Over in the RAW facebook group we run a weekly challenge. The idea behind the challenge is, as the name suggests to challenge everyone to shoot something that perhaps they haven’t done before. This weeks challenge is Street Photography, so I thought I would post up a few tips to help people out.
UPDATE: You can now read this in Italian.
1. Blend in
You want to be as invisible as possible. That means you leave the 70-200 at home use something smaller. In fact if you can leave the DSLR at home, grab your phone and head out. If you must use your DSLR use a small lens, the smaller the better. My personal choice is a Fed 5 35mm film rangefinder. I know film isn’t for everyone but it really does lend itself to street photography very well.
Street photography is a much more relaxed form of photography. Motion blur, under/over exposed, out of focus can all add to the aesthetic of street photography. It’s fine to use a priority mode like shutter or aperture priority. If you want to use manual, meter off your hand. Street photography often happens very quickly, you can’t spend time altering your settings to get the right exposure.
3. Watch and wait
Before you go firing off shot after shot of people walking down a street, watch them. People are like ants, it’s really very funny. If you see someone do something of look at something that you think would create an interesting photo just wait, someone else will do it and you’ll be ready to take the shot.
Watching people, how they react and interact is quite fascinating but it also is a key skill to developing your street photography eye. It’s about looking for finer details around you. For example, the other day I was driving to the shops and as I was passing a Hair Regrowth Centre I noticed a half bald man sitting under the sign just having a rest, that would of been a great photo had I not been driving.
4. Get in the zone
Sometimes it’s just not happening. I find when I’m out and about just walking with my camera, I very rarely find anything interesting to take a photo of. However if I get into the zone of street photography I start noticing photo opportunities everywhere. How do you get into the zone, well that’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself. Sometimes it’s as simple as putting some music on and tuning out of the world around you.
5. Get close
Unfortunately the most difficult thing in street photography is also the most important. You have to get close to your subject. That is where a small mobile phone camera, film or point and shoot camera etc… can come in handy. Turn off your beeps and even your shutter sound, if you can. Use a wide’ish lens max of 50mm. If you can set a pre focus, set it to around 1/1.5 meters and see how you go. Over time you’ll end up getting closer and closer.
Do you acknowledge that you have taken a photo? Well that is up to you. Some street photographers smile and say thank you. Others continue on about their business shooting away, leaving their subjects in a confused state about whether or not they had just had their photo taken. In some cases some people won’t even realise.
If you would like to join in the street photography challenge head over to the RAW facebook group. Otherwise if you’ve taken some street photography share it below.