For a good photo, you need to be as close to your subject as possible, is the advice you often hear and read when you start street photography. You are only really good if you shoot like Bruce Gilden. It seems that way.
Anyone ever seen Bruce Gilden? He is big, loud and rude. He can’t help that. But it’s an advantage when you shove a camera up someone’s nostril.
And yet you keep hearing. “You have to be bold. Otherwise you’re not a street photographer!”
It’s silly macho talk, based on documentary photography as popularised by the photographers of Magnum, traditionally a bastion of tough men, by the way. Photography also from another time, when there was no television and when photos could still change the world.
Street photography portrays street life and people’s everyday environment. On the street, you will find numerous situations and objects that show how and with what we live. It is much more than stepping on some stranger’s toes.
Don’t get distracted by whether the genre police think something is street photography or not. Agents of the genre police often have a very small mind.
Sometimes a photo gets better if you move closer. Sometimes if you take a step back. Discreetly keeping your distance might actually enhance the atmosphere.
Shoot what you like. Think: it’s my photo. This is what Bruce Gilden also always says when someone makes a nasty remark to him.
You’ve gotta learn from the best.