I have compiled a list of the ten points, of what I wish I knew when I first started taking street photos. The ten points are mainly aimed at beginners starting out and what I have learnt along my journey into photography.
1. Know your camera
Whatever you shoot with, know it well, know the settings like the back of your hand. The streets are fast and the last thing you need to be worrying about is what setting your camera is on and is it right for the shot. Starting out, I missed many shots messing around with camera settings. I’ll go more into camera use and what settings I use in my next article
Think about what time of day you’re going out to shoot. If you are going to shoot a fish market and go at lunch time, you’re probably going to see a completely different atmosphere to early morning when the fish market is setting up for the day. A park for example has a diverse flow of people throughout the whole day, think who visits parks at 6am and who visits parks at 3pm
3. Find something interesting
I’ve always thought that a street photo needs two things to be interesting, an interesting setting and a main subject. Now what are the chances you’re walking around and it so happens an interesting subject jumps right in front of you and frames itself into an interesting background. Let me tell you, the chances are very slim
There are two approaches I take to try and get the shot
- Follow the subject until the subject goes into an interesting environment
- Find an interesting environment and wait for an interesting subject to walk into place (this is my preferred method as it’s less stalkerish and gives you time to compose your scene and make adjustments to camera settings)
4. Look the part
Don’t be the person hiding in the bushes with a lens popping out, it puts people on edge. It’s better to take a good stance and hold your camera as if you’re shooting for Vogues next front cover. That being said this approach doesn’t always work and of course it’s always better to blend in with the crowd, so that you can get a natural reaction from your subject. Think about how you feel when someone is sheepishly hiding taking photos of you?
I’m sure you have all seen a shot of an old man pulling a cart in South East Asia somewhere, or a coffee farmer holding beans in their hands up to the camera with a shallow depth of field. If you want your photos to stand out take something out of the ordinary or adopt a particular style and master it. The old man pulling the cart maybe an easy target to practice on while you’re still finding your eye. But there are millions of shots like this on the web.
6. Fixed focal length
Back to gear again. Fixed focal length basically means keeping your lens at the same focal length 18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm etc. Most cameras come as standard with an 18-55mm zoom, find a focal length that gives a style of photo you like and stick to it. Like I said earlier the streets are fast and when the opportunity arises, the last thing you want to be doing is messing around with the zoom on the camera, along with focus and framing the subject. It’s one less thing to worry about
7. Look behind you
No, seriously! Look behind you every once in a while. Get the most out of your environment by using the whole scene, whatever is in front may not be interesting but you may find something behind you.
Don’t listen to people when they say you can only take photos early in the morning or late in the afternoon, shoot all day! Shooting at mid-day can get you some interesting shots with some strong shadows, remember you’re not shooting a beauty headshot. The streets are gritty, use the light available at the time. Another one I constantly hear is, “only take photos with the sun behind you” break the rules a little.
9. Shoot for yourself
Find something that you like to take photo of and shoot that. Don’t follow the trends of social media, just to get likes. Find what really motivates you to take photos and makes you happy. Soon you will have a style of your own, it just takes time.
10. Take your camera everywhere
Take your camera, everywhere you go rain or shine, even if you’re just going down to the shop for some milk. It will soon become a part of you and camera use will become second nature. Starting out, this is one piece of advice I knew, the amount of times I’ve said “I wish I had my camera right now”
Thank you for reading, I hope it has helped and given you some fresh ideas for your next photo walk or trip out with the camera. If you would like to contact me regarding this blog post or have any questions, please feel free to contact me by the means below.
Follow me on Instagram: @jake_Canning
Add me on wechat: Jake_canning
It's not something that I've really done before but that's a great tip Jeremy, It would really make the story a little more personnel. Most of the time I will show the person the photo, If I think they won't ask me to delete it (usually when someone is doing something illegal) I've sometimes sent the photos to people I've met on the street
Hi Jake :)
Ok I will add one too. 13 - Whatever I decided to shoot, I always go and talk with them. I do this way because , first, I'm a foreigner here, and second because locals and shy people will always kind of steal pictures, which will give you the same kind of look. But by talking with them, and snapping pics you'll have better expression and a story to post :)
|31.05.20171 replies1 replies|
I'll add two more to this list of 10,
11, smile ..... it's amazing how people react to a smile, don't take yourself too seriously and a smile puts people at ease ...
12, keep shooting. I don't mean put the camera on continuous shooting, I mean don't stop taking photos when you think you have 1 or 2 good shots. If you put the effort into going out on a photo shoot don't stop taking photos until your battery is gone, your card is full. Some of the best shots I've got have been when everyone else has packed their gear away and finished for the day.