Some street photographers do listen to music while they are roaming the streets with their cameras. Some say it is beneficial for their creativity, some see the advantage that having their headphones on sort of protects them from potential comments from people they are taking pictures of. Though I can see the rational I personally don’t agree with both those arguments.
When shooting the streets I need to be embedded in the sound of the city. I need to hear the voices of people, the sounds of their hustling steps, the rumbling of street cars, cleaning & delivery activities, announcements in shops, occasional sirens, just everything that makes up the sounds in the heart of the city. For me this is rather an additional source of creativity rather than a disturbing factor. And on top, running around in traffic with headphones on is simply dangerous.
I also don’t feel the need to protect myself from other people’s comments. Street photography is about capturing life on the streets, also shooting pictures of people going about their everyday activities. While typically I don’t draw much attention while taking photographs of passersby occasionally I do get a comment of persons that are either surprised or irritated by the fact that a complete stranger is taking a picture of them.
I firmly believe that all human being should treat each other with respect. If everybody would adhere to this principle the world would be a much better and safer place. And being respectful means also that I need to listen to people who want to tell me something, be it positive or negative. Some people just don’t want to get their picture taken, and if they tell me this before I press the trigger or ask my afterward to delete the shot I obviously excuse myself with a smile and comply. And I don’t want to run away pretending that I haven’t heard the request. Treat all persons like you want to be treated. This is one of my core principles. Obviously there are also the curious comments. And here you have the chance to interact with strangers, explain them what you are doing (thus nicely conveying the message that street photographers are not a breed of introvert nerds) and learn something about them. After all, street photography is also about the people in the streets, so why should I hide from them?
Where I do listen to music related to my photography is when I’m in the digital darkroom (I love this term, it is so much more romantic as opposed to say I’m “processing” my images on a computer). When editing I love listening to music, it helps me focus on the task and brings me in the right mood. As I don’t have to interact with anyone while editing/processing I can fully enter the creative tunnel (after all my wife can always shake my shoulder or jump up and down in front of me if they need something). There is no special music I need for this. I like to listen to a wide variety of music genres from Classical Music to Hip Hop and Metal. What I put into my player depends on the mood I’m in or the mood I want to get into.
In order to introduce you to my “photographic playlists” and perhaps provide some inspirational tidbits I’m starting a series of posts “What I listen to while in the Digital Darkroom” that each talks about an individual album, so look for this coming soon on “Streets of Nuremberg”.
Have a great day