Street photography is a great hobby. It’s fun and you can do it anywhere, at any time and with any type of camera.
But whilst it’s easy to get started it can be much harder to take really great photographs.
My mission is to get as many people taking awesome photos as quickly and easily as possible. So if you are frustrated by the images you are taking then these 5 tips will help you on your way.
I go straight in very close to people and I do that because it’s the only way you can get the picture. You go right up to them. Even now I don't find it easy. I don't announce it. I pretend to be focusing elsewhere. Martin Parr
I go straight in very close to people and I do that because it’s the only way you can get the picture. You go right up to them. Even now I don't find it easy. I don't announce it. I pretend to be focusing elsewhere.
Street photography is all about capturing life as it unfolds. Often, although not always, that involves taking photographs of people. But photographing strangers can be daunting.
As a result, it can be easier to photograph people from a distance. Whilst this makes you feel less self-conscious the images you take can often just look like general crowd scenes. The really interesting person you wanted to take a picture of is very small in the frame.
It’s time to challenge yourself and start photographing people closer up. Use a wide angle lens (or set your telephoto to one spot) - 35mm - and get out there. Be brave. You’ll be amazed what you can achieve.
TIP: Start by photographing in a crowded tourist place. There will be many other people with cameras there and you will feel less conspicuous.
If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photography. Bruce Gilden
If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photography.
Now you know the person you want to photograph. Aside from getting closer to them how are you going to make that person really stand out from the crowd? This is where composition comes in. Whilst not all guidelines for composition work every time they are a really good place to start.
You want to lead the viewers eye to the most important part of the photograph. Look for diagonals or lines within the street that will do that. These could be lines of buildings, wires or painted lines on the street.
You could also try changing your perspective. What happens if you shoot from lower down or higher up? Does that make for a more interesting image?
Finally, do look at using the rule of thirds. Draw two horizontal and vertical lines through your photograph (ie you divide your image into 9 equal squares). You want to ensure that the focal point of the image lies where these lines intersect. In about 95% of cases this can really help to create a more pleasing image.
The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But you have to see… Eric Haas
The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But you have to see…
Photography is all about light. The amount of light that enters the camera will determine how dark or light that image will be. There are three ways to control light in a camera - the ISO, the aperture and the shutter speed. Here is some quick set up information to help you get started if you want to shoot in manual mode.
Once you have those settings if the image is too bright then increase the shutter speed. If it is too dark then you will need to increase your ISO.
TIP: If you don’t want to shoot manually then try using either aperture priority (this will allow you set the aperture while the camera choses the correct shutter speed and ISO) or Shutter Priority (which allows you to choose the shutter speed).
No place is boring, if you’ve had a good nights sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film. Ansel Adams
No place is boring, if you’ve had a good nights sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.
While the quote above doesn't ring true for everyone anymore as fewer people are shooting on film, the premise is still the same. Street photography is about photographing life as it unfolds. This might include people, objects or our environment. Images might be funny or serious. There is no right or wrong in terms of subject.
Despite that sometimes we all find it difficult to find inspiration. Often going somewhere new can help. Go for a walk, get lost, go to the end of the bus line. When on your walk take a photograph every 50 steps and see what you have after an hour.
Sometimes, the street can be full of many interesting things and it is difficult to narrow down what you want to photograph. Setting some parameters might help. For example, only photograph people who are wearing red. Or perhaps take pictures of people on their phones, or with carrier bags. Once you know what you are looking for you can concentrate on composition and capturing the moment.
Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
When I was just starting out Homer Sykes said to me “less thinking, more doing”. And he was right. I was over thinking things and to put it bluntly simply not taking enough photos.
It’s so easy to make excuses like its raining or I’m tired. Just set yourself small goals if you are finding it difficult to make the time. Perhaps you could photograph on your way to work. Or perhaps you could head out to meet friends a little earlier. Even the park after your run or outside the supermarket can be a good an interesting place.
Learning and absorbing takes time and practice, and little and often can be a good way to build momentum.
TIP: Make a plan and set yourself some goals before you head out. This can help you to stay focused.
Nothing happens when you sit at home. Elliott Erwitt
Nothing happens when you sit at home.
So often we want to get better at something but we just don't actually get started. I started this blog for one reason: I hope to inspire you to go out and take more photographs. Now you know a few things that will really help take your street photography to the next level, head out there and see what you can do.
If you feel inspired and want to know more, then why don't you take a look at my free Quick Guide to Street Photography.
It covers a lot of things you might want to know about from how to chose a subject, to composition techniques and camera settings. There is no technical jargon in it, just simple, easy to understand information that will get you taking street photos today.
Click here to download your free copy now and let me know how you get on.