There's a lot that goes into successful street photography. i'll try to open up a few subjects, for your consideration Awareness and Focus I'm in a zone when I street shoot. I'm looking for slices of life, expressive moments, odd juxtapositions, funny scenes, interesting people. I'm totally focused on the scene, I'm part of it as I'm walking through it. Constantly watching, looking, peering, seeing. In my opinion, you cannot "street shoot" in 15 minutes. For me, it takes me a while to get "in the zone," and then once there, I hope for the best - I've said it before that we make our own luck by being there. Others have said "f/8 and be there!" -- same concept. So when I'm in the zone, I hope that I find some of the above criteria met - and I usually do, but some days I have to look harder than others. make mental note as you ply your streets... there's a shot I'd been wanting for months, but i was never near this "standpipe" when someone was sitting on it... well, patience paid off and I got it. What makes this shot for me, is the indifference of the subject (hey, i'm just sittin' here, reading my newspaper...), his reflection, and the reflection of the cab. And of course, the irony of the "sitting" on the "stand" pipe....
People in Context
People shots are great, and I live for my street portraits. I really try to put people in context. So, rather than tight up to the cab driver, I waited weeks to find the right cabby (facial and other "attitude" character), the right light, and the right scene (again, I had this shot in my mental inventory before i even took it.
What works for me here is the fairly wide angle view of the street, the cab and the Waldorf-Astoria... and the absolute cooperation of the subject. I simply told him "hey, you look great, may I take your photograph? This was a one-shot-shoot, I popped in a little fill flash to get some twinkle, chatted him up a bit, asked him his name (Henri), shot, smiled, thanked him, gave him my card and was on my way all in less than a minute or two.
More "in context" and one of my favorite street portraits, is the "suit seller" who actually approached me first trying to lure me inside the men's store to buy a suit... I stopped, did a button-hook, and went right up to him... "hey, you look great here, in front of your store like this, may I take your photograph?"
Again, what works for me here is the absolute clarity of subject/environment, it's clear that he's in front of men's clothes for sale. I adore his expression, and his eyes. This shot is on my wall. In
Street shooting requires confidence.. *you* are doing nothing wrong, so don't sneak around! Put away that tele, and stick a fifty or thirty-five on your DSLR, or set your digicam's zoom to the wider end of things, and see the scene "normally," up close and personaly. This may be strange for some of you, but I assure you it gets easier after your initial trepidation wears off. The worst that can happen is people say "no, I don't want my photo taken," and so you smile and move on! The wider angles offer so much more to the viewer in my opinion, that they're worth the extra effort in becoming more comfortable ...
Learn your camera's controls, shoot in a way that let's you shoot quickly! I'm always pre-set for the most part (choice of iso, aperture) and I typically shoot in aperture priority mode. I also learn the hyperfocal distances of my lenses, so that I can shoot comfortable within a distance range. Watch the lighting, which can change by 8 or 9 stops just by turning a corner! It's really important to have all your senses focused on the job at hand. Maybe that's why i have to stop for food and starbucks so much :)
If you have a confident attitude, learn your camera inside and out, focus on the lighting, the scenes, have a mental inventory of shots you want, put people in context, show an interest in your subjects, and work swiftly and politely, you'll be rewarded with good people shots and street photos.
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