Street Photography 101

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Some find it terrifying to go out and click on the street and some find it amusing to move among people. Some spend their time mingling with locals there and some get embarrassed by the attention they get out of clicking photos. Here is a small list which i thought would help people wanting to get into street photography and how to go about it.

Since really getting into photography after buying my first digital camera in 2003, a 2 megapixel Olympus point and shoot, I’ve loved taking natural photos of people. After looking at all the great street photography artists in art school it made me love it and add to my strive to travel to far away places. It also made me fall in love with the analog process, the not knowing if you got the shot until you’ve processed the film and made a contact sheet was all part of the thrill and following in the footsteps of my favorite documentary photographers- Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, Dorothea Lange and Garry Winogrand.

1. Plan your gear: While you plan to go out and shoot, plan your gear accordingly. Carrying too much gear might not be a good idea because you might want to keep attention on capturing life rather than worrying about extra lenses. Should you Include a longer lens? Well there are different theories around this question. Alot of people say that, a longer lens would help you capture shots from distance, and hence you would have candid shots without letting people know you are taking them. The other school of thought says to get closer and get into the frame to capture the soul in your shot. That is the beauty of most Lomography cameras- with only a few that you can change the lenses on, having a set field to work with makes you get in close for the shot. I tend to think that if the people are further away than what you are comfortable to go up to then leave them be.

2. Observe: While moving around in a new place, look for activities happening around. Every place is characteristic in its own way. Really it depends on the person behind the camera, you can decide what you like to take photos of, whether it be of a young couple in love or of a group of tourists all looking at a map confused, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Try to capture those moments.


3. Try and get involved: I am guilty of in some situations clicking a shot and leaving straight away. This can sometimes leave the people around stunned, anxious or angry but one of the best methods is to get involved with people, share a smile and not run with a photo. You never know, a smile or small talk might give you great shots, other times its best just to leave people be.

4. Neither appear conspicuous, nor suspicious: People who tend to sneak a shot and move on, might appear suspicious. Be very aware about doing this, in my experience though by just looking further off into the distance will put a persons mind at rest that you weren’t taking photos of them, however always respect privacy of the people around you.

5. Bring home a story and not a photo: Street photography is a genre of dealing with people. Strike up a conversation and get to know your subjects, it will mean more to you later to be able to tell a story of someone rather than just being able to tell where the photo was taken.

6. Gauge the situation yourself: If you see a fight break out on the street you may feel like taking your lens cap off but, obviously, think before you do, could the adrenalin of these people turn on you? Develop an eye to gauge the situation by yourself.

7. Understand Law of Land: There are lots of places where you might not be allowed to take photos so it’s important that you abide by the laws of land. Be careful of Shooting at the railway station, bridges, buses and taking photos of Police and alike are all against the law since they could compromise the security, so avoid shooting at such places, unless you know it is okay to do so.

written by erinwoodgatesphotography on 2011-03-16 in #gear #tipster

3 Comments

  1. whitemikerocks
    whitemikerocks ·

    Thanks for the advice!

  2. knikolas
    knikolas ·

    Great! Except you forgot the King of street photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson!

  3. 1minute1second
    1minute1second ·

    Great article! :D

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