Inspired by a conversation with a colleague I hold a high amount of respect for, I've been asking myself more and more "why am I taking this photograph?" I think this is particularly important in street photography. The genre is, to a degree, an invasion of people's privacy. You waltz into their life, into a place you really have no right to be, and you're taking a piece of them. It's been said that photographing someone captures a piece of their soul - not necessarily something I believe, but it crosses my mind quite often when I'm street shooting. After all, photography is a capture, in some form or another.
In general, I photograph to capture moments - whether they're events, or a moment of visual beauty, or a scene, or pausing someone in time - I could go on. Street, for whatever reason, is different. Maybe it's because I'm newer to it (and less confident) so I just snap aimlessly, hoping that one shot will work out in some aspect or another. But the problem arises when you get caught. Because what am I supposed to say to someone who asks me why I'm taking a photograph of them? I don't even know. "You're a person; I have a camera" comes across as barely short of moronic, but more often than not, it's the truth, or as much of it as I'm aware.
So why? What is it about a scene or a visage that unfolds in front of me and drives me to immortalize it? It differs with everything. On rare occasions, it's easy to identify, but so often that's not the case. And in the chase to capture that decisive moment, too often I don't have an answer prepared. Too often, there is no real answer. You're a person; I have a camera. That's not enough. In this day and age, everyone has a camera. And this is the most photographed time in history, but so many of those photographs are, in the timeless sense, total rubbish.
That's a different rabbit hole for a different time.
Long story short, more and more am I giving pause and more thought to what I'm photographing. It's somewhat frustrating - I don't come home with the 300+ shutter count at the end of the day (which is kinda stupid anyways because usually 298 are shit, but at least it was evidence I'm doing something). I don't have an answer, a reason for taking the photo. So I don't. But it's a learning curve, and I hope that the more I do this and the more I think about what I'm photographing, the better - more meaningful, more narrative, more timeless - those photographs will be.