It is street photography season in this part of the world and I am jotting down ten top tips as a reminder to myself and anyone else that may happen to stumble upon this humble little website. There are some obvious tips but as always, user experiences may vary.
It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you know how to operate the damn thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen friends on photo walks struggling with their settings on the go. It’s frustrating. You miss shots, the shots taken are out of focus, or underexposed and sometimes a flash drive was not installed. Before going out, clean your equipment, ensure the battery and drive is installed. Fire some test shots to dial in your settings. You have to know when to compensate for lighting, shadows, motion and focus until your camera is a part of you.
Gear Pt. 2
Keep it simple and lighten the load. No, you aren’t going to use that zoom lens, nor the wide-angle. That 50mm is great if you are shooting portraits, but not for a street shoot so leave it. Get your adjustable lens and call it good. Again, keep it light, so any extra lenses and gear will weigh you down and that sucks if you are covering a lot of ground. On asphalt.
Grab Your Comfy Shoes
Did I mention that prolonged exposure to walking on asphalt can hurt? Grab your comfy shoes because if you forgot to lighten your gear bag, you will start to feel it in a few blocks. Blisters suck. Sore knees and back will suck. These issues will take away your ability to concentrate on your image taking.
We work with what we have. But that doesn’t satisfy us. How many times will we walk the same path we did before hoping for something new? And we’ll do it again because THIS time will be different. It’s the possibilities that keep us coming back. The fact that we may have missed something the first few times. And we are right. I’s time to explore more. The light and shadows are different because we chose a different time of day. The angles are different. Composition is different. The people we encounter are different, or are wearing something different. A new shop opens up giving a chance to explore it with a camera. We are explorers and our camera is our passport. Explore more!
Photographers are isolated. We roam alone with nothing but our thoughts and our gear. Eventually we’ll come across muggles. There can be some interaction. You may want to photograph them. Be bold but courteous. Other times, you’ll come across someone telling you not to be there. Now’s the time to be courteous again. Develop your people skills as much as you develop your images. The adages are true: smile, be polite, and doors can open to you that have been closed. Remember, explore more.
Explore…and Observe More
Photographers move around and observe the world as it is. Notice the vibe of the area and integrate yourself. You are here to observe, not change. Observe people and surroundings in the habitat. Position yourself right in the middle of the action to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Then, you’ll be able to capture candid moments, a still shadow hitting a building just right, or how the area interacts with each other.
Tell A Story Instead of Documenting
I am just learning this myself and need to create opportunities to practice. Instead of looking for that one “banger shot”, create a series of images that tell a story. It is increasingly rare to find that one image that will go viral. Who cares? People will scroll through their social feeds even faster looking for more and more. No, best to find and capture multiple images that will bring you satisfaction overall. I’d rather come home happy with what I have, rather than be disappointed because I didn’t get that one shot.
Yep, that town’s monument has been captured thousands of different ways. Now what? Try your hand at it but move on to something fresh and hopefully undiscovered by someone else’s lens. Focus on what you want to capture, not what everyone else has.
Enjoy It All
Take the pressure off right away. We’ll have some good days and some shit days. But we keep going back out. Expectations suck the joy out of photography. Work with what you have in your bag. If the shot isn’t up to your standards, either change your angle or change your standards. It’s a process to be enjoyed from stalking the shot to developing it in Lightroom behind your iDevice. Along the way, hop into that pub to relax and enjoy your day. Street photography can work up a thirst after all. Pop onto that public transit to stop and have a think, review your images. Get off at the 4th stop and explore there. Experience everything and enjoy it.
Boring images stem from boring subjects or a bored photographer. Change it up. Liven it up and expose yourself to something new, you are an explorer with a passport after all. Find the interesting, become interested and your images will be more interesting.
Conclusion With A Bonus
Running out of things to shoot? Try some of these next time you are out:
- negative space
- urban decay
- security cameras
- utility poles and the graffiti stickers
- shop windows
See this image and more street shoots on the photography website.