Every photography enthusiast has a favourite type of photography that they feel most comfortable with. Once we begin to get good at something it can be quite easy to remain within our comfort zone and stick with what we know. But from a personal point of view, I feel as though trying various types of photography has helped me progress as a photographer; none more so than street photography, which I believe is one of the most difficult to get to grips with. There can be a lot of elements to contend with making it at times difficult, but also extremely rewarding when you do manage to capture something. There are many different types of street photography; some people like to get up close and capture real human interaction and emotion, whilst others like myself prefer to stand further afield and wait for subjects to enter a certain frame that we have lined up. There is no right or wrong so just experiment and see what you like or comes natural. My tips will be geared more towards the latter style, so if street photography is something that you are interested in here are my five tips for street photography.
1) Utilise all of your cameras settings; contrary to popular belief that to be a good photographer you must always shoot in manual mode, I am here to suggest that this is not true especially when it comes to street photography. Yes you should learn how to shoot in manual mode and once you do you probably will most of the time, but due to the quick fire nature of street photography and the constant changing elements going on around you there might be times when it may be beneficial to shoot in auto. Your camera is pretty good at exposing a photograph so use that to your advantage. If you have to turn on your heels quickly and are reacting to photograph something out the corner of your eye, then you don’t necessarily have time to adjust your camera settings so let the camera do it for you.
2)Try and tell a story; one of the things I try to do is tell a story and portray a true reflection of the place that I am in and how I see it through my own eyes. Whether that be someone walking to work in the rain in New York or a couple going for a romantic stroll through the streets of Venice, I always like to try to tell a story that encapsulates the mood and personality unique to that city.
3)Look for interesting locations; keep your eyes peeled for beautiful or intriguing locations. It can look more appealing and help to create a story if you capture something with a background or foreground. Adding different layers can help make a photograph more interesting. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t isolate a subject as that can be just as powerful or interesting, but finding the right location to do so can be key.
4)Patience; This can be the difference between getting that perfect photograph or missing it all together. Maybe you are waiting by that beautiful street, a nice piece of lighting or a reflection, but you feel as though you need a subject to enter the frame, then being patient can be key. Wait and see what might play out. Sometimes it can take 45 minutes or even an hour, but be prepared to put in the time to capture the photograph that you have pictured in your mind. The same goes for if you are walking and looking for something interesting. Have patience, look around at your surroundings, look for interesting subjects, try new angles and be in tune to what is happening around you.
5)Be alert; on the flip side to being patient you also need to be alert and reactive to what is going on around you. Street photography is as much about timing as anything else and being able to spot a potential scene that might be about to unfold or being able to react quickly when something plays out in front of you is vital. Those split seconds are vital to getting the photograph that you want or missing it.
Bonus tip; shoot in the rain! Umbrellas, reflections, colours, moody tones all come out to play during the rain making for some excellent opportunities to capture something a little unique and different. The rain can add a little drama to your photographs as people and traffic tend to become a little more rushed and chaotic during a downpour. Remember to keep your camera as dry as possible though, as even though most say they are weather sealed the likelihood is that it won’t take too much rain to cause problems with your camera.
Remember you don’t have to be in a big city to do street photography. You can just step outside and start experimenting on your own street. Have fun with it and be creative. Also, one of the things that I always like to stress is that don’t think you need a load of equipment or a high end camera. If you don’t have a camera then use your phone. Most phones today have excellent cameras built inside of them.
What is your favourite type of photography? Do you enjoy street photography? Let me know in the comments below.
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