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Why Small Town Street Photography Has the Upper Hand

When you think of street photography, you probably instantly think of New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles, and it’s safe to say, Kingsport, TN, or any other small town, is undoubtedly far from the forefront of thought. Many people or photographers think you have to be a part of these big cities to build a portfolio of great street photography shots, and that’s not the case. The truth is, however, those living outside of these over-saturated areas have the upper hand.

Places like New York City are overwhelmed with street photographers; it feels like there are three or four for every street corner. When you have that many photographers shooting, competition can be very competitive. When you live in a small town or smaller city, you have very little competition, if any, which allows you to have an opportunity to have a unique portfolio with subjects that will help you stand out as a photographer.

For example, let's say you live in Nebraska, farms surround you, and your downtown is relatively deserted, but there is your occasional foot traffic. You have an opportunity to document small-town life and show off the scenery and loneliness. Having one person in frame with empty streets can make a huge statement. Reach out to the farmers, offer to give them copies of the photos, and follow them as they work throughout the day. You will come away with some spectacular shots that document some of the hardest workers in the country. This kind of portfolio would really stand out above daily shots of people on busy streets. Every town is unique; you just need to embrace what you have. No one can show off where you live better than you. You know it inside and out, and what seems normal to you may feel very unique and different to many others.

Street photography is a broad term and relates to a more open documentary style of photography with few to no rules. In my opinion, it should be renamed to fit a broader perspective. Life photography is more fitting because that’s what you are essentially capturing: a moment in life. If you adopt this mindset, it will open up how you start to see your subjects. I want to encourage you to grab your camera and go on a photo walk or drive. If you are in a rural area, an afternoon drive can also provide unique opportunities. Don’t let not being in a big city hold you back; get out there and start shooting.

Below are a small collection of “street” photos from my small spot on the globe that are unique to my area. I would consider these to be just a small glimpse of life in Northeast Tennessee.

Thanks for reading, now head over to my Instagram account (JTM71) and follow along my photography journey.

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