Have you ever noticed how some of the best street photos are taken in great locations? Not necessarily exotic locations but a location that enhances the image.
In this blog post we are going to talk about how to chose the perfect location for street photography and why sometimes choosing the location before finding your subject can help you take better street photos.
Street photography is full of serendipitous moments that all come together to create one amazing image. To get better at street photography we need to get better at reacting to situations and better at understanding how to make great images.
By choosing your location first you are able to control some elements within the image in advance of pressing the shutter. This gives you more time to concentrate on the other elements within the photo, giving you the opportunity to experiment with them, for example, to try out new settings, practice new compositions techniques and really start to push your photographic boundaries.
Also choosing your location first is also a great way to overcome any fear you might have about photographing strangers. You begin to feel more comfortable in your surroundings. You are waiting for people walk through your shot rather than you invading their space to make the image.
It can also be a great way to practice your street photography if you only have a short amount of time. Just half an hour in one location can help you to really concentrate on a new technique or practice your settings for example.
Of course, if your street photography style is to take close up images of people where you don’t see that much of the background then your location becomes irrelevant. But if you like to see some background in your images, if the location is part of the story you are trying to tell with your street photography then choosing it first can be a great way of taking street photos.
So what do you look for when choosing a location.
Firstly, the location you choose and the time of day you are shooting will determine the sorts of people who will be around. What type of people will be in that location and do you want to take photos of those people.
For images of people at work head to a business district. If you want to capture everyday life keep away from tourist areas and head into the suburbs. Work out what you want to take photos of and think about the general area you want to head out to. Remember the time of day you are out shooting might also affect this.
Once you are in the area where you want to take photos seek out the place with the best light.
Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography. George Eastman
Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.
In fact the light is sometimes what might make you stop in a location in the first place. If you have chosen a square for example then which part of the square has the best light in it and how can you use it to the best advantage in your images.
Are their great shadows to be captured or silhouettes to be made? Is there harsh directional light for making dramatic images, or is the light soft and diffuse and good for reflections. Work out how you will make the most of the light that you have.
Once you have found a location you like the look of with light you can make the most of, take look at the space around you. What would make a great background in your image, what is interesting and what will add that extra dimension to any photos that you make.
Where is the best place for you to stand and for your subject to stand in relation to the light and the background. How much of the background will you include within the frame? Are there any distracting elements, like rubbish bins, that you would rather not have in your shot? Remember to check out all the places you can stand, so from high up on a bench and low down to ground level as well as from eye height. What might not seem like a great location at first could turn out to be an interesting one once you change where you stand.
copyright Thomas Leuthard
Now is your chance to really experiment with some compositional techniques. You could push the boundaries of the rule of thirds for example, work with negative space or practice layering within an image. Some of these things you can try out even without a subject in your shot, so you will be ready when the right person does come along.
What kind of subject are you looking for - is there a lot of red in the image, in which case will you be looking for someone wearing red? Or perhaps you are interested in taking a silhouette shot in which case you would need to think about what people are wearing in order to get the best shape. And where do you want them to be in the shot you have set up, where do they need to be standing or walking through to make the image.
All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice. Elliott Erwitt
All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.
You might need to wait a long time to see someone interesting or to get someone who ends up walking through the part of your frame that you want them to walk through. Once you do you might want to tweak the composition or change where you stand to try and make it a better shot next time. Remember to be patient and to take your time.
So you can see that sometimes choosing your location first can be a really great way to get some interesting street photos and more importantly it can help to try out new techniques and push your photographic boundaries much more easily than shooting in other ways.
So now it’s your turn. Todays street photography challenge is to find a great location, spend sometimes there and see what photos you can take.
Share them on the Facebook page - I’d love to see them.
Here are a few ideas for some places that might make a great location for you as a place to start in your town or city:
Local Streets with local life
bus stops and public transport in general
corners of streets