Rules of the Road
My exploration of “street art” follows certain well-established rules. True, these are rules that I made up. As far as I know, there are no “rule enforcers” charged with maintaining street art standards. But as a consummate rule-follower from way back, I like having established guidelines within which to operate.
- To qualify as “street art”, the item must be found on the street. Is this too obvious? Although to be clear, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks also meet the criteria as they are asphalt or concrete surfaces. I do try to be flexible.
- The item cannot be moved and must be photographed in situ –meaning” in its original place”. This rule partly derives from the fact that I have always wanted to use the phrase ”in situ” in a sentence. But really, this principle is part of the fun and challenge. Unlike still lifes, where I will arrange items in a pleasing composition, the beauty of street art is a direct result of the random and arbitrary nature of its existence. There is no planning involved but instead you must learn to take advantage of what is presented in the moment.
- While the item must be shot in its original place, I may remove distracting dirt or other detritus in post-processing. I know – rules 2 and 3 are slightly contradictory in nature. But, after all, these ARE my rules and I reserve the right to contradict myself.
While it is always my goal to get a good shot in camera, most of my street art images are enhanced in Photoshop. After performing my normal edits in Adobe RAW and cropping as needed, I will experiment with various Photoshop actions, seeking to find the look that supports my vision for that particular image. My all-time favorite actions are “Old-West” and “Lovely and Ethereal” by Pioneer Woman. These actions add a warm, dramatic look that intensifies the highlights and shadows, lending an otherworldly quality to the result.
And yes, there are times when I feel like I am “cheating” by using actions developed by someone else to enhance my images. I know there are many purists who believe only in images straight out of camera and I greatly admire their work. But for me, I enjoy the creativity of post-processing and feel that my images are better for it.
Do you have rules that you follow in your photography? What rules do you let yourself break?