Street photography has become very popular over the past couple of years. It’s a style of photography that’s been around since the early days of film cameras, and the recent rise is partly explained by developments in technology. Digital cameras are incredibly easy to use, and you don’t need to be a skilled photographer to produce great pictures with one. The development of cameras on mobile phones means that most people always have a device to hand ready to shoot pictures. The ease of use and availability of cameras has driven the rise in street photography.
Street photography involves capturing people going about their daily lives in their natural environment. It requires the ability to react quickly, and to be able to identify potential picture opportunities before they arise. Street photography requires confidence and the ability to get on with people as well as good camera skills. The following tips will guide you to produce great pictures when you enter the world of street photography.
Keep it simple with equipment.
Successful documentary photography requires the ability to work quickly and efficiently. If the photographer is too concerned with equipment and how to use it, the moment can be lost. Use a camera you are very familiar with for street photography, and keep equipment to a minimum. A compact system camera or digital SLR is ideal. A single zoom lens will cover most situations, and allows you to vary the distance from your subjects as you shoot. Trust the camera to expose and focus each picture correctly so you can concentrate on framing and capturing the right moment.
Great street photography shots are pictures of people, and you need to be bold to point your camera at strangers. It’s possible to keep your distance from people and use a telephoto lens, but these shots look remote and lack a personal touch. The best approach for street photography is to talk to people and engage with them. Most people will be happy for you to take a picture of them if you ask. Working this way means you can take time to compose shots and even set pictures up. Always be polite and respectful, and take account of cultural differences if you are in a foreign place.
Follow the crowds.
Places where crowds gather are perfect for street photography. Markets and festivals are a rich environment for pictures of people going about their daily lives. People are often so busy they don’t even notice you are there. Cameras and photographers don’t usually stand out in busy places, and there may be other people snapping pictures around you.
Capture local color.
Although people are the main subject of street photography, always consider backgrounds and what’s around people as you frame shots. Use color to create bold and interesting images. Avoid cluttered backgrounds which can lead to disappointing pictures. Great documentary pictures illustrate people in their environments.
Shoot from the hip.
If you aren’t confident enough to approach people and ask to take a picture, consider shooting without raising the camera to your eye. Use a wide-angle lens and point the camera in the direction of your subject. You can hold the camera down at your hip or let it hang round your neck as you shoot. This style of street photography can work really well, as you capture people in a completely natural and un-planned way. The low angles can create very powerful images.