Updated: Sep 6, 2020
You must have seen many articles on street photography and here I am just sharing own experience when holding camera for shooting on street. I will keep tell you about the tips and tricks which we will follow with purpose to get a story from people around us doing their daily life work.
Like any other genres street photography demands it's own style and being a photographer it adds second nature "hear this somewhere and keep reminding myself whenever going down the street with my camera".
I could still recall the moments of first time when I started street photography and to feel comfortable I asked my friend to come along with me.
to protect me from strangers on street..... just adding fun part :)
It is important at start to have someone give a company to you at starting days and it helps in developing confidence level for talking to strangers (people you don't know how would react on the face). If you already have nature to get yourself gel with people it is half job done on the street and you have liberty to just concentrate on the composition styles. I personally not having this gift naturally and takes time to get free interaction with people around me "kind of shy". We all are having different personality and no worries if you do not have it naturally, you will have it gradually with time being spent on street with your camera. We call this as your 'Second Nature' which comes on you whenever holding the camera in your hand.
How to Start?
We already did start by just getting on the street and taking your first frame capture is not less than waiting for exam to start where you know how to start but "WHEN" is the big hurdle to cross. I took two hours of walking if recall correctly on the day 1 before taking first frame and I was looking for moments where people can't notice me with sense of being photographed on camera. This is the most interesting part when you see people creating moments on the go and give opportunity for photographer to capture those for making into lifetime memories. Look for the action and act in starting days would be very helpful to gain the control on composition and also develop confidence level.
Your subject could be people interacting with each other or a person walking by to give you a classical street image which would tell the story about that day and event which you got it captured.
Develop your skills and find your own space!
Photography world is big enough to see the same place/subject photographed by many and making your presence felt needs special (unique) view to get the perspective which showcase your vision on framing the same place/subject (this would be your style being noticed by people following your work).
Creating layers is very well known composition technique and this has become the core of my street photography style which helps in adding creative approach to reach your subject and telling story about the moment getting captured. Being a portrait photographer we always look for people giving facial expression and there is no better place than being on the street to hone your skills.
At the beginning I was using 70-300mm lens which gives the liberty to get your frame from distance and you get amazing detailed portrait image around 200mm length. After few months when things coming more easy I moved to 85mm lens and since then it is my favourite lens. An ideal focal length for street photography is 35mm and this is all for help in creating your zone on the street (photographers have been through my workshop should be feeling more in control) to get ready for capturing moments with minimal or no change in camera settings. In photography keeping the scene simple is the key component and this is where thin line draws between the good n great work.
When I get used to interact with new people it helped in many ways and always get benefit when someone give a hint for liking to being photographed. If you find your subject is open for giving you pose then it is your golden hour on street and try utilize the moment with great zeal. When I meet a person who is supporting me for being my model, I make sure to get few shots with their look when giving pose and also few when they are not aware to get a candid.
In portrait photography candid shots are tend to be more interesting to the eyes because of the feel and expression which comes naturally.
I like to make this into my practice and meet the people to make them feel me on same place in different days. This practice of visiting same place get you and the people (mostly your subject) used to for seeing each other - This makes both you and the subject more comfortable to create opportunity for having story telling images around the same subject/place.
The most amazing part in street photography is you meet many people and we all have our own style with expression. If someone looking to make career in portrait photography and struggling with budget to hire a model then get on the street to find your real life model for testing your skills. This way of doing portrait work will makes you feel confident to get expression and poses from model in studio as well.
The critical part in portrait photography is getting natural emotions and feel out from model by talking to make model comfortable with the photographer. When your model is having confident on your photography then it makes the success bar much higher than your expectations. I ask my students in street photography workshop to find your subject and never afraid to talk to them when they are comfortable for being photographed. The more time we spend in talking with subject that will create an opportunity for expressive portrait.
Getting more creative and forget people around you...
Like any other photographer I do consider myself as an artist by heart and being creative is source of all inspiration to do something unusual which looks funny at times where people around you give all types of expressions. Never mind on how someone behind you is reacting on your approach to capture your frame and this is kind of giving presentation on a stage where hundreds if not thousands people in front of you seeing you right on the face.
In above frame I was looking for shapes around on the street to frame the story and found a bicycle which works very well to add triangle shape. While I was doing few people started talking about how was taking photograph and someone asked if I am doing for a news magazine. This is normal behaviour we expect from people when doing street photography, so keeping things simple I have ready-made answer "doing photography for the personal project" and this is all we need to do, to get along with people on street.
Sometimes need to sit on knees and doing this in middle of the road not easy (always try taking friend) for looking on the traffic coming behind you when you completely lost in your work. To do this in more risk free manner I do go out on the road in early morning when most people do sleep and having weekend relax time in comfort of the bed. Look for the people who are busy to setup their shop in early morning as that gives opportunity cover story on good morning light. Light is the critical aspect of photography and long shadows of golden hour is like adding life in your frames.
Below are just few more examples of creative compositions from street where I have used light, low angle perspective and long exposure. This should give you some idea with inspiration to get similar frame in your own collection of street photography.
If we summarize what we have gone through in this article then it would be "going out in the street with camera is more addictive when you get into your comfort zone and this is where true photographer comes out from soul to show the world on street with their own eyes".
You could visit my complete collection for street photography here:
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With this note I would say good-bye and I will promise to keep continue all efforts for making photography learning more easy with articles like this we just gone through above.
Author: Sumit Dhuper