Repeat That Please!
Street photography is often about making connections. Everywhere you look you should be looking for connections between your subjects and their surroundings. The connection can be obvious or subtle, literal or abstract, tenuous or direct; it just needs to be there. It is these connections that can make great street photographers stand apart from good ones-just look at the work of Joel Meyerowitz for proof.
Using repetition in street photography is great fun and can produce striking results, but to understand why we like it so much, we need to dip into a little theory. The Gestalt law of similarity suggests that repetition, or similarity, occurs when objects, shapes, forms, colors, or textures look enough alike to be perceived as a group or pattern in the viewer’s mind. Any of these different elements, when occurring in an image, offer the viewer a sense of rhythm and will connote harmony, thus making them linger on the image for longer.
Apply this principle to your street photographs by producing six images based on the idea of repetition. To make your mini-series hang together you might want your images to share a common theme.
View the images
- Look for repeating objects (dogs, empty bottles, bicycles, anything!), colors, gestures, or patterns, and once you have that “connection;’ you have the basis for a strong image.
- To prevent repetition from becoming boring, look for ways to break a pattern (imagine a picture of a market stall with one red apple among rows and rows of green apples).
- You’ll be quicker to react if you use a wrist strap, as it means your camera will always be in your hand, with your finger hovering near the shutter-release button.
- Observe people’s body language and try to predict what they’ll do next.
- Don’t forget to use this technique for abstracts as well; repeating patterns can provide a strong, graphic element.