A few tips and thoughts on street photography

I suppose the first question to ask oneself is what street photography really is. The obvious answer would be images taken at a street. Normally, this implies a street in a city and not just a random road in a small town. The images are also not supposed to be staged or posed, candid is the word here. I suppose one could boil it down into three categories, although there will of course always be plenty of exceptions.

1. People focus

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2. Environment focus

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3. The combination – arguably the “better” type.

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When I first went out to shoot, I realised that I had never really pointed my camera at a stranger before. I was surprised by how scary that would turn out to be. The first step was therefore really just to get over that feeling and actually dare to include people in the frame. A way to get past this was to shoot from the hip, using very high shutter speeds. As I have grown more and more comfortable I have quit doing so, and I don’t recommend using it too much as it makes framing virtually impossible. I do, however, think it is important not to be too snobby. Cropping is often crucial and sometimes heavy post processing is required to help missed exposures.

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At first you are happy for even daring to post the camera at a stranger in the street. The second time you might be happy you caught an interesting facial expression, an interaction between two passing byers, the ray of light hitting the street right where someone passes – the possibilities are endless. The more you go out to shoot, the more you will find.

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I think that to some extent street photography is even more subjective than some other sorts of photography in the way that the experience is so important alongside the final product. The thrill in getting the shot, the waiting game with the pedestrians is sometimes half the reason why you are out there.

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Often you don’t have all that time you do when you are out in the wild, taking landscape shots; you get what you get. Dare to max out that ISO if that is what you need to get the shot. Do walk right through that mass of people and photograph the ones passing by. Stand still in a street corner and try to find the candid scenes happening around you. Find an interesting composition and wait until a fitting person walks by.

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All in all, street photography is both my favourite and least favourite type of photography. At times it is uninspired and repetetive; at times it is fantastic.

/Martin

7 thoughts on “A few tips and thoughts on street photography

  1. This is an interesting one for me; I love ‘people watching’ but somehow taking photos seems intrusive and putting them online even more so. I’m not saying street photography is a bad thing per se, after all a lot of people do it, but just that I personally don’t know how to deal with it.
    Great photo of the birds eye perspective of the road junction … I’d have been happy (very happy!) to have taken that – not just because it’s a great shot but also because the person isn’t really recognisable.

    • Hi there πŸ™‚

      Hm, I guess I can agree with you about street photography perhaps being slightly intrusive, but do we really need to be that sensitive? To me it is important not to make people uncomfortable with my photographing them, if anything I am the one feeling uncomfortable. All I am doing is really just taking a photograph, nothing more, there isn’t anything magical about it these days and I can’t say my blog is very popular so at most a few random people from all-over the world will quickly glance at the photo and not linger more than necessary. All in all I wouldn’t call it much of a violation to someone.

      I am also very happy with the bird’s eye perspective photo. The composition is just right and that splash of pink fits perfectly πŸ™‚

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