STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

By SnapSquad - November 06, 2018

What is Street Photography

Let’s clear one thing out of the way, street photography does not necessarily have to be shot in the street. In fact, street photography does not even need to happen in a street or even outdoors! You can shoot in a public place like a market or a mall, a station, a post office… It can involve people for sure (yet not necessarily), architecture, vehicles, random objects (even macro) your pick. So what makes a street photographer? To simply put it, it’s all about documenting life and society as a whole; a way to create a social record (and often a socio-historical record) with an artistic flair.
Let’s make another thing clear too, even if you do take pictures in a park, a landscape is not street photography; it must become part of your story in a shot based on human essence.



Abundance of Subjects

Knowing that street photographers are recorders of the human impact on the world, it is easy to figure out that the list of subjects to cover is extremely long and diversified! There are a million ways to capture expressions of life and human nature in moments or sights that may feel sometimes surprising, intriguing even, funny, dramatic, happy or sad, shocking, outrageous and too, beautiful. And even though you may rather take pictures that do not include people, keep in mind that some of the most interesting “old” photographs are the ones with people on them. Those are the ones that touch us the most for showing us what we were like in time and how our culture evolves. All this makes street photography a uniquely emotional art genre.
                      
Ethical Behaviour

Because it often deals with catching people’s behaviour or visible emotions, street photography can be intrusive to the subject. If you are caught taking someone’s picture, you may upset someone who may approach you to let you know that they are not happy. The best way to deal with it is, to be honest, and not deny having taken the shot. Instead, you may even succeed in talking the person into letting you have the picture with the promise of sending them a copy and giving them your contact number? In any case, smile, be courteous and ready to delete. Beyond that, you may want to find out about the privacy and security laws in the country you are visiting before you start taking pictures of strangers.
If you feel awkward taking pictures of people or you do not like to interact with them and yet mind missing on candid shots, you may want to pick a spot and wait there; become a scene observer. By doing so you will find that the action comes to you instead of you invading people’s space. A fine compromise.
Another way to take your shot and avoid having to interact (that’s what I often do) is to keep your eye on the camera even though you have just clicked, pretending your attention is still on something and wait till your subject leaves the scene; a nice way to let the person believe that you were not focusing on him/her. Although you may feel sneaky and a bit of a stalker, you may still rather take candid shots rather than planned one with the approval of the subject. 

Equipment & Photographic Skills

Equipment
The great thing about street photography is that you do not need a special camera; it is accessible to anyone with a hand camera and even a camera phone which now come with very high pixels and your favourite apps. A camera equipped with a zoom lens will, of course, be more appropriate for shots involving distances. It really all depends if you have some specific subject in mind (in this case you may also want to check out specialised websites that recommend a list of cameras) or if you want to go about light, easy and inconspicuous.  
Skills
Street photography is the ideal ground to develop your photographic skills. It is perhaps less daunting to take pictures of facades or windows and still targets in general (watch the lighting!) yet really, the more you go out there and shoot and the faster you will develop your own style and techniques. When you catch a good scene, an expression and attitude that appeal to you, take lots of shots and sort them out later.

Techniques

Zone Focusing
A commonly used focusing technique is zone focusing which allows the photographer to pre-focus the camera to a specific distance and shoot when the subject comes into range.
Depth of Field
It is a good idea to shoot with as much depth of field as you can. With this, you will be able to be more often successful at taking sharp shots of fast-changing scenes and avoid blurring the surrounding. To obtain as much depth of field as possible, set your ISO high so that you get a faster shutter speed and a smaller aperture (f/8 or f/11).

The secret to street photography is really to go out there and follow your heart to find out what makes you tick most, what attracts you most, what your special interest really is and the stories you want to share. To all this I’ll add one more recommendation, which is to research the work of other photographers; and that will be the topic of our next post.




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