, f/8, auto-ISO 640.
Click for an enlargement
Street photography, like any other genre of photography, has its own “rules,” if you will, or at least guidelines. This type of photography is viewed along the same lines as journalism or documentary work and the basic belief is that the photographer must take the scene as presented, trash and all! This works for me if the trash in the scene is telling some of the story I want to tell but if the trash is simply getting in the way my inclination is to remove it! (Be off with you, white Styrofoam container!)
Since I don’t consider myself a street photographer and would not lay claim to being one I believe that my removal of the trash (or anything else), for the sake of art, is perfectly fine. My instructor and I discussed this issue and his take was that once you are known to remove things in the overall image no one will trust any images you take. Some of my street scenes were about the trash and decay and how people live in such conditions and surmount these obstacles and so the trash does tell part of the story and was left in.
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