What do Bird and Street Photography Have in Common?

May 2, 2018

I’m writing this on a flight heading down to Houston, Texas. As we cruise along at 35,000 ft, I was contemplating what I could write about for my next blog post. I was listening to the latest episode of Ted Vierra’s new podcast, Photography Matters, and it struck a chord with me. As an aside, if you haven’t found his podcast, check it out. It is fantastic! They consist of short 10-15 minute gems of inspiration. In episode 12 he mentions that “variety is the spice of life.” I couldn’t agree more. It is so important to mix it up every so often. I’m addicted to street photography, but not at the expense of shooting it exclusively. So with that in mind, here is something a little bit different. Did you know that good bird and street photography images have something in common?

The Streets

I love street photography! I find it challenging and very satisfying. One of the neatest aspects are the conversations I have with complete strangers. I think I have grown as a person meeting people whose paths I would not ordinarily have crossed. Photographing on the streets can be very eye-opening that way.

Moments Matter

But the thing I love the most about street photography is when all the elements come together. Most times I can find pleasing light and great subjects, but it is the moment when something completely unscripted happens that is magic. Maybe it is a loving gesture or an unexpected action. Those are the images that mean the most to me. It is so satisfying when all the elements, and a bit of luck, come together at the same instant to create a compelling photograph.

Going to the Birds

Growing up on the west coast of Canada, I fell in love with nature and the outdoors at a young age. Most of my early photography is landscape and wildlife-based. And I still enjoy any opportunities I can get to shoot out in the wild.

The purpose of our trip to Houston is two-fold. Firstly, we are looking forward to catching up with the friends we met while living in the southern US. And secondly, it is spring migration! So I’m excited to do some bird photography. I became an avid birder when we lived in the south for five years. And birding and photography go hand in hand. So with any luck, by the time I post this next week, I’ll have something a little different to share with you.

So What do Bird and Street Photography Have in Common?

You might think that bird and street photography are entirely different genres, and their subjects unquestionably are. However, what I said above about street photography holds true for bird photography as well. OK, not the part about having conversations with my subjects! But the part about capturing unique moments when all the elements come together. I have enough “bird on a stick” portraits. For me, the satisfaction of bird photography, just like street, comes from capturing unique gestures and actions. And the skills I have honed while capturing street photographs have gone a long way to improve my wildlife images, and vice-versa.

So here are a few of my favourites from our trip. And I’ll leave you with this thought. The next time you are out shooting, take time to mix it up. Try a genre of photography you have never tried before. Use a different focal length than you usually do. Try long exposures. Shoot film if you ordinarily shoot digital. It doesn’t matter how you mix it up. Change is good; it will challenge you. And challenges are how we grow as artists.

Cheers until next week.