Street Photography is Boxing Meets Ballet

eric kim street photography -sapa-0005957-2

I think a good street photographer is like a hybrid between a boxer and a ballerina.

A street photographer is like a boxer because we can’t keep our feet planted (or else we’ll get knocked out). We need to constantly stay on our toes. To be agile. To move, to predict the movement of others. And not only that, but in street photography (like boxing) you will be beaten up, bruised, and knocked out every once in a while. Even the best boxer in the world cannot avoid being punched.

A street photographer is like a ballerina, because we need to be graceful. We need to move quickly, know when to pause, know when to change directions— with poise and elegance. We need to be flexible. We need to have grace and flair.

How to be a better street photographer

Some practical tips in street photography:

  1. Don’t stand still: If you’re ‘working a scene’ in street photography, don’t keep your feet planted. Move. ‘Work the scene’ by moving left, right, by crouching, or stepping forward. The same goes in boxing or being a ballerina.

  2. Don’t be afraid of pain: A boxer learns how to build a thick skin, by being used to being beaten up. A ballerina learns to dance through the pain in their toes and joints. In street photography, we will have people yell at us, curse us, and threaten us. Street photography takes a huge act of courage. We cannot stop people from getting angry at us, but we can learn patience, calm, fortitude, bravery, and how to deal with the anger of others.

  3. Don’t be fat and flabby: The best boxers are lean and mean. They watch their diet. They might not weigh much, but they pack a punch. Ballerinas also have strict diets. If they want to perform at their maximum, they cannot eat sweets, and foods which weigh them down. The same goes in street photography. Don’t over-load yourself with food before you shoot. I recommend shooting when you’re hungry — this way, you will become like a lean, sharp, and agile boxer or ballerina. And of course, lots of coffee.

Learn more: Street Photography 101 >