Photo Feature: Street Photography
Street photography is one of my favourite types of photography… I love walking around with my camera and taking candid shots of life as it happens. But it certainly takes a bit of getting used to! Not everyone likes getting snapped as they are going about their business after all! So here are some of my tips for taking pictures in the street…
- My first tip is rather obvious… always have your camera (or phone) to hand! You just never know when you may spot something photo-worthy when you are out and about. Let’s be honest, we’ve all stood there before and thought ‘that would make a great photograph’ but not been able to take advantage of the opportunity!
- Street photography covers a whole range of situations and styles – find your style and photograph what you enjoy… this will be obvious from the final images, as your best photos are generally the ones where you care about the subject!
- Start off in an area you are familiar with as you will find it easier to find interesting places to shoot and will feel more comfortable.
- Try to be subtle about it! If you want to capture people without them realising what you are doing (ie so they are acting naturally) you need to blend in with your surroundings and not be too obvious. Remember, people often act differently when they see a camera…
- Be patient! It can take a long time to get the right shot… sometimes standing in one place and seeing what occurs works but other times you will need to move around.
- Try shooting from different angles, not just street level… you could lie down and shoot upwards or try and get up high for a bird’s eye view of the street.
- Go out whatever the weather! You can get some great shots even on the greyest, rainiest days.
- Legally you are entitled to take photographs in public spaces (in most countries at least – except in sensitive areas such as near military bases, etc)… however, sometimes people may ask you not to take photos of either them or their property – it is courteous to respect their wishes as they may see it as an invasion of their privacy! And also, you don’t know how they may react if you don’t heed their request… your safety is more important than any photo.
- Take care – remember not everywhere is completely safe (particularly at night) and walking round with an expensive camera could put you at risk. Generally for street photography, I use the smallest camera I can, or even my iPhone. (This also helps in terms of blending in, as a phone or small camera is less obvious!)
- Be prepared to cover a lot of ground on foot – wear comfortable footwear and clothes suitable for the weather! And don’t forget to take some sort of protection for your camera too – you don’t want it getting drenched during a sudden downpour!
- In terms of settings it’s trial and error… give it a go and see what works. But remember… you have to be ready to take a photo quickly – spend too long messing around with your camera settings and the moment may have passed. Typically in street photography you want to have as much depth of field as you can to capture the whole scene, a fairly fast shutter speed and high-ish ISO to freeze the action – although this depends on the effect you are looking for and the light conditions of course. On a sunny day, I would start with aperture f8 or f11, shutter speed 1/400 and ISO 400… although quite often I shoot on shutter priority mode because the light can change rapidly and you don’t always have enough time to change your settings. You can also use continuous shooting mode to fire off a succession of shots from which you can choose the best ones later.
- Try different cameras and lenses – whilst having a small camera or phone makes you less obtrusive, shooting with a zoom lens does mean that you can shoot from a distance without being noticed… see what works best for you.
- Try converting your photos to black and white – this is often effective for street photography and can give an image much more impact.
- And, lastly, the most important piece of advice – PRACTICE! It’s not about having the best gear on the market, it’s all about practice… that is what will make you a great photographer at the end of the day!
So these are my top tips for getting started in street photography – why not give it a go and see how you get on!
If you have any questions or need any more advice, let me know in the comments…