Step away from that camera 2 / by Hugh Rawson

So you're walking down the street waiting for the next prize worthy image and people are streaming past. Your weapon of choice is clutched in your fist and your palms are itching for another pictorial jackpot. These days, your shooter is capable of an amazing number of frames in one burst. The temptation to keep your finger on the shutter and machine gun your shots is immense - after all one of them is bound to work isn't it? 

More than that, if you stop you might miss the next great one.

Whoooah back up! Just because your camera is capable of shooting a gazillion frames a second doesn't mean it should! 

Coffee with the street photographer. London November 2016

Take your hand off the camera. Breathe. And think. Street photography existed long before rapid burst technology. The first street photographers couldn't even capture moving people because the shutter speed was so slow. They still produced quality photographs full of artistic expression.

Ten frames a second - and some camera are capable of more - will give you a staggering 100 shots to consider in ten seconds. Remember when there were only twelve, twenty four or thirty six shots in an entire roll. It's now possible to fire that off faster than you can read this sentence. Do you really want to wade through that many near misses looking for that decisive moment?

Street photography is like prospecting for gold - most shots won't be worth keeping. Just a handful from a day's shooting. And that's if you're really successful. This is what makes them so satisfying and, for me, what makes it such a rush.

Keep alert. Have eyes everywhere. Anticipate actions. Look for magical light. Seek out juxtapositions, words and humour. But be selective. In short, more thought before pressing the shutter.

And when you get home, be selective some more.

Writers speak of "killing their darlings." They know that an exciting idea easily becomes something that they are determined to make work, no matter what. It will be worked to death and then used determinedly, even if it's actually not as good as the idea had seemed. The amount of hope and then time invested makes it impossible to surrender. A shot that you had high hopes - out of focus, shot a fraction too late/early, shaken, obscured - kill it. Don't waste hours trying to save something which is only a hint of what would have been a great shot. Learn from it- move on.