Why Street Photographers Should Take Pride In Their Turf

Turf is where one's personal geography and visual archives intercede.

My view on turf may not jive with other photographers' understanding of where they live versus where they spend a majority of time taking their pictures. The two things are connected, like a moon gravitating around a planet. To talk of one isn't necessarily a dismissal of the other.

Using this same analogy, a photographer's turf can be described as an astronaut's backyard, where he or she trains for her space journeys and where this journey is meant to go: to space and beyond.

Turf is where one's personal geography and visual archives intercede

Reconciliation between a photographer's home - and where the majority of pictures are taken - is an ongoing process I imagine, at least for me. To take turf at face value isn't enough. Where I walk out the door isn't necessarily where I take a majority of my street photography shots. This may be the case for some of you, however.

To use another analogy, a street photographer could be a particular species who has a long-ranging territory. In Mumbai, I seldom take pictures directly outside in the neighborhood where I live. But that wasn't always the case. When I lived in another suburb, I would routinely start shooting almost immediately upon leaving my flat - and I would walk for hours in that area, camera always on, always shooting.

These days I will typically hop into a rickshaw and take off to the nearest destination, which could be within a mile but more often spans anywhere from one to five miles on average, with distant ranging of 15+ miles less frequently (and usually requiring a different mode of transport). I base these estimates off my image archive, my visual records.

Once you understand and have defined your turf, take pride in it

After all, there is no alternative unless you move, right? At least in street photography, where turf can also be thought of as the places most convenient to photograph. This shouldn't be thought of in a negative light, at least not as a default attitude. You are where you are, until further notice, take pride in where you shoot, in what you share with people. You could be the only one doing it, or one of few presenting people and spaces in unique ways. Make it your own, visually. It's your turf. Take pride in it. End of story.

There is an alternative, actually. The alternative is you don't take pride in it. Which begs the question, why bother at all? The ultimate litmus test will be on display in your photography. For without pride, there is no good art.

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