Garry repeated often this phrase; every photograph is a battle of form versus content. The good ones are on the border of failure.
— Garry Winogrand

Every photograph consists of two things. Form and Content. What is the form? Well, plainly said, the form is complete visual appearance of the photo — composition, light, how shapes and structures inside the picture are relating to each other. How sharp or blurred photo is. Does it have the main subject? Or it has multiple subjects? How they interact inside the frame? The depth of field? And many more.

Content, on the other hand, is, what is actually in the photo. Is it a shot of a flower? Or a child playing? Celebrity? Or an overall shot of a bunch of people on the streets without any "main" subject. Is it a shot of one person. Does it have an interesting gesture or facial expression? Is the "subject" doing something interesting?

tits wash.JPG

If you want to have a good photo, you need to juggle and balance form and content all the time. You have great exciting content, but you are showing it poorly composed and cluttered? You have nothing. On the other side of a coin, you have great form; everything is straight, sharp and clear. Geometry, diagonals, composition, light-But, nothing is happening in the frame. No emotions, no gestures, no interesting subject(s). Bad luck. Boring stuff like millions of other images.

Many street photographers tend to fall more or less to one of these two sides. Either they have potentially great content, but they don't have the skill to frame and compose it properly. Or, on the other hand, they try so hard to compose and shoot pictures correctly, but nothing is happening in them. Of course, there are thousands of street photographers who have neither the form or content.


Because it's hard, I understand that. Especially if you aware of it. Ignorance is bliss, as it's said.

In street photography, this "battles" as Garry talked about are happening in milliseconds. You see potentially great content, you are trying to find the best angle, you are checking the edges of the frame, making small adjustments to the position of your camera and you are trying to click the shutter in the perfect moment. All of that in a fraction of time, when "content" is probably already gone.

And there are no magic shortcuts to learn how to do that successfully every time. No quick magic tutorial "Balancing the form and content" exist or will help you. Just repeating the process on the streets thousands and thousands of time than looking at your "contact sheets" at home and analyzing them. What you did right. And what you can do better — and then repeating the whole process a thousand times more.

power to the people.JPG

Are your pictures looking boring to you? Honestly?

If that's true, they are boring to the others also. It's a harsh truth. And you can overcome that only with your ass sweating on the streets with a camera around your neck. Ask the ghost of Garry Winogrand. He'll tell you the same.