Documentary event photography and street photography

I believe that street photography is one of the most exciting and important genres of photography in the world today.

Anyone who knows me well will probably be aware of my love for street photography. When I’m not busy working I’ll regularly be found, camera in hand, scrutinising the streets of London or perhaps the South Coast – simply watching the details of life as they happen and hunting for my next street image. Street photography is, quite simply, photographing anything or anyone that catches your eye. It’s something I love doing. The thrill of taking seemingly mundane moments, and with the click of a button changing them into a photographic narrative or giving them a surreal twist, is a buzz that continues to excite. It’s also the most accessible form of photography there is – anyone can do it. You just need a camera and a place to go.

The more you do street photography, the more you feel that your eyes have been opened. You’re alert to the details of life in a new way. I love the quotation by Dorothea Lange: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”. I think this is certainly true within street photography. It changes the streets from being a monotonous blur of commuter routes to being a photographer’s playground – I place where I can experiment and advance my craft. No-one is commissioning me here, and I have no rules or agenda to follow – it’s just the freedom to learn about myself as a photographer.

It teaches us how to look. It shows us how to pay attention to the details that may otherwise have passed us by. It teaches us about ourselves too. What do we find ourselves looking for? What catches our attention? When I have free reign as a photographer, what images appeal to me the most? These are things that will be different for every photographer.

You may be wondering why I am talking about my street photography on an event photography website.

Well, when I’m working on commission as an event photographer, what I’ve learned from street photography remains at the very heart of the work I produce.

Just like on the street, I want to tell a story. I want my photographs to have a beautiful and interesting narrative, and most importantly – I want it to be a true story. It’s this true story that I want to be remembered – and it’s up to me to record it, not to write it myself. I don’t want to manipulate my surroundings for the sake of my photographs. I love to search for the true details and genuine expressions, and for the tiniest and grandest moments to be faithfully recorded. 

Just like on the street, I’ll need to stay alert. It’s an almost fluid, continuous process of staying focussed on your surroundings. Predicting the potential images on an almost continual basis, and having the camera ready to catch it at a moment’s notice. If there’s something else street photography has taught me, it’s that you have to predict the shots and be ready before they happen. This is not easy, and it’s something I’ve learned on the streets more than anywhere else. You never know when a moment will come, and if you’re not already prepared, the chance will have gone.

Of course, there are also many differences – as a wedding photographer, for example, I will have a whole list of specific shots I know I must take. I’ll know that I need to be at certain places at certain times to catch these. I’ll possibly have group shots to do. There’s an order and structure to my day that I wouldn’t have as a street photographer – and much as I prefer to remain unobtrusive, I may need to exercise some control when the time is needed. If it means the difference between getting the shots my clients want and not, then I know when to step in. Of course, this would never be necessary (or indeed appropriate) when shooting candidly on the street.

But the street photographer side of things is always a constant for me. When I’m out shooting the streets, I don’t think of myself as an event photographer. But when I am working as a event photographer – the street photographer side of me will still very much be there. It’s rooted in the way I think, and the approach to every shot I take. It’s what gives my photographs the edge I’m looking for.

And indeed, street photography is simply recording life. And that’s exactly what I’d be doing at your event too.

I am a documentary wedding and event photographer in Surrey and Sussex, and can travel all across the UK to photograph on commission at weddings, parties, ceremonies, charity functions, balls, gigs, festivals – you name it. If you would like me to bring the vitality and intuitive eye that street photography has taught me to your event, then I’d be delighted to provide a considerate, unobtrusive event and wedding photography service for you.

Here are a few examples of my street photographs. You can buy prints of my work and see more by visiting my street photography website here.

The Rain
Winter Garden
A Friendly Greeting
Flying High
Stand in Line
Stride and Spoke
A Ride through the Shadows
Tate Runner
Waiting for Bananaman
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    Let's record the real memories of your event.

    Chris Silk is an event and documentary wedding photographer based on the Surrey and West Sussex border, near London, UK.
    With Surrey Event Photography, Chris provides candid and unobtrusive event coverage at competitive prices to suit a range of budgets. He is available for commission work throughout the UK including London, Surrey, Sussex and the South East.


    Chris is also an award-winning street photographer, and his work can be seen here.

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    Telephone: 07933 06 00 96