waveOur friend Henri Cartier-Bresson told us that when it comes to our photography there are only questions. No answers, only questions.

Try asking some questions to your photographic being in a rational manner, if it is possible to be rational when thinking about your photography. Rational thought in such a creative endeavor? Most of my photos are planned and executed in a rational manner, as far as intent and performance at making a meaningful and very expressive photograph is concerned. I try to think like a machine and remember all the steps there are to be looked at and considered and all those thoughts that the subject brings to mind in that quick impulsive instant when the subject is in the right balance to my mind and emotion and makes the most sense to me.

Is that what I do, I asked myself. The answer was disturbing to me at first, because the answer to the question I posed to myself was answered in the negative. No, that’s not what the game is to me. The game is what will the viewer of my photograph see or feel? There is a big difference here in my job as I know it to be. My job is to convey something of value to the viewer, not to me. My performance with the camera and mind is for them. Always for them, never for me. Hopefully my photograph will speak to them or move them in some way and if that is true then the photograph I made is very good for me, in knowing that it might have provided something of value for them, always for them.

I found friendship in an unlikely place where I met a man with a wave. It was hard for me to understand his smile as he sat in filth in a freight car headed to unknown places in his life. We were true friends for about 3 seconds as his ride in a gondola car passed under the bridge and gone. I was at a limited vantage point and knew that I must include details that would provide enough information to the viewer, so as to better understand the intent of my photograph.

Photography has brought me to many heart wrenching yet beautiful pleasures for my heart. Photography has allowed me to share these special moment with you and for all.

This entry was posted in Social Documentary/Street Photography, Street Photography Tips.


  1. Johanna December 22, 2017 at 2:31 am #

    Hi John

    Im a mature Welsh student at University of South Wales, UK. I am studying a degree in photography, I hope to choose the genre of street for my final major project, due to being inspired by your work. Do you have any books for sale that you have written ?, I can’t seem to find anything on the internet.

    Regards Jo

    • John Free January 31, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      No I don’t have any books but I encourage you to view my videos on YouTube

  2. Hardin Piepers November 21, 2017 at 4:00 am #

    Your street photography is excellent!!

  3. Randy March 6, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

    “The game is what will the viewer of my photograph see or feel”

    I am very interested to know why you feel this way. Is it because photography is your vocation? Or is it because you in essence already experienced the emotion by being there, and the only function of the photograph is to convey that emotion to someone else?

  4. tchoupomoting October 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm #


    I wanted to say I highly appreciate your blog and your videos on youtube. And thank you for the time and effort you put to make street photography a real form of art.

    Best regards

  5. michael R Belleviile July 22, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    Hello John,

    I hope this email finds you well. I feel as though we are connected spirits. I must start by telling you that I am 54 yrs old and I was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s 2 years ago. I do not ask for sympathy. I could go on and on about myself and my story but I won’t, rather I would ask for your advise in what I can can do to telll my story. I would LOVE to leave a legacy for my children and my grandchildren to look over. I have always wanted to be a photographer by trade, but that didn’t happen. I provided for my family as best I could. However now that I am nearing the end of my journey, I would love to leave them a legacy of who I am. I believe I can do this by sttreet photography. I have been shooting since my teens, I know how too shoot in manual and I am comfortable with how to set up my camera and let it do what iot needs to do. That said, I feel what I need help in is telling a story, the framing, the 5F’s that you speak of. I live in Massachusetts so I don’t think I could get to LA to one of youe workshops, so I was hoping that you may have one that I can view online. I am early in the disease so I know I have time ti chronicle a story. I jst want to make that story the best that I can.

    Thank you
    Michael r Belleville

  6. Russ June 27, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    In my personal work, I shoot for myself. If an image I make resonates or touches a viewer in some way great. If our image elicits no response from the viewer, that’s alright too. We all have kindred spirits that see and feel in similar ways as we do.

    We make our images in order to share a bit of our world with others. We shoot from the heart. And when we are true to our heart and vision, it will come through in our photographs.

    Russ Butner.

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