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In an over sharing world, making photos comes with pressure. It’s important to step away and focus solely on yourself.

During the summer I wrote a piece that questioned if, in the digital age, any of us truly take photos for ourselves. As many photographers build up their social media following, there is an expectation put on them to deliver in a consistent way. For any artist, playing to the beat of your audiences drum can be very demanding and difficult. Every photo walk becomes a means to an end - and passion becomes work. Does it always have to be like that?

Take Photos Without Expectation

I noticed that I had stopped enjoying my photo walks. I would come home with empty SD cards, or at the most, with a few hack shots that meant nothing to me. I noticed I was working with a mind frame of “people won’t like this so I won’t take it”. I was only looking for images that would be popular to followers, rather than important to me. Instead of feeling light and working fluidly, I was tense and anxious when shooting street photography.

This had to change…

Take Photos of What You Like

I went out with the perspective that I would shoot anything and everything I wanted to. I took photos as if I was a tourist on their jolly holiday. If I liked it, I took it - not really worrying about the golden rules of photography.

I felt so free, liberated in my approach to taking photos. Nothing felt important, nothing had to be deep - it was a whole lot of fun! I felt like the young kid who first got a camera and didn’t have a care in the world. The kid who didn’t care about success, public opinion or how many hearts show up in their notifications. I felt like the kid who loved taking photos just for the sake of taking photos…

I know many people reading this will follow this philosophy already. But, I also know there are photographers who are building a brand, and every detail matters. To those photographers, take time just for you - take photos just for you.

Sorry, for the lack of images in this post - they are all for me.

Thanks for reading

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Photo by Deva Darshan 

You won’t change a thing just by telling the world what a good person you are.

The war on the treatment of women in street photography continues. The more I read on social media the more I realise that most of what is being said has no bearing on the representation of women within the field. Rather, it is just an opportunity for other street photographers, often male, to jump on the bandwagon and get some high fives.

Cryptic Whispers

I have lost count of the number of times I have seen men post on social media something that looks like this.

“I am so angry at what I have just heard. A male street photographer said this about a female street photographer. I think it is just wrong because female street photographers are great’.

Honestly, what have we learnt from that? Pretty much nothing. Other than you are not prepared to be forthcoming with what happened, but are more than happy to let people know how much you disagree and that you are not part of the problem.

Well, you are part of the problem, very much so. Virtue signaling is problematic as it takes away from the opportunity to drive change, in order to make yourself look good.

How about you do name the person, or at least share what they said. That way, instead of the post being all about how great you are, filled with likes and pats on the back, we can have a healthy dialogue and try and make some change happen.

What it also does is create a divide. It implants into minds of the people that there is a huge issue, without anyone knowing any context of what has happened.

Then conversations like this happen.

A - There is a problem with how women are treated in street photography.

B - What is the problem exactly?

A - I have no idea, but it’s what I hear on social media.

Without fact-based evidence nothing will ever be fixed. But who really cares about that anyway? As long as the world knows how fantastic you are, all is well!

Carro Rojo 25.00 Stop making it about you

It is not just individuals, it is organisations also (not all). They cannot wait to tell you the percentage of women that are involved in the event or how proud they are to be ‘one of the few events giving a voice to women’. All it is doing is making talented female photographers a novelty piece rather than just allowing them to be involved on the back of their talent.

Do women need to be represented more? I honestly could not tell you - I would need statistics. I have been to some great events this year and seen a strong inclusion of female representatives. Granted, the word I am hearing is it is a big improvement over previous years.

That improvement will have come from the likes of womeninstreet who have rightly shouted loud and proud about all the amazing work being produced by female street photographers.

It won’t have come from, however, the countless numbers of men jumping on social media telling the world they love women and hate hearing a bad word being said about them.

If you want to see genuine change, don’t virtue signal for your own public benefit. Get out there and do something.

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Photo by Simon Abrams

An artist's mind is a sensitive place. What flows through it will always impact their ability to create. That is why it is important to remove as much toxic influence as possible.

My opinion is that someone who has a creative brain becomes more susceptible to the good and the bad that comes their way. I have developed this way thinking through years of my own experience and through dialogue with other creatives. When things are good they are really good. And when things are bad they are really bad.

I’m learning that the way I live my life has such a huge impact on my ability to do my best work. From the activities I do, the people I allow to be close to me; the way I sleep, eat and drink. And it is is amongst managing all those things that I have had to make difficult, but crucial, decisions in order to achieve what I want to.

Identifying Toxic Influence

There is, of course, a variant of toxic influences one will have in their life. Not all of us experience the same. What is important is that you can identify what your toxic influences are.

Earlier this year I realised the way I was using social media on my smartphone was chewing away at my productivity. The amount of time I was using my phone was eating away at my brain. I had poor focus, anxiety, I couldn’t sleep. How could I possibly be my artistic best with all these toxic factors going through my mind? So, I dumbed down my smartphone. I reclaimed my mental energy by using my smartphone less and instead focused more on positive and rewarding projects.

We become the people we have around us

Okay, so we don’t literally morph into our friends and family. But the people we have around us does impact the way we think and feel about ourselves.

Quite a few people have reached out to me and shared their personal stories of bad friendships, relationships, family members. I tell them all the same thing...

Lake Petén Itzá 30.00

You need people in your life that make you feel like the best version of you. If you have people who put you down, knock your confidence, make you feel insecure - remove them from your life. I know it can be hard, but it is worth it. Anything or anyone that is giving you self doubt will only destroy your path to artistic greatness in the long run

It is equally as important to display extreme ownership. This means taking a look at yourself and your own behaviours in great detail. Maybe you’re a toxic influence, and within a group of friends or just two people, it is also you that is contributing to a toxic energy. You still need to make the same decision - walk away.

Mental Strength

Whether you're a street photographer, a writer, a painter, or any other form of creative; the strength of your mind is important. The way you feel about yourself will reflect on the way you feel about your art.

Let me tell you the changes I have made in 2018 and explain the impact I feel they have had

  • Rebuilt relationships with people

  • Quit a job that was unfulfilling

  • Stopped doing the same patterns and went traveling

  • Lost 2 stone in weight (13kg, 28lb)

  • Removed toxic people from my life

  • Ate better

  • Worked harder

As we approach the final quarter of the year I feel so much better about myself. I am writing multiple times a day. My readership has increased. The feedback I am getting is becoming more and more positive. I am now getting paid to write about something I am passionate about.

I feel my street photography is getting better, I am seeing more confidence in the way that I am working. I even got featured in The Guardian!

Removing toxic influence, being more healthy, makes me feel lighter and gives me so much more energy. All this energy can be focused into my art and passions, and the rewards are plenty.

This is not an opportunity to gloat, but rather to show you the impact having a less toxic life really does have.

Make Changes Today

Take some time, be honest with yourself and write down what you feel are your toxic influences. Once you have done this, come up with a plan to change them. If you are as passionate about your artistic success as you say you are, you will have no choice but to make changes.

I promise you that once you do make a change, that short-term pain will only give you long-term gain.

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Photo by Jordan Whitt 

Photography records a moment in time. It leaves a mental footprint and can shape the way we think and feel about the world.

I have been thinking a lot about how street and documentary photography can shape the way we feel about certain social norms. The more a certain topic gets covered, the more it becomes a part of our everyday life. I think photography certainly has its place in promoting positive (and negative) attitudes towards everyday subjects.

Breast Feeding

In this piece, I am going to focus on breastfeeding as an example. After coming across the work of Ali Kate Cherkis on her Instagram, I was inspired by the message she was promoting through her photographic work.

She shares images of a mother breastfeeding her child, taking advantage of Instagram’s policy on the topic.

“Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful, and we understand that it's important for mothers to be able to share their experiences on Instagram. The vast majority of these kinds of posts are following our policies”. (Instagram policy on breastfeeding)

A post shared by Ali Kate Cherkis (@cherkis) on Apr 5, 2018 at 3:14pm PDT

I commend Instagram for taking this stance and think it is great Cherkis is using it to produce work that will help push breastfeeding into the social norm.

Breastfeeding, if not done in the privacy of somebody’s home, still gathers quite a negative response. People feel the process of a child feeding on their mother’s breast is offensive and rude.

One can only suspect this is because they are unable to remove the sexualisation of a woman’s breast. The result of this is they feel uncomfortable when they see them exposed in public.

A post shared by Ali Kate Cherkis (@cherkis) on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:55pm PST

When I was traveling through Central America, breastfeeding in public was here there and everywhere! It was not even considered a topic of conversation. If the baby needs to feed they will be fed.

This is where we need to be in terms of our overall stance on breastfeeding. It should not be up for debate, it should just be what it is - a connection between mother and child, celebrated not scorned.

The power of social media

Today we don’t have to stand in the street shouting our opinions in the hope someone will listen. We can just load up our device and reach a global audience in a matter of seconds. Sharing such images on social media, whilst spreading a positive message, works towards normalising certain actions.

The response to Cherkis work has been mainly positive, but not without rejection. I asked her about the story behind the images...

“Breastfeeding and motherhood are themes that run through my work. I've been ruminating for a while now on how I can expand them into a larger project about womanhood and the transition into motherhood. Most of my friends (in those images) have been harassed for breastfeeding in public at some point, and so while I'm naturally drawn to making images of the deep primal connection between mother and child, I also feel it's important to use the platform of social media to show these images in order to normalise them. I've had all sorts of trolls come after me when I've posted these images, and it only fuels my fire”.

A post shared by Ali Kate Cherkis (@cherkis) on Apr 8, 2018 at 4:08pm PDT

What are you passionate about?

Breastfeeding is just one of the topics that divide certain cultures. If there is something you are passionate about promoting or an ideology you feel needs challenging, then use the power of your photography to spread your message.

A small collection of images can go a long way to making a big difference.

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In the modern era, portfolio reviews have become big business in the photographic world.

In this week’s episode of A Photographic Life United Nations of Photography(UNP) founder and curator, Grant Scott, discussed the business of portfolio reviews. He explored the positive and negatives of paying for a review, and  explained his aim to create a free feedback community for photographers.

Overpriced portfolio Reviews

Scott stated how he has seen portfolio reviews being offered for as much as £150 for a 20 minute Skype conversation.

In my opinion, these kind of prices are absolutely damaging to how we view this market within the industry. For £150 I would be expecting an extensive, detailed analysis of my work, something I do not feel can be achieved in 20 minutes.

We also need to think about who is completing the review. A couple of years ago, I entered 5 images to a LensCulture street photography competition as in return I would get a “free” portfolio review. Now the problem with that review was that I never knew who conducted it. I was only told that it was one of the competition judges.

In reality, I learnt nothing from that review. I was also £35 out of pocket and didn't even know if the reviewer was someone who's opinion had any worth.

Free Portfolio Reviews

In the podcast, Scott proposed the idea of having a database of photographers that worked together to give open and honest feedback. The highlight of this community is that the feedback would be free.

It would give photographers who had worked hard over the years the opportunity to give back. It would allow them to give up and coming photographers an opportunity to develop.

A Photographic Life Episode 17: Plus Photographer Jenny Lewis - SoundCloud
(1232 secs long, 204 plays)Play in SoundCloud

On paper, the concept sounds great, right? If someone with experience wants to pass that knowledge down for free, power to them. However, I do not think we ought to aim to eradicate paid reviews (I did not feel that’s what Scott was suggesting).

Portfolio reviews are good to have as an attainable means of income in the photographic world for professional and experienced photographers. Earning money from reviews is something we can all work towards. In an industry that doesn’t always pay well or offer a stable income, it is extremely important for the industry that we try and preserve as many income streams as we can.

In my opinion, a database of respected photographers who offer well-priced reviews would be the better approach.

That way the income stream remains strong, and people are not getting ripped off in the process.

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Photo by Anete Lūsiņa 

“It doesn’t matter what others think; I just shoot street photography for myself”.

If you’re somebody who likes to converse about street photography a lot, I am almost certain you have listened to someone make the above statement before. It’s highly possible you have even said it yourself. However, in this digital world, do any of us shoot street photography just for ourselves?

How do we shoot street photography for ourselves?

The most well-known example of shooting street photography solely for your own enjoyment is Vivian Maier. As the now well-known story goes, Vivian kept all of her images to herself, many of which remained undeveloped. She was not interested in success or status, she just enjoyed going out with her Rolleiflex and documenting everyday life.

But times have changed since the days of Vivian Maier. They have even changed dramatically since the discovery of her work back in 2007.

In today’s digital world, images are created instantly. We now have the ability to share them with a mass audience just by making a few clicks with our fingers. So, once that frame has moved from your eye to the SD card; the SD card to the hard drive and the hard drive to social media, does it stop being just for ourselves?

Why do you share photography on social media?

The reality is, as soon as we share our photograph publicly, what we are asking for is validation. We are asking people to validate that the image we have shared is as good as we believe it is.

At that moment the whole set up changes, and we become reliant on others to help shape how we feel about our street photography.

Is there anything wrong with that? No, of course not.

For some reason, it still feels slightly taboo for us to say ‘I think I am really good at something, and I want everyone to know about it and agree with me’. It seems like the old cliche of being all about the art and not the popularity, still has a strong grip around our creative necks.

Reaction shapes action

Comments and likes give us a chemical response in our brains. The reward chemical, Dopamine, is activated when people respond positively to something that we have posted. Not only does it feel good, it’s addictive.

This can impact the way we make our photographs, as trial and error will teach us what our audience likes. The less positive response you receive, the less intense the hit of Dopamine.

Now you crave it. So what do you do?

The likelihood is, you go out at the golden hour and take a picture of someone just walking out of the darkness and into the light. Your Instagram explodes with likes and you feel amazing.

There are many defining factors that will contribute to how we shoot street photography. I do not feel that we can say our motive is purely driven from our own perspective.

Also, being influenced by others isn’t a bad thing. The more open we are, the more we can learn.

So, I am happy to say I shoot for everyone - myself included.

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There is a certain satisfaction in helping someone kick-start their photography project.

Kickstarter is a wonderful website where photographers (amongst other mediums) can use it to help raise money to bring their project to fruition. It's a win for everyone, as in return for your backing, depending on how much you invest you will receive some form of product.

There are many reasons to show your support for a photography project, other than receiving goods because of it. It could be to help a worthwhile cause, support something you are passionate about, or simply to just help a fellow artist out.

To help get your investment juices flowing - here are 5 Kickstarter projects worth backing.

The Dash Between

Known for his images of Liverpool during the 1980s and 90s, Rob Bremner's wonderful work is now being turned into a photo book. Brought to us by Bluecoat Press, you have the chance to help them reach their £8,000 target.

£25 will get you a signed copy of the hardback book. If you are feeling extra generous, back with £175 or more and you will get; A signed copy of the book, acknowledgment, and 8 8x10 signed prints. 

Learn more about The Dash Between project here

Camden Camera Cre8ivs

This is a great project to help the future generation to get involved with photography. Launched by the EDM Foundation, the objective is to teach teenagers residing in the Camden area, both digital and analog photography. This will be an after-school programme aiming to start in late 2018.

Prints, postcards and high 5s are on offer in return for your investment. However, this is really something worth doing just to support the local kids!

Learn more about Camden Camera Cre8ivs below 

Borderlands

Borderlands, brought to us by Phil Curry, is an exploration of both cultural and national identity.  It is an opportunity to see how we recognise a change in location and societal norms.

The photography project will use landscape to identify where two nations become seperated, other than just the geographical border between them.

An interesting project, more so as nationalism is starting rise again throughout Europe.

Learn more about Borderlands and what you can get for your backing below:

47 / A Life With Cystic Fibrosis

This amazingly touching photo book documents the lives and attitudes of people living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). 

Created by Simon Wiffen, the book is made up of beautiful portraits and stories, from a wide range of people diagnosed with CF.

Your investment can bring this project to life. It can also get you a signed copy of the book, selected prints, and even your own personal photo shoot.

Capability - Photography Project

Megan Ogley has worked on this insightful and thought provoking project titled, Capability.

Documenting people with prosthetics or amputations, her work focuses on their strengths and capabilities.

Uncomfortable with the term - disability - the project highlights that those who are faced with perceived physical challenges can achieve many things in life.

The project goal is to turn the work into a photo book.

Support Megan and her work, as she travels the UK, meeting some truly inspiring people along the way. 

Find more on Kickstarter

If you liked any of the projects above, then please do show your support. Even the smallest contribution can go along way!

Kickstarter has many more projects that may be of interest to you, so check them out!

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Photo by Jiroe

The ethics of street photography are widely debated, and for some, have become a little tired.

One of the oldest and most common discussions is whether or not we should take photos of homeless people. The topic came up at this year’s Street London event.

Some say yes, it’s all fair game. Whilst others suggest it’s taking advantage of a person at their lowest point.

Personally speaking, I no longer take images of homeless people. I see no purpose to it. When we start to make our work ‘socially aware’ we need to be sure we are really making a difference with it. The truth is that your photo won’t change the world, nor should you be using it as a way to show how connected you are to societal issues.

In reality, you will just have an image of a homeless person on your hard drive, doing absolutely nothing. In the process of that you have likely made someone feel like a trophy, some sort of freak show that you have used to create your ‘art’.

Acception to the rule?

There are some exceptions to the rule, however. Sometimes, the photographer is able to keep the dignity of the person whilst also creating a powerful, and meaningful image. Take this street photograph by Matt Stuart for example.

A post shared by Matt Stuart (@mattu1) on Aug 7, 2018 at 6:13am PDT

The shadow casts the image of a cross on the shelter of the person sleeping rough. The image provokes thought, and encourages you to reflect on the deep pain people like this have to face on a daily basis. You can not identify the person, and their dignity remains intact.

However, the truth is, images like this are very few and far between - you could say they are a once in a lifetime kind of photograph.

The likelihood is that if you were to take an image of a homeless person - it is probably going to look more like this…

A post shared by Célio (@celio.ricardi) on Aug 20, 2018 at 5:24pm PDT

The image does not tell us anything we do not already know about the world. It is just another photographer thinking they are edgy, taking advantage of another human being. The dignity of the person has not been kept, and their identity is fully exposed for all to see.

Something to consider

We all take advantage of the law in relation to street photography. The public setting means all systems go in terms of making photos. However, there is one thing I would like you to consider before you next take an image of that person living on the street.

After a long day of asking for money, substance abuse or generally being looked down upon by many people that walk by - rough sleepers have to find somewhere to take comfort. And wherever that place is on the street, it becomes their home. A place to try and relax and rest, before they have to endure their difficult life again the following day.

So, yes it is a public spot for us. But to them, the unfortunate reality is that they have to make it as private and homely as they possibly can. We wouldn’t like people poking their cameras in our house, would we?

And if you still insist your image has purpose and worth - buy them a coffee, give them a couple of pounds, or have a conversation with them.

At the very least give them their humanity; something they are so commonly stripped of.

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London - Street Photography is dead, at least that is what the pessimists will have you believe.

However, if we take ourselves over to Brick Lane, the home of this year’s Street London event (hosted by Hoxton Mini Press), then there was an abundance of reasons given as to why that certainly isn’t the case.

The event was extremely well attended. A far cry from the tired rhetoric that street photography is for a small group of elitist middle-class white men, the venue was filled with a diverse group of ages, genders, and identities.

The same was true for the lineup. Crossing paths with documentary photography, photojournalism, women in street, new photographers, experienced photographers - the message was clear - this weekend was for the many, not the few.

In a relaxed setting, coupled with a free bar, the opening night was an opportunity for the community to come together, see old friends and meet new people. With opening talks from Creative Director, Nick Turpin, and the two guest Creative Directors, Kirstin Van Den Eede and Olly Lang, the outline was given for the weekend's itinerary.

What was evident from all three, was that this was not just some money spinner, but rather a chance for them to really inject their passion for street photography into the audience. Listening and noticing their enthusiasm; a) made me want to go out and shoot, and b) really got me exicted for the next couple of days.

Saturday arrived and the event was opened by the award-winning landscape and documentary photographer, Simon Roberts. He displayed some beautiful work, both from his inspirations and his time shooting in Russia in 2004.

At first glance, I questioned why an event titled ‘Street London’ would be opened by someone who, whilst extremely talented and successful, was clearly not a street photographer. However, as Simon progressed with this talk, it became apparent that alongside him, we were working together to see if his work borrowed from the elements of street photography. And yes, although his images were clearly more aligned with landscape, there were signs of street style shots within his body of work.

Simon’s style and insightful talk should not just be viewed just in isolation, however, as it was building to the weekends bigger narrative - What is Street Photography?

Which brings us to the event’s first panel discussion - ‘Exploring the Borders of Street Photography'.

Panel discussions are great for two reasons. They encourage debate, and it also gives the audience an opportunity to get involved with the dialogue. Such a topic could be discussed all day, as defending the definition of the craft is clearly important to the many that practice it. The people were opinionated and the conversation remained respectful. They conversed openly about staged photography, the meaning behind an image and how documentary photography and photojournalism incorporate the street style.

Spot Light

The Spot Light gave an opportunity to 6 up and coming photographers to share their work and the meaning behind it. All the photographers had some great portfolios to share, and it was wonderful to see such a diverse approach to the craft - especially after the interesting yet slightly deflating coverage of the Instagram account Street Repeat earlier in the day.

For me, the stand out photographer was Cam Crosland. I personally have been a long time admirer of Cam’s work, but this was the first time I got to understand their creative journey.

Cam uses flash when out shooting and has been able to produce images that display a sensitive approach to flash street photography. Their creative identity was found whilst they settled into their personal identity. Cam identifies as non-binary, and it was clear that as soon as they had become comfortable in their personal self, their artistic work benefited from it. There is a lot to be said about how our mentality and self-confidence really impacts our work.

"Fishing with dynamite" London, 2017 . . #apfmagazine #burnmyeye #burnmagazine #observecollective #everybodystreet #gupmagazine #ourstreets #HCSC_street #lotsmagazine #fragmentphotos

A post shared by Cam Crosland (@cjcroslandstreet) on Jan 9, 2018 at 11:04am PST

Street Walks

It was time for less talk and more walk, as some of the attendees got to see inside the working process of successful street photographers. Hosted by Nick Turpin, Kristen Van De Eede, Charlie Kwai, David Gaberele and Olly Lang, these 5 photographers gave a treat to those that walked with them. The feedback was that the walks were both very insightful and challenging, with those involved feeling like they had a clearer view of how to make better photographs.

The only downside to the walks is that not everyone was able to get on them due to the size limitations of the groups. It may have been better advised to do the walks across two days, giving more people the opportunity to learn and develop their skills.

The day ended with a street party, where we were all spoilt with some delicious food, beer, and wine. The community swapped Instagram accounts, business cards, and portfolios. I’m certain nobody went home feeling disappointed.

Final Day

After a diverse and thought-provoking experience the previous day, Sunday really got down to the nitty-gritty. Opened up by the amazing Matt Stuart, the tone was set that the final day was for the hardcore street photography lovers.

Matt’s work speaks for itself. For me, there is no better active street photographer working today. Matt isn’t about status, and regardless of all his success, here is a man that through his words really wants to pass on all that he has learnt. It was a great opening talk and as should be the case with all the talks, really made me want to go out and take better photos.

Following Matt, we got to the creme de la creme of all street photography questions - How do you make money from street photography?

The panel included; Matt Stuart, Nick Turpin, and Global Head of Commercial Assignments at Magnum, Tim Paton.

The harsh reality had to be made clear - pretty much nobody is going to pay you to roam around freely, make photos as you please, and then give you a stack of cash for it. However, that doesn’t mean your style of street photography cannot be utilised. If you market yourself well, make good photos, many commercial companies will be more than happy to commision you for their projects. If you wanted to have an understanding of the amount of effort, and failure, that goes into marketing your work, listen to Matt Stuart:

“When I was first starting out I sent 1000 postcards, which had my work on them, to companies offering my services. Out of those 1000 postcards I got 4 responses. 3 of which were just a thank you, and one which gave me an actual job. 1000 postcards into one commission. However, that commission paid me £10,000 and I was able to use that to go out and do what I love”.

All three panelists strongly advised taking all the work you can. Whilst more often than not you won’t have the creative freedom you are used to, it is a chance to earn funds to then go out and do what you care about. One commercial commission can allow you to finish that book, bring that project to life, or take you on a nice little holiday abroad.

As with any event, one of the key rules is to start big and end even bigger. Well, the closing hours of Street London went completely off the scale.

Everyone was spoilt, and I mean everyone, by an impromptu talk by the legendary Joel Meyerowitz. Joel is such a nice man, and even at the age of 80 still has the same passion for street photography as he did when he was one of the original innovators. He loves being with people who share the same passion as he has had for all these decades.

The event closed with a full video interview with Dorothy Bohm. 

At the age of 94, all of us would have been understanding if Dorothy decided to sit this one out. However, that was not the case, and as if it was no problem at all, Dorothy was in attendance - ready to mix with everyone. Much respect has to be given to Dorothy, she conversed with as many people as she could and took the time to sign books. A real class act and a perfect sign off for a real class event.

© Adam Maizey

Value for Money

In my opinion, everyone got their value for money and then some from this weekend. From the directors to the bar staff, everyone involved in running the event worked effortlessly to ensure everyone had a great time. No detail was left untouched and everything had a high quality feel to it - they really did fly the flag for street photography.

Street Photography: born in Paris, grew up in New York, now lives in London. Street London has certainly played their part in making that a reality - ensuring all is alive and well.

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Leeds - On Sunday 5th August the city centre was overtaken by 40,000 people. It was the annual Pride event, the biggest celebration of the LGBT community.  A city often affiliated with the white rose, Leeds was transformed into a vibrant place filled with pink, yellow, orange, green and blue. This was a celebration of strength, a celebration of freedom, and of course, a celebration of love. I was there to document it with my camera, and in the process was able to learn a valuable lesson.

The hurdles of love

As a white heterosexual male with a liberal upbringing, it is unlikely that I will have to face any relationship challenges other than those most commonly connected with our experience of love. Heartbreak, betrayal, loneliness, grief, are all likely to be battled by a person throughout their life. However, unlike those represented at Pride, I will never have to defend my love, my attractions, or my identity.

But for many in the LGBT community, the first challenge they face is not external, but rather internal. I spoke with one of the attendees at yesterday’s pride about their journey as a homosexual man (we will refer to him as Steve).

“I remember getting these urges, these desires. I would look around me and think ‘the way I feel does not line up with what I see around me’. It was husband and wife, mum and dad, boyfriend and girlfriend. I hated myself. What was wrong with me?”.

Rather than embracing who he was, Steve tried to suppress it.

“I refused to accept who I was, so I ran away from it. I would date women. I got married and was about to start a family. I did almost everything I could in order to be the opposite of who I truly was”.

Steve's experience is not unique. It has been a common theme for many gay people throughout their life. However, listening to him as he shared his journey, made me think about how we think and feel about ourselves.

Self Love

No matter our sexual orientation, or gender, or ethnicity, before we can truly love and accept love, we must first be able to love ourselves. All of us must face that challenge.

And whilst on the surface it may sound easy, for many it is not. For many people, when they look in the mirror, they do not like the person they see. As a result they seek validation from others, and can become dependent on those around them to be able to make them feel good about who they are.

But what happens when the validation isn’t there? What happens when you feel like you're alone, where does the love come from?

Steve says…

“As time went on, I found myself becoming even more unhappy. I realised rather than suppress who I was, I needed to express who I was. I went to therapy, I did a lot of work on myself, on my own anxieties and pain”.

Our first point of validation of who we are should always come from ourselves. Steve is now in a same sex relationship and couldn’t be happier.

“I am a bit older than many here today. I came out nearly 20 years ago, and it was the best decision I ever made. A dark cloud, that only I carried over me, has been lifted. It has burst open, and excuse the pun - it’s raining men”.

Yesterday’s event was a reminder of the men and women that have fought, hurt and even died for people's right to be who they are. It was a chance to show off how far we have come and also to accept the work that still needs doing.

The usual soundbites rightly flew around. “Love is love” being the most common.

However, yesterday I had the chance to stand back and take a look at what I truly saw around me. That was 40,000 people marching with pride and having the opportunity to say - “This is me, and I truly and deeply love and accept myself”.

I think we can all learn something from that.

Thanks for reading

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