How Street Photography helped me become a better designer

"Taking pictures increases your capacity to visualize things in a more dimensional and efficient way"
January 2, 2020

Every time you´re facing a design challenge, there is a moment where you have nothing more than a mix of ideas, and depending on the project, those ideas could come from different sources, a team, your own experience, maybe a brief or a wall filled with hundreds of references. After that phase, your mission as a designer is to organize all that previous work into something that achieves the goals of the project, it´s at that moment where I´ve found that photography has helped me to develop my vision as a designer, something that I´ve called "fragmented focus".

When you´re on the streets holding your camera there are a million things happening at once, just as with a mood board filled with 100 ideas, and you find yourself having to be open to all of them at the same time that you are filtering in search of "The meaning amid the chaos". This simple exercise of being out on the streets as an observer of your surroundings will train your brain to filter things faster, at the same time your pushing your physical body to withstand the discomfort of shooting while rain is pounding on your face or in my case being out in the freezing streets of NYC in the mid-January.

The power of abstracting things

Now you are out with your camara, you start looking for the perfect shot and there it is, a guy doing a willy with his skate. Now the tricky part, as with design, that is your call to action and in fractions of a second your mission is to get that guy in focus, excluding all secondary things. Again, an exercise that will train you to identify visually important things and omit others depending on their relevance. Your tools, in this case, are the light, the depth of field, the speed and the composition. Fortunately, when designing you have more tools available, such as, spacing, color, font size, image ratio and time.

One of the most critical factors when talking about a design project and the one that I truly believe you can improve on by taking pictures is increasing your capacity to visualize things in a more dimensional and efficient way. Another aspect street photography has helped me on to become a better designer is to communicate an idea verbally in seconds, yes, verbally. During a couple of weeks, I went out on the streets of NYC with the idea of taking portraits of random people, just as an exercise to break that barrier that every human has of being rejected. Yes, I got rejected in the beginning, at least 80% of the time, but day by day I improved my technique and pitch and began convincing more and more people to let me take their picture. Through persistance and dedication I improved my communication skills to transmite an idea efficiently in seconds.

Which brings me to you, I invite you to try this to get a different perspective and challenge yourself in new ways. Go out and shot and let me know how it goes!

January 2, 2020

How Street Photography helped me become a better designer