A Guide to Street Photography 5 years ago

Its hard to exactly define what is street photography. This article originally by Eric Kim gives some good pointers though.

In it Eric shares some insights and experiences in street photography in terms of what not to do.

Hopefully this will help you get more compelling images when out on the streets!

Read the full article here.

 

Tatsuo-Suzuki - Girl - Street Photography

Girl by Tatsuo Suzuki

 

Don’t shoot standing up

When you are shooting street photography, crouching allows you to get a more interesting and dynamic angle.”

 

Don’t shoot street performers or the homeless

The reason I don’t like shooting street performers and the homeless are because it is rare you will get a compelling or unique image. Not only that, but it is too easy. Street performers have their photo taken all the time, and aren’t challenging to take photos of. The homeless are a bit different—we try to highlight their suffering in order to make an interesting image. I believe it is better to take an extraordinary photo of someone ordinary than take an ordinary photo of someone extraordinary.”

 

Lines

Lines by Hiroki

 

Don’t spend more time researching gear than shooting photos

You don’t need a Leica camera to get compelling images. Learn how to get comfortable with your DSLR or point and shoot and capture life through your lens.”

 

Don’t ask others what they like about your images

Sure it is nice to have people compliment your images and give you positive feedback and of course. But all of that stuff doesn’t mean much in the end. I have a simple suggestion: when you post a photo and you want helpful/harsh critique, be very open and transparent about it.”

 

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 Girl in the Tube by JPPimenta

 

Don’t waste time focusing

Rather than wasting time on manual focusing or autofocus, simply use zone focusing. If you are unfamiliar with the technique, it is setting your camera to a pre-set focusing distance (ie 1 meter or 2 meters) and selecting a high f-stop with a large depth of field (ie f/11 or f/16). If you shoot consistently a certain distance away from your subject, this will ensure that your photo will always be reasonably sharp and in-focus.”

 

Don’t rush yourself

If you see an interesting background, beam of light, or potential photo-opportunity, wait for the right person to enter your scene and capture the moment. Good things happen to those who wait.”

 

waiting

 Waiting by Paul Greenwood

 

Don’t constantly change focal lengths

Less is more. Having more options just makes us frustrated and prevents us from focusing. Although I am a huge advocate for experimenting with different type of street photography styles, focal lengths, gear, and projects—there is a point in which you need some consistency. Having too many cameras and lenses only inhibits your artistic creativity—by stressing you out. Feel free to experiment, but once you find what suits you the best don’t waver too much! Many of the well-known and established photographers shot with mostly one focal length for their entire careers: Henri Cartier Bresson and a 50mm, Bruce Gilden with a 28mm, Josef Koudelka + David Alan Harvey + Alex Webb with a 35mm.”

 

Don’t shoot without knowing why you shoot

Whenever you go out on the streets, you should have a reason why you shoot. Whether it be for pleasure, whether it be for documenting humanity, whether it be a personal project, or something that drives you.”

 

 Untitled by Toni

 

Don’t be slow when shooting

If you are slow when shooting on the streets, you will often miss the decisive moment. When you are out on the streets, learn to spot a potential photo-opportunity from a fair distance away, approach your subject, crouch (or not), snap the photo, smile, and go on.”

 

Don’t upload photos everyday

Less is more. Quality over quantity.”

 

The-wrong-way-mario-mencacci

The Wrong Way by Mario Mencacci

 

 Add you comments below and we can build on this guide to street photography.

 

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GuestGuestGuestRob Hill

Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying "unmanipulated" scenes, with usually unaware subjects.

 

5 Comments

 

  1. January 30, 2013  12:13 am by Fernando Pires Coelho

    Some nice tips :)

  2. February 11, 2013  10:15 pm by Thomas Cremers

    Some nice tips here. I would really like to pick out the focus point he makes. I use a Leica and a X100 for my street work. I have my X100 always on manual focus, it has a perfect scale on it that will show what will be in focus. Setting the lens on f11 of f16 and a sane average and you never have to wait for the AF which makes the camera responsive and you don't have to think about it.
    Even my Leica, an M8, I use in full manual mode. I know I can work fast with a shutter of 125/s I adjust my f-stop and focus accordingly. Capturing the moment trumps depth of field for me at every point.

  3. March 2, 2013  9:59 pm by Allan Hamilton

    “Don’t shoot street performers or the homeless.”

    I hear this precept and the reasoning behind it repeated in many street photography discussions. As logical as it seems to me on the surface, I can’t adhere to it. Here’s why:

    I am an illustrator first, and a photographer second, a close second. I understand and value the Western Art premise of "Ars gratia artis" but I also understand and try to live up to a much older ideal of art for purpose.

    When I head out to shoot, my prime intention is to tell the story of a community, not through photojournalism but through street photography; a genre that deliberately ignores the strict rules of photojournalism by adding greater freedom of artistic creativity and expression. Street photography is a perfect genre to be included in an illustrator’s repertoire because that’s what illustration is about, conveying stories usually through 2D images. Street performers and the homeless are bona fide aspects of most communities in the world; it’s been that way for literally thousands of years. It seems illogical to me to disregard them if one’s intent is to tell the story of a community from the 19th century onward.

    As I have said before ( http://themofman.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/the-unrepentant-flaneurs-guide-to-street-photography-part-7/ ), with specific regards to the homeless, it’s never a focus of mine to go out and photograph them but I have occasionally come across situations in which I absolutely had to document that specific example of life in a city. I took the shot, and I’ll do it again if the “decisive moment” is right. On the flip-side, I’ve deliberately overlooked far more of such instances because I am sure that taking those shots would only be gratuitous, not practical, which leads to that other intent of mine.

    With homeless photography, specifically, I hope and act to make such shots be inspirations and motivations for real change in homelessness and poverty in general. I like the idea of my art, illustration or photography, actually contributing in any way toward the betterment of people other than by just being impressive to look at and maybe garnering a little external validation for my ego.

    I also don’t get it when people say that photographing the homeless is too easy. It is not easy. It’s as physically dangerous as trying to shoot pretty much anyone on the street that can be potentially violent in their objections to one’s attempts. Apart from the physical dangers, photographing the homeless is one of the biggest ethical debates going in photography and civil liberties circles. Buskers and other street performers aren’t easy to shoot either when they expect you to pay them and you’re short on cash or when they argue that you can’t do squat with their picture without their written consent. I don’t shoot a lot of them either but if the situation is right, the shot is mine.

    Basically, I identify most with Eric’s other pointer, “Don’t shoot without knowing why you shoot.” I know precisely why I’m out there trying to document as many aspects of life as possible – with the exception of anything voyeuristic and merely sensational. It simply requires a shooter to make up his or her own mind.

  4. July 26, 2013  4:56 pm by Jaydeb Bhattacharya

    Street can be thought like Nerve of Place which changes its character according to the time & situation. If one has the keen eye then through street seen one can feel the pulse of a place.

  5. September 13, 2013  9:13 am by mark jones

    Some nice tips.

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