Slow down and capture fewer images, says street photographer John Free


posted Monday, February 1, 2016 at 2:31 PM EDT

"One of the greatest pieces of advice when I was a marksmanship instructor - I was on the Marine Corps competition rifle team - and do you know what they taught us? Not to aim at the bullseye. You know, that crazy, but it's not crazy. The bullseye is a black round thing, your sights on the end of your rifle are balck and they get lost in the black and you can't see them. So they said aim for where it touches the white, just under, and adjust your sights two clicks up so the bullet strikes dead center. Now you can see your sights in the white, you know where your sights are. It's unbelievable! It's like telling people not to take pictures. Like I'm telling you. Walk slower, don't take many pictures, and don't take any more easy shots. If you go by that one, you're going to go up tenfold." This is the first piece of advice Los Angeles-based social documentary/street photographer John Free gives in a video by Ted Forbes.

He goes on to say that with his camera, he's going to narrow down all of the "facts" that he sees, he eliminates the facts of the scene that don't go with the "center of interest" of a potential image. Each image is always about the center of interest, including elements that contribute to it and eliminating elements that don't. As a street photographer, Free needs to be making these decisions not only very quickly, but with the busy city streets of Los Angeles constantly changing, he needs to see into the future and predict people's movements before they happen if he wants to capture the best images. Further, you can't be afraid to fail, says Free.

For more from John Free, see the videos below of a lesson that John Free gave to Ted Forbes and a video John published of street photography tips, respectively.

To see more of John Free's work and lessons, visit his website and his YouTube channel.

(Seen via Reddit /r/photography