Photo comes first 5

I remember leaving Instagram in January of last year. Meanwhile I had also deleted my Facebook account a few months ago. At the time when I had done it, I had hinted that I will surely come back in a few weeks or even a few months on Instagram, because I sensed that the desire to come back was going to be stronger than anything. Since then, 12 months have passed. What about today ? Have I decided to come back to social networks ?



So, I’m not going to let any 2 cents suspense hang over this. As much to tell you right away, I have no intention of coming back to Instagram and even less to Facebook. The more the days pass, the more I tell myself that it was the right move to do. Recently John Harper wrote a blog where he talked about photographic style. This desire that every photographer has to have his work recognized in the blink of an eye. Why this research ? I find it a bit restrictive to do only one style of photography. I will have the impression of repeating myself and I will find it annoying. For a long time, we defined my work to close-up with a hyper-contrast black and white processing. Since then I have done more colors and I have a preference for street scenes. From time to time I come back to black and white … I am not assiduous in a particular style.



Some will say that I have no style of my own and that my work is not consistent. You know what ? I am going very well. I don’t care if I don’t have my own style. It’s not what I’m looking for. Regarding my photos, I don’t care if people don’t recognize my work. I much prefer that people enjoy the photos without knowing who is the author of the photos. We have been witnessing for several years a starisation of street photographers. In fact since the social media advent. It’s no longer enough to make good photos. The most important thing is to build a name. I would even say more a brand or a label ! We tend to forget it, but the most important thing is the photo, not the guy who took it.



Are people who flood social networks with photos aware of this ? We frantically share more than enough to feed the social beast. You have to be at the forefront, make the news to be visible. It is to be wondered in the end if we only take photos to post them on our Instagram or Facebook account. Millions and millions of photos are shared every day on the internet. Don’t ask me how to stand out. I have no idea and I don’t care. This two cents recognition of social networks never interested me. In absolute terms, I would like some of my photos to survive me. For example that my work on Aix en Provence, will be discovered in several years by people who live in this city. Let these people find out what their city looked like decades ago. This is what I would like. For the rest I don’t really care.



Let my photos end up in the public domain without mentioning my name. It sounds extreme, but I repeat it again. The photo is more important than the one who took it. In any case, that’s how I see things. Some will say that it is a lack of ambition. But from my point of view, it depends on why you are doing street photography.



All the photographs were made with the Ricoh GRD4

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5 thoughts on “Photo comes first

  • John Harper

    I’m not sure that anyone can do Street Photography unless they love it and live for it, that applies to any photography in fact. It’s a life’s work, not something to play around with for a few months hoping to get a following on Social Media. It has to be practiced continually. Style is irrelevant, it’s often there lurking if you know a photographer well enough, it’s obvious who shot it. Really, as I said in that blog post, it’s not crucial. They tell new photographers to work on a Style and I suppose having one gives coherence to someones work. What is important though is making the photograph.

    Man, they’re all good, but that last shot is superb!!

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      I do think like you or I hope that you need to live for street photography to make it right. But my point is that I’m pretty sure that some photographers have lost themselves in social media. Their intent is not the same. It has become a mechanical thing or worst a hunt for the glory shot because these photos will give them their daily dose on likes on social media. The question is : is the photography the motive or just a way to achieve what you want?
      Another question would be : if you couldn’t show your photos to anyone anymore. Would you continue to Photograph ?

      • John Harper

        That’s a good question. You have to consider the whole process. It’s calming to make photos, living in the moment is therapeutic, that’s the most enjoyable part for me. I watched a Don McCullin documentary the other day. He’s 83 and says the camera drives him to keep going, the act of going out to make photos. His favourite place on the planet is his dark room where he spends six hours at a time.

        I want to see my results and it’s a bonus if I like them. I’ve always said that I prefer looking at others work. I’m happier studying that last shot of yours than anything I‘ve ever shot. Photos are made to be seen. Whether someone decides to show them or not is down to the photographer. There is the other side which is Social Media and can be likened to feeding an addiction. Validation is the drug, the need to be liked and for some a misplaced belief that they’ll become famous. Sometimes and rarely for me lately, you get paid to take photos and they’re made to seen by others. It’s a complex question you posed Jeff…we’re going to London for the day so I need to go now. I’ll be taking my camera and enjoy every second of it. Afterwards I’ll decide what I’ll share with others.

        • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

          I think that i’m happy enough with little people seeing my work. I care about some people’s craft. As I already told you, I still have a look to some street photographers Instagram feed. Less than 10 people. It’s enough for me. The thing is that these people are photographers I consider friends even if I haven’t met all of them. Let’s say that there is some kind of connection. On the other side if less than 10 people I really care about See my work, that’s enough for me. I don’t know if you can understand what I mean. Anyway, have a nice stay in London. Terrific place. You could meet Wayne La. He shoots weddings and street. Very good photographer!

          Cheers John!

          • John Harper

            I understand exactly what you mean.We’re up in London just for a day trip. I know of Wayne La through Instagram, he does some interesting wedding photography.

            Have a good week, hope that back gets better.