12 Street Photography Techniques – Tips and Tricks
Get streetwise and realize the photographic potential in your urban wonderland with these tips:
1. Less is more
In terms of equipment, less is more. If you are traipsing the streets of a city for hours on end you’ll want to cut down on the baggage, so a good pair of walking shoes and a comfortable camera strap should not be negotiated. Additionally, you’ll want to blend in to catch subjects unawares; erecting a tripod or using a telephoto lens won’t suggest subtlety.
2. Off the beaten track
Street photography is not tourist photography so go off the beaten track and capture what is being done behind the scenes. Going out at an unusual time can help you find great shots and because street photography is not dependent on perfect light setting, you have no excuse not to get out early and start out till late.
3. Stolen moments
The key to successful street shooting is to be on the lookout for an opportunity before it happens. Anticipate action by scouring groups for potentials clashes or bond, judge the atmosphere of a crowd and react to body language and facial expressions.
4. True colors
Colorful clothing or backgrounds can sometimes be a distraction when you want to concentrate on facile expression and gesture and for this reason the genre lends itself to black and white. However, there will be opportunities where lurid and gaudy colors collide and it would be a crime to convert.
5. In the background
By paying attention to the background, you can catch some stolen moments. Look for billboards, signs, graffiti or other visual elements that could be used to make humorous, ironic or incongruous statements.
6. Opposites attract
Look for compositions that reveal dichotomy to build a story or challenge a viewer’s presumptions. Try splitting the composition between the reflections on the ground and the scene above, or capture part of a building half in the dark, half in the light.
7. What a performance
Street entertainments make ideal subjects but try to capture from a different viewpoint. Whether it’s a parade, buskers, free runners, skateboarders or breakdancers, they offer a something a little different to your average street scene. Experiment with your compositions and choose a high shutter speed to capture the action
8. Off the streets
Despite its name, the genre does lend itself to other recreation areas, especially those where people expect cameras to be present. For example, try the seaside, fairgrounds, parks, sporting events or the zoo.
9. New angle
Get down low or find a higher viewpoint for an unusual angel. Multistory car parks are great for this as you don’t have to shoot through glass and give a high viewpoint in town centers. Be careful that your camera is secured; the last thing you want is to drop your camera and hurt someone.
10. Practice makes perfect
With your camera pre-set, pick a spot on the street and proceed with calmness, sensitivity and poise. With practice, you’ll make great street photographs
11. Fortune favors the brave
Robert Capa once said: ‘If your pictures aren’t’ good enough, you’re not close enough.’ Shots taken in the thick of the action will draw the viewer in, so force yourself to press the button and prepare to deal with the consequences. Better that than regretting missing an opportunity that will never happen again.
12. Frozen Motion
Movement is a key part of capturing the human zoo, so keep those shutter speeds fast and that hand steady or find something to support your camera. To capture people moving across the frame, a minimum of 1/125 sec is recommended and an ISO no slower than 400.
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