Push And Pull Street Photography

At The Waterfront © Knut Skjærven

At The Waterfront (PULL) © Knut Skjærven

I am sure you know the difference.  Maybe you have an attitude to it as well.

You either push your way or you pull your way. The two terms are normally used in marketing where you talk about a push or a pull strategy.

When you push you push and when you pull you pull. Easy as that. You can push someone out the door or you can pull someone into your house.

We want to use the two expressions in street photography and talk about push street photography and pull street photography. Or for short just PUSH and PULL.

The difference is a question of attitude.  Some say respect as well.

Of course you can do combinations of the two but as attitudes often are integrated on a personal level, you seldom do. You either do one or the other.

What do PUSH and PULL mean in terms of street photography?

When you do pull street photography you wait for a situation to unfold and thereby let the scene come to you.  Pull photography is descriptive street photography. Standing on a corner and with you camera observing people coming and going is pull street photography.

When you do push street photography you push your way around and with your interaction you create the scene you shoot. The situation does not come to you. You make it. Jumping from behind a phone booth or from behind a corner sticking your camera in the face of somebody is push photography. In the worst of cases it is harassment of your fellow men and you could get in serious trouble for it.

Your choice really.

The photo above is an example of pull street photography. No interaction.

Terms to remember: push street photography or simply PUSH, and pull street photography or simply PULL.

August 13, 2013.
© Knut Skjærven. All right reserved.


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  1. #1 by Jimmy ;D on August 13, 2013 - 6:49 pm

    Push and pull are very familiar in my line of work, but it is the first time i’ve heard it in the context of street photography. I like it.

    • #2 by Knut Skjaerven on August 16, 2013 - 1:21 pm

      Many thanks, Jimmy. I try find useful angles that will help me understand street photography. Good weekend to you.

  2. #3 by Photos close to home on August 13, 2013 - 8:21 pm

    Nice metaphor.

  3. #4 by Sheila Archer on August 14, 2013 - 1:37 am

    When I shot film, it was used to push or pull the exposure of the film.

    • #5 by Knut Skjaerven on August 16, 2013 - 1:19 pm

      Thanks. Yes, there could be a comparison there :-).

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