If you are a photographer with some miles under your belt looking for some motivation or inspiration, stepping outside of the studio or set up shots, street photography can be a perfect way to shake things up. As an aspiring photography looking to broaden your photography skills or simply want to give it go then street photography is the perfect next step.
What is street photography?
Simply put street photography is a type of candid photography (taken without permission or knowledge of the subject) in an often busy urban environment. It more than frequently involves people outside going out their normal everyday routine. It, of course, does not necessarily have to be taken on the ‘street’ but also in an airport, restaurant, shopping mall.
Pushing past the fear of taking photographs of random people is a barrier most of us face. The only way to get over this is to head out and get shooting. It will feel uncomfortable and possibly awkward if you catch someone’s eye after the shutter has clicked. You might feel like your invading someone’s privacy and maybe even a little guilty. Try not to. If your intentions are true and you are capturing the magic around you or the natural art within your city, then get shooting. But capturing images of strangers is easier said than done. It is not surprising there are some people who would rather not have their photograph taken without permission. To avoid this, you can always ask permission before you, but remember this can impact the candid feel to your images.
In or out of the shadows?
Being an observer out of the shadows can get your creative choices flowing. Take yourself to a market where you can wander the edge peering in through the stalls and capture the hustle and bustle of the deals being made. Or why not try the park? Take a seat on a bench or by a tree, you can focus on the subjects backs around you as they walk away or at a more comfortable distance. A technique some people use is the ‘video camera’. After you have taken your shot to keep the camera to your eye and shoot again moving slightly left or right. This gives the illusion you are not focusing on a single subject but multiple.
Feeling more confident? Good. Now take your camera out of shadows. Try taking some shots on public transport or in a waiting room. You are putting yourself into the action and getting up close and personal with your subjects.
What to look for?
Every street photographer is striving for the ideal ‘kodak moment’. You only get one chance to capture that perfect moment where everything comes together. Essentially it all comes down to timing. But don’t let this put you off, this is when the magic happens. We suggest you try to focus on three things. Firstly, look for people’s real emotions. Break down the barriers to capture their raw emotions. Their happiness, loneliness, humour, or anxiety. Secondly, explore the contrast in your image. Whether this is between subjects; an elderly woman and young boy, Colours; a red dress on the green grass or Background; an advertisement for a holiday with a subject walking in front in the rain with an umbrella. Finally the small details. Focusing on the details instead of the whole picture means looking at their hands, feet, the wrinkle at the corner of someone’s eye when they laugh or the way someone’s bag blows in the wind. These small details can create the best street photography.
Forgotten your camera?
Out and about without your camera? Don’t panic smartphones are actually tailor-made for taking candid photographs of strangers. They’re small discreet and more than often always with you. Yes, we agree that the lack of optical zoom is a con here. However, take your smartphone and get super close. Become part of the action this is a huge positive. Sometimes it’s that intimate connection that really makes a difference in street photography.
Street photography is interesting, unpredictable and fun. Remember in street photography there are no rules, only suggestions. So feel free to pick and choose what you want to try and throw away the rest. Happy shooting!