Veteran Street Photographer Offers Some No-BS Advice on How to Get Better

LA-based documentary and street photographer John Free has been practicing and teaching street photography for over 30 years. He’s taught workshops in LA, New York, Paris and London, and his work has appeared in Newsweek, Smithsonian, US News and World Report and more.

In other words, he has many years worth of experience to offer (which is probably why he teaches workshops), and in the short YouTube video above he makes a little bit of his knowledge available for free.

The topic at hand is street photography and getting rid of the tension you might feel when you first hit the streets with your camera. But in truth, the advice he offers is applicable to every type of photography, whether you’re inside the studio or out on the street.

Described as “part stand-up and part evangelist,” Free does a much better job of getting his points across than we could, so we’ll let you watch the video at the top rather than repeating everything here. But if we had to describe what he has to say in three words or less, we would probably pick: practice, practice and practice.


Several times throughout the video he points out that every other profession practices, so why not photographers. Don’t just go out and shoot, deliberately practice so that when the “decisive moment” comes along, you’re not stuck trying to dial in your focus or unsure of the best angle. Practice, maintains Free, will make it so that when your brain tells you to click the shutter, you’re actually prepared.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this short 5 minute video than that — including a brilliant bit at the end where he talks about who your photography is really for (hint: it’s not for yourself) and why understanding this is crucial to creating great work — but we’ll let Mr. Free take it from here.

To see more of Free’s work, read a more comprehensive bio, sign up for a workshop or buy one of his prints, head over to the John Free Photography website here.

(via Reddit)