Street photography: 5 great tips for beginners
Street photography, like any other discipline of documentary reporting, is one of the most demanding disciplines since in addition to a quick control of the camera, it requires certain personal qualities such as empathy and audacity. But luckily, even if it’s not your forte, you can get closer to people more easily without provoking violent situations, with practice. Here are some techniques to successfully get started in street photography and get the most out of your street photo shoots.
Street photography: 5 great tips for street photography
1. Look for a photogenic location
If you plan to do street photography in the city, opt for a central and busy area: these places are usually full of tourists with cameras and you will attract less attention. In a village, it’s different. You must test your sociability skills and you will leave with the advantage of quickly becoming known to the neighborhood if you are friendly and explain your intentions clearly. You will be able to photograph people spontaneously with success. It will also happen that you want to capture urban landscapes or take architectural shots and in these cases, it will also be necessary that the place chosen has a certain photographic interest.
2. Choose interesting subjects for your photos
Walls with graffiti, buildings, portraits of individuals, scenes of everyday life, reflections in a window… These are very recurring subjects in street photography, which you can start to deal with during your outings. in the street. Although when we talk about street photography, we mainly talk about documentary photos of people, you may prefer to photograph old store fronts or details with a more closed focal length. Moving vehicles are also a valuable resource that will serve you well for a spinning effect as well as for luminous trails at night. Anyway, exploiting the street is your business, each photographer has his own point of view, his own sensitivity.
3. Arm yourself with patience for the “decisive moment”
Spontaneous street scenes are very satisfying but before obtaining something interesting, it will be necessary to be patient until photographing the opportune moment. The great documentary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called the decisive moment this precise and unique moment that a photographer should capture on a documentary shot. He said on this subject: “You have to put the eye, the head and the heart in the same place”.
You can achieve this by looking for a setting with potential and once you’ve chosen your scene, wait for something to happen. In most cases, unexpected situations will surprise you. Take the opportunity to immortalize this magical moment. Avoid photographing people from behind because a back doesn’t add much to the message, not to mention that it will harm the composition. Position yourself in places where you will have access to people from the front or in profile.
4. Ask permission depending on the situation
In most cases for street photography, you don’t need to ask people’s permission before taking a shot because otherwise you risk taking magic from the moment you interrupt the spontaneous action. But there are times when your presence will be so obvious that you’ll feel like you’ll have to ask permission before making your take. In the latter case, ask your model to continue doing what he was doing and forget the camera, plus take the opportunity to take as many photos as you want.
5. Try to go as unnoticed as possible
Photographing people with a film lens can be a real invasion: even if standing at a distance seems to keep you safe, the opposite is the case because no one likes to feel like the prey of a paparazzi. Better to choose an appropriate context and take photos at wider angle focal lengths, safe from suspicion, such as the DZO Film lens, a compact and bright lens that allows you to encompass a large part of the scene.
To practice street photography, and go unnoticed, you can support your camera on a tripod, choose a frame, place a shutter cable and with the marks marked by the limits of the frame, shoot with the cable while turning your gaze elsewhere. Only you will know that you will be taking pictures.
Another technique is to calculate the hyperfocal distance and shoot without looking, so the photos will be sharp. The difficulty of this technique lies in the need to know the angle provided by the focal length because you will not have any visual reference.
As you can see, the street is full of situations, people and corners worth capturing with your camera. You never know what you’re going to find, which is why street photography is one of the most exciting and stimulating photo disciplines to develop your creativity. We hope these 4 tips will help you immerse yourself in this fascinating world.