No doubt about it, Street Photography is a wave to be jumped. It takes balls. There is no safe spaces or comfort zones to be found if you want to become a great street photographer. The hum drum reality of photography is that a picture will often define the personality of the photographer.
Whether it’s the way it’s been edited, the subject matter or the composition, the shot you present to the world on your chosen platform says something about you. I am by no means a vociferous street photographer. My appreciation skills for street photography far out weight my own accomplishments in this field. However, I’ve hung around enough photographers and expunged as much wisdom as I can on the subject, which I’d like to parley onto you.
1. PICK YOUR SPOT
I have a pal that visits Westminster on his days off and just takes pictures of people coming out the underground. He says it’s the easiest, safest way of getting cool images. For one, people are coming into your space, you’re not invading there’s and also its super touristic. Most people think you’re taking pics of Big Ben over their shoulder. So pick a spot with high footfall, and just be patient.
2. “OH WOW”
Another pal I know uses that line all the time when she sees someone dressed ostentatiously in the street. “Oh wow” she cries, “look at you! You have to let me take your portrait”. I’ve seen her in action and it’s dead easy, most people like having their ego fed, especially those that dress flamboyantly. Plus, using the word portrait instead of picture makes it sounds like you know what you’re doing.
3. IT MIGHT NOT BE WASTED
Just because you didn’t get the perfect snap, doesn’t mean it should hit the cutting room floor. Street photography by its very definition should display facets of vulnerability. It should have its faults and equally, not just be forgiven for them, but appreciated and loved all the more. Bit like how you love your missus for farting in her sleep!
Same theory with street photography. No picture will be perfect, it might be in focus then something will be in the background distorting the aesthetic, or it’s in focus but the expression on a kid kicking bubble-balloons make him look a demon child. Still the essence has been captured. The moment has been distilled and it’s honest.
4. SHUTTER SPEED
This is a technical one. With shutter speed I tend to go for a small aperture. If you’re shooting without a tripod, on the go and need to encapsulate a decent depth of field, then a smaller aperture will help you with achieve a faster shutter speed. For further reading on this I recommend you look up James Maher, although he goes for an f/8, f,11 or f,16, I’m much more inclined to go lower and whack up the ISO’s, perhaps it’s because the UK light is less forgiving.
If you are like myself and use a SONY A7S2 Camera, you can read my blog post on how to setup your Sony a7s2 camera.
5. LOOK AHEAD
People hustle down the streets at breakneck speeds these days. You have to check the deepest points on the horizons for your potential subjects. Thus, when they move into shot you can get them coming in to your space and it’s less obvious. Also, I’ve only ever had one person tell me to delete a picture on my camera. (And he was dodgy, probably caught him in the middle of a drug deal). Yes, you might be invading someone’s privacy by getting a shot of them, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really nothing. It really is.
You need to go to as many photo exhibitions as possible. Personally I love photo exhibitions and if I had the money I’d not only have a walk in wardrobe, a personal assistant who would walk Charlie and break in my new shoes, I’d also have a separate wing of the house dedicated to photography books. Sadly, they’re often super expensive. But there’s no better way to get inspired than by going to an exhibition. Maybe set one up? Why not hire a space and do one yourself?
In the meantime, here are a list of decent London based Street Photographers you can draw inspiration from: