1. You Won't Be Slowed Down
I don't take street photographs every day, so on the days that I get the urge to shoot, I go all in. If the weather is solid I can spend 2-3 hours walking around... If I'm visiting a new city I can shoot for 6-8 hours... Most people don't have that same drive. I've noticed that when I shoot with others my sessions are cut down to about an hour. Of course, this depends on who you go shoot with, but I'm pretty confident in saying that most don't put in the same effort as myself.
2. Your Shot Is YOUR SHOT
Moments on the street are rare and if you keep good company around you then it's likely you'll be going for the same shot. This sucks because you'll probably scare the subject away. I don't know about you all, but I'm not use to 2 or 3 cameras in my face. Another outcome is that you end up with the same shot. One of the beautiful things about street photography is that your shot is unique, but it's not as special if someone has the exact same photograph in their portfolio.
3. You Can Make Mistakes
I'll never forget my street session with my friend Chris (@PhotoVentureBoy). We traveled to Cleveland together and photographed in the downtown area for about 5 hours. We're two different kinds of photographers, he's more concerned with symmetry, composition, and light, while I'm more focused on expressions and reactions. Early on in the session, I could tell that Chris wasn't confident in my shooting style. We'd be walking side by side and then I'd just lift my camera, snap a picture and continue to walk, as this happened a few times he was like "You shoot weird as fuck".
It's true I do, but I'm willing to bet all street photographers shoot differently. There is no blueprint in street photography, there's no wrong way to shoot, but they're some unwritten rules that people live by. A good example of this is chimping. You're not supposed to chimp during street photography, if you go on a photo walk with me and you constantly look at your camera after each shot I'll cringe, because I learned differently, but in the same token if that's your style then you have to go with whatever process you're comfortable with.
My point is that when you're alone you can make "mistakes". You can have an awkward approach to street photography... It doesn't matter if you shoot from the hip or if you shoot behind your back, all the matters in the image captured... If it's a good one people really don't care how you got it.
4. You Don't Have To Compose Twice
Like myself, most street photographers shoot wide. I'd gauge where all between 24mm and 35, with a few of us shooting 40mm. With that being said, we can get a lot into the frame. When you're shooting with a friend it's likely they'll be in it as well. See that photo above? The guy to the left is a buddy of mine, now he wasn't trying to sabotage my photograph, but he legit had nowhere else to go. In this particular photo I'd say he helped fill the frame, but if I continued to shoot and he was in all of my images from that day then the session would start to look staged... or someone uninteresting to the viewer.
Whenever you shoot with someone you have the possibility of them A, being in your photo, or B. ruining the photo. We already discussed A, so let's touch on B. Most of my shots are taken on the sidewalk, they also require the subject to walk towards my camera, if a lady is walking towards me and two guys are just standing there waiting for her it's likely she'll take a different route, if she does continue down our path then it's likely she'll walk around us, as a sidewalk isn't built for a large group of people. I've had this happen so many times, in these situations, I either have to settle for a side profile image or completely miss the photograph.
5. You're Not Distracted
What happens when a 2 or more photographers get together? They talk about gear. Photography is lonely, so when you find someone like minded it's natural to just get everything out, as the chance may not come again for a while. This is hands down the main reason why I opt out of most sessions. It's not because the conversation is annoying, it's because I thoroughly enjoy it. I can talk for days. It's to the point now where I just go into any group session with the intention of talking gear or process. Of course, there are other types of distractions, off the top of my head food is one. I'm not against eating, but taking a 30-minute break to hit up subway can alter your mood, the last thing you want to do is to get tired or unmotivated
And that's it, the 5 reasons I don't shoot with other people. I know this list sounds a bit overzealous, but at least one of these things happens when I photograph with other people. Of course, there are some benefits to shooting with others as well, I'll make sure to put that list together for you all before the year ends. In the meantime, I want to know you position on this, are you pro-group or a loner when it comes to shooting street? Let me know in the comments.