The Unrepentant Flâneur’s Guide to Street Photography Part 5
Park the Car
For much of my adult life I have received questions and comments from many like, “Why don’t you have a car? You should get a driver’s license. Once you start driving, you’ll never walk anywhere again!” People, who don’t really know me but assume they do, have said these things to me because they’ve only seen me walk or take public transit from place-to-place.
You see, I live in North America, a part of the world where most are obsessed with automobiles; the necessity of them, the ownership of them, the collection of them, the modifying of them, the driving of them, the social status of them, the flaunting of them, the worshipping of them, even the having sex in them. We complain endlessly about price gouging at the pumps but we never do what is truly necessary to boycott the oil companies. It is expected by many that the lives of every adult in Canada and the US will revolve around automobiles.
Truth be told; I’ve maintained a valid driver’s license since I was eighteen. I own a car (my second) and I’ve driven for many years. I’ve just never let myself be as much of a slave to my wheels as everyone else is to theirs. So, I walk and use public transit often and let my wife use the only car we have most days so that she can accomplish her daily tasks.
How does this affect street photography? Well, you most certainly can do street photography while cruising down the street; I’ve made some good images from the passenger seat while my wife drives and even while riding on city busses, but most of your best work will certainly be achieved without any personal use of some form of motorized transportation.
Walk, use a walker, hobble along on crutches, and move about in a wheelchair or something along these modes of travel. When engaging in street photography, your best means of locomotion will put you on the most intimate terms with whatever or whomever you will photograph. Cars, motorbikes and things like that are seldom as reliable.
People-watching is important to street photographers, illustrators, actors, society writers, sociologists and psychologists. If you want to know the health, mind or culture of a city, just stroll around its streets and alleys, and loiter at some of its corners for awhile. So much can happen, so much can be revealed and it’s incredible.
As for all those “seeing is believing” people who assume that I never drive because they don’t see me doing it? Here’s something that they’ve notice about me that actually is accurate. I carry a camera with me just about everywhere I go. If only they knew why.