How to Improve your Street Photography

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A picture can tell a thousand stories and being a street photographer is one of the most rewarding things that you could ever do.

Ever since the first camera was designed photographers have been recording our world. Each individual capturing their own different style.

Some shoot candid, some shoot with black and white some like to interact with their subject. But all are doing the same thing and that is recording our history.

Large pedestrian crossing street photograph
It Takes Time by Imahinasyon Photography on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

I used to do the candid shoots using an 18 - 270mm lens; I loved to look at the subject having a more natural look, going about their business with no staring into the camera.

These images do have a place in the photo world and can coexist with the images shot with a 50mm lens where you are much closer to your subject and sometimes have to have communication to get the shot your require.

A famous street photographer Robert Capa said "If your photos are not good enough it's because you're not close enough".

I must admit when I put down my zoom lens and started to shoot with a 50mm prime lens I was so impressed with the results it took me quite a while to put the zoom back on.

Street photo of a woman on a bike, taken using a 50mm lens
Vecia da corsa by Il conte di Luna on flickr (licensed CC-BY-SA)

It is always a bit daunting to go out and take pictures of people you have to be wise and cunning. My advice if you were starting out to take street images of people would be to find a local market that's really busy, you will less noticeable.

Plan your shoot for the busiest market day. Have a 50mm lens in your equipment bag. If you have a friend that would be willing to go on the shoot with you this could help build your confidence going onto the streets.

Start at the beginning of the market and as your walking through look for the most interesting situations as possible. If you see a trader about to take money from a client just lift the camera and shoot.

Street photograph of a market
Yangon_0498p by Stefan Munder on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

Interesting stalls and shops make good street images you only have to look back at some of the old black and white images from the 1960's of London markets that have captured time.

Don't be afraid to ask someone for permission to take their photograph, you will be surprised the amount of people who don't mind.

Tell them that you are a street photographer, give them your business card, tell them that they really look interesting and you would like to have a picture of them. You will get people who will say no and if that happens just walk away and do not let it affect your confidence as it is the law of averages, some will and some won't.

Black & white street photo of an elderly woman resting
22-9-2010 309/365 Elderly Women by fomu on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

I would advise you not to take an expensive camera bag out on your location shoots as this could give out a signal that you have expensive equipment. Risks assess all situations in your mind no matter how confident you are. This will help you to build confidence.

Decide what kind of style of photography you are going to adopt to show your images. Will it be black and white or will it be colour? Create your own workflow to get your images ready to show the world and the most important thing is to enjoy your photography.

About the Author

The company director for Photographing London

Street & Wedding Photographer
Senior Technical Analyst with Toyota (GB) PLC.
Living in London enjoying all that life brings.

Written by Guest

May 9th, 2012 at 11:07 am

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