Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places. Usually photos include such things as streetscapes, parks, benches, malls, and other settings.
This type of photography tends to be ironic and can be distanced from its subject matter, and often concentrates on a single human moment; catching a moment in time if you will. On the other hand, a lot of street photography takes the opposite approach and provides a very literal and extremely personal rendering of the subject matter, giving the audience a more visceral experience of daily life they might only be passingly familiar with.
In the 20th century, street photographers have provided a detailed record of street culture. Chronicling the plight of the homeless, photographing urban sprawl and capturing recent events like “the Occupy Movement”.
The key to successful street photography is to blend into the surroundings in the attempt to not draw attention to yourself and the camera hanging around your neck. People use most kinds of portable cameras for street photography, digital and 35mm SLRs, point and shoot cameras and now smart phones.
A commonly used focusing technique is called “zone focusing”. This is where you set a fixed focal distance on your camera and shoot from that distance. This is used as an alternative to autofocus, particularly using wide angle lenses with their increased depth of field. Zone focusing facilitates shooting “from the hip” i.e. without bringing the camera up to the eye. Alternatively, swivel view finders allow for composing the shot and/or adjusting focus without bringing attention to the photographer.
If you are shooting homeless people, and you do not want to intimidate them, leave the DSLR at home and take a point and shoot. DSLR camera screams professional and will intimidate the subject matter, it may also entice them to want to take that camera from you. A point and shoot is less intimidating and a lot easier to give up if a desperate homeless person decides they want that camera.
So now that I laid out the ground rules and gave you some general rules to follow, here are a few quick tips to follow while out on your street photography adventure…
1 – Keep moving. If you stand still you will bring attention to yourself.
2 – Do not hesitate. Take the shot. How many times have you wished you clicked the shutter and didn’t. This is amplified in street photography. Everything moves so fast on a busy street that if you are not clicking, you’re missing the action.
3 – Hide your camera behind your hand or in your coat as you walk. The goal is to bring the least amount of attention to you.
4 – Don’t look like a professional. A trick is to fiddle with your camera, look like you are making adjustments and click the shutter while in manual focus at a fixed focal length. People will be caught off guard and not know you are taking their photo because they will think you are fiddling with your camera.
5 – Always have our camera in your hand and ready to shoot. Don’t just have your camera around your neck or in your pocket, which can cause a delay in you shooting. If your camera isn’t in your hand, you’re not ready to take a photo.
Safe and Happy Shooting,