Andrew Walmsley is a new and talented photographer and blogger who has created phlogger.co.uk. Within this article he discusses his 5 top tips for street photography, simple and easy to execute they will instantly improve your street photography. Don’t forget to download the free Street Photography E Book Andrew has created.
Tip 1- Location
As a beginner you really should have understanding about the place you want to photograph, so do your research. Ensure you understand if there are any laws preventing you from taking shots in public places or of people. It is better to know the law than face the risks, why make it hard on yourself and cause problems.
Because you are beginning it would be good practise to shoot somewhere you know. Places you may consider include familiar streets and where the public might flow or congregate giving you that chance of a street photo. You could think about public transport, there will be prime places for large groups of people and you have a variety of choices – rail, air, bus or underground.
Tip 2: Gear
Many areas of photography get caught up in technology, whether it is the camera itself, some amazing glass or the best lighting. With street photography a beginner has a great opportunity to practise and achieve the results of a person with a top of the range camera. It is far more important to use the same equipment over and over, learn how to work it without looking. Personally, learning on a Canon 550D, practising during winter nights on the streets, was the technique which allowed me to concentrate on the composition and improve.
There are many choices for cameras that are suitable, but having something small and light does have real advantages, you can look more of a casual person on the street just taking a snap than what you are – a photographer. Using fixed (prime) lenses with wide apertures like f1.8 can help you in those dark areas and if budget is problem buy an old manual lens, it just takes practice.
Don’t be afraid of using any mode on your camera, using “P” allows you to concentrate on composition while it takes care of the exposure. Remember the camera is a tool that helps you get the shot. Don’t ever let anyone tell you shooting manual is important, understanding each mode and using them to your advantage will help you.
Tip 3: Rules
Even as a beginner you may have some appreciation for photography rules like “rule of third”, but in this sense street photography can be different. Learn and practise the rules of composition, like leading lines, space, framing and rules of odds, as they can all add to your end product. Make yourself challenges to include one element of composition within your street photography, then add more and more.
Once you master composition you can use your camera settings to aid you, by using metering modes like spot you will aid your exposure under difficult lighting scenarios (very useful at night). Sometimes events happen so fast on the street, so quality or composition can suffer, it is more important to get the shot so use whatever equipment helps you achieve this.
Tip 4: Fear
The main headache of street photography as a beginner, will always be fear. It is without doubt the hardest genre of photography because you are dealing with strangers. On the streets there is a fine line between privacy and publicity, one person may feel you are intruding on their privacy, even if you are shooting in a public place. Fear is useful emotion, it proves you are human and care for what you are doing. To start beating this the advice is simple, start with subjects in the distance (use a zoom if you need to) and get closer and closer as you become more confident.
You will be approached, looked at, questioned or worse, just think how you would feel if the shoes were the other way around, but be brave, take small steps, practise and smile!
To help you develop your confidence with strangers check out:
Tip 5: Attitude
One of the elements of your journey with street photography will be how you react with the public, you can hide away or speak to the public. You could stay inconspicuous at first and wear dark colours to blend into the crowd. If you go out wearing bright clothing or dressing differently to the public you will stand out and be more noticeable.
Another part is your choice of gear, if you do choose a large modern SLR people will notice and tend to keep out your way and watch you out the corner of their eye. Take out a film camera or old technology and people are different, there is an immediate draw to the older generations as it may bring back memories and invoke conversation.
Being polite is paramount when starting out, if someone see’s you, just smile back and walk off casually. Once you get used to this you can start liaising with your subjects, say hello and tell them why you have taken their photo- a compliment goes a long way. After approaching my first couple on the street who posed for a shot, they took a business card and ended up subscribing to the blog!
Download: ANDREW’S FREE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY E BOOK.
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