As a photographer, you are naturally drawn to documenting the world around you as you notice the details about people, animals, and landscapes through your camera lens. But normally, when you are capturing images of people or even pets, you aren’t a complete stranger to these subjects. You are familiar and comfortable shooting photos of these subjects, as they are with you as well. Street photography takes you into a totally different level of comfort and a new element of photography by allowing you to photograph random people in public spaces. Street photography is a type of candid photography done in a public place like a street, restaurant, mall, airport, or even on public transportation. It mostly involves people or animals in a populated environment depicting their everyday lives in their natural element without any interference from you, the photographer. We’ve gathered some helpful tips for you to make the most of this genre of photography and show you ways to feel comfortable while learning to be creative shooting this type of photography.
Where to Shoot
Simply put, street photography is about documenting everyday life and society. Don’t let the name dictate where you can shoot. Street photography isn’t meant to be shot only in the street, on public sidewalks. You can shoot at the airport, at the mall, at the beach, at the park, in the bus or subway, in the doctor’s office, in the grocery store, or in any other public places. It is about candidly documenting everyday life and society as it unfolds. You could say it’s more like Life photography. The most important thing at the end of the day is creating powerful, compelling, and emotional images.
What to Shoot
Street photography doesn’t always have to include only people going about their daily lives. There are many opportunities to photograph animals, buildings, street signs, and vehicles. The best thing to do is to shoot what your heart tells you to shoot. Just point the camera to whatever is interesting. This can even be done from outside or inside the car, bus or train on your way to or from where you are planning to shoot for the day.
Respect Your Subjects
Most of the higher quality street photos are usually close-ups of the subjects. The closer you can get the better, but with this invasion of space comes risks. If you don’t want to chance losing the candid element of the moment by asking permission to take the photo first, then by all means, keep your distance and just zoom in as much as you can. If you feel the image requires you to be closer than you camera zoom allows, try the nonchalant attempt of holding your camera at your waist and shooting. The same holds true with using flash. Flash should be avoided especially when shooting towards people and animals.
How to Shoot
When doing some street photography, most photographers like to rely on manual settings because it works quicker than auto exposure. Depending on the results you are after, you’ll want to choose a quick shutter speed to stop movement when shooting in daylight. However, as soon as the light starts to disappear, you’ll need to choose a higher ISO value such as 1/200th of a second. Sometimes you may even want to slow down your shutter speed to achieve movement blur around your subject. When selecting aperture, choose a value that leaves you with a quick enough shutter speed and enough depth of field for backgrounds and foregrounds. All of this is important for quality images, however, in street photography, these move down the list below subject, mood, story, light and composition. All of these are more important than sharpness and low noise. Just remember to capture the moment using whatever settings necessary.
Use these helpful tips to get out on the street or any public space, look for interesting subjects and focus on the story with your camera.