Street photography has undergone significant changes since its inception, with techniques evolving over time. Previously, photographers were confined to studios for most of their work. However, with the invention of 35 mm miniature film and small cameras, they gained the freedom to capture the world at large.
Since then, urban streets have become an endless source of images due to their brimming activity and unpredictability. Nowadays, photographers can explore any city’s streets with their cameras without a doubt about the photographic rewards. Not only can street photography improve your photography skills, but it can also help you become more familiar with your surroundings.
In this article, we will discuss tips, tricks, and techniques for improving your street photography.
How to prepare for Clicking on Streets?
The primary goal of street photography is to capture the natural juxtaposition of various elements found in a street scene, such as people, objects, and features of the urban landscape. These elements should be photographed in a way that the composition of the image has a meaning or significance that goes beyond the mere placement of subjects in the same place.
This fundamental tip suggests that while composition and timing are essential, street photography mostly relies on a sensitive and finely-tuned awareness of the objects in the street. Through practice, a photographer can learn to anticipate and read the future, enabling them to capture meaningful juxtapositions that often only last for a fraction of a second.
Therefore, every shot must be anticipated by the street photographer, as meaningful moments come and go quickly. A little practice will show that a photographer must be quick to respond to a situation they are witnessing, or else it will be too late to capture the desired image.
Best Camera and Lens for Street Photography: Beginner Tips
According to the famous French photographer, Robert Doisneau, the key to succeeding in street photography is to walk around a lot. By exploring your city on foot and paying attention to the variety of scenes and subjects available, you can achieve the desired results.
To make street photography more convenient, it is recommended to use an extremely compact and lightweight camera that can be easily carried all day. It is also important to keep the camera in your hand, powered up, and ready to use at all times. Set the manual focus to capture action within a certain distance, as this can boost the camera’s responsiveness. Remember that a perfectly timed imperfect shot is often better than a perfectly shot photo with bad timing.
Urban Street Photography Tips: Do’s and Don’t s
Taking photographs of people in public spaces without their consent can violate their privacy and security. In some countries, the legal view is that individuals have a right to privacy even when in public. Thus, it may be considered an offense to take photographs of people without their permission. Moreover, in some countries, people may be culturally offended by being photographed.
People around the world have become more conscious of photography. When photographing individuals who are the focus of the image, it is safest and most polite to obtain permission first.
As a street photographer, it is important to understand that photographing a large number of people is not necessarily problematic. However, it is crucial to be considerate of the feelings of the people being photographed, which takes precedence over your right to take photographs. This street photography tip can help avoid any potential issues.
How to be successful in street photography?
Success in street photography can mean different things to different people, but here are some tips that can help you achieve your goals and improve your street photography skills:
- Find your style: Experiment with different techniques, approaches, and subjects until you find a style that resonates with you. Develop a unique perspective and vision that sets you apart from other photographers.
- Practice regularly: The more you practice street photography, the better you’ll become. Make it a habit to go out and shoot regularly, and challenge yourself to try new things and take risks.
- Study the work of other street photographers: Look for inspiration and ideas from other street photographers, both past and present. Study their techniques and approaches, and try to understand what makes their work successful.
- Build a network: Connect with other street photographers and photography communities online and offline. Share your work, get feedback, and learn from others. Attend workshops, exhibitions, and events to meet other photographers and build your network.
- Be patient and persistent: Success in street photography takes time and effort. Be patient, keep practicing, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks or failures. Learn from your mistakes and keep pushing yourself to improve.
- Be ethical: Street photography often involves photographing strangers in public spaces. Respect people’s privacy and dignity, and be aware of local laws and customs regarding photography in public places.
- Share your work: Don’t be afraid to share your work with others. Share your photos online, exhibit your work in galleries or other venues, and enter your work into competitions or awards. Sharing your work can help you build your reputation and reach a wider audience.
More street photography tips
Here are some tips for street photography that might be helpful:
- Be respectful: When taking pictures of people on the street, it’s important to be respectful and considerate of their privacy. Ask for permission if you can, or avoid taking pictures of people who seem uncomfortable with it.
- Keep your camera ready: Street photography often involves capturing fleeting moments and unexpected scenes, so it’s important to keep your camera ready at all times. Anticipate what might happen next and be prepared to capture the shot quickly.
- Use the right settings: Depending on the lighting and conditions, you may need to adjust your camera settings to get the best shot. For example, you might need to use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion or a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field.
- Look for interesting subjects and backgrounds: Street photography is all about capturing interesting and unique moments, so keep an eye out for subjects that catch your eye. Also, pay attention to the background and try to find settings that add context and interest to your photos.
- Experiment with different angles and perspectives: Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with different angles and perspectives. Shoot from high or low angles, try unusual compositions, and look for reflections and shadows that can add interest to your shots.
- Practice patience and persistence: Street photography can be challenging and unpredictable, so it’s important to be patient and persistent. Keep shooting, even if you’re not getting the results you want right away, and don’t be afraid to try again another day.
- Study the work of other street photographers: Look for inspiration from other street photographers and study their techniques and approaches. You can learn a lot from their work and use it to improve your own skills and style.
Best street photography artists
There are many talented street photographers out there, and the list of the “best” street photographers is subjective and open to interpretation. However, here are some notable street photographers whose work has made a significant impact on the genre:
- Henri Cartier-Bresson: Considered by many to be the father of modern street photography, Cartier-Bresson’s work captured candid moments and human interactions with a remarkable sense of timing and composition.
- Vivian Maier: Maier’s work gained recognition only after her death, but her unique and insightful photos of life in New York City and Chicago in the 1950s and 60s have made her one of the most celebrated street photographers of all time.
- Bruce Gilden: Known for his unconventional and often confrontational approach to street photography, Gilden’s work captures the raw energy and grit of urban life.
- Garry Winogrand: Winogrand’s prolific output and eclectic subject matter have made him one of the most influential street photographers of the 20th century. His work captured the vibrancy and chaos of American life in the mid-century.
- Alex Webb: Webb’s use of color and his ability to capture complex scenes with multiple layers and perspectives make his work unique and visually striking. His photos often convey a sense of tension and ambiguity.
- Mary Ellen Mark: Mark’s compassionate and insightful photos of people on the fringes of society have made her one of the most respected and influential documentary and street photographers of the past century.
These are just a few of the many talented street photographers out there, and there are countless others whose work is worth exploring and studying.