Street photography may seem simple and straightforward, but it’s just the opposite. It’s not just a matter of taking photos in public areas, but of documenting and capturing the realities of everyday life.
To make your street photography more compelling, you need to acquire both skills and knowledge. It can be pretty intimidating at first, but it always turns out to be exhilarating when you get into it.
This way, not only can you snap some amazing photos that tell stories, but you can also learn a lot about society and people.
Here are ten of the most important tips and tricks I learned while taking photos on the street.
1. Lens selection
There’s no denying the importance of choosing the right lens for street photography. It is hands down one of the most critical factors that can affect or affect your street photography.
If you want to use a telephoto lens, you might get some great photos. However, a large camera and lens can be intimidating to people – especially when standing across the street with a giant lens aiming at strangers. Street photography is like a social experiment and you have to be around people to look inconspicuous.
It’s much easier to get lost in the street crowd when you grab either a prime fixed focus lens or a wide angle lens. It will help you in two different ways. First, you can capture your desired subjects without pointing a massive lens at them. Second, Prime lenses are light, small, and easy to carry.
2. Camera setting
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that camera settings play a prominent role in all genres of photography. The same goes for street photography. A good way to get started with street photography (if you’re not completely familiar with manual mode) is to switch the camera to aperture-priority mode.
Setting the ISO between 100 and 400 and your aperture to around 1: 3.5 is usually good for sunny days.
For an even easier setup, setting the aperture to f / 8 can work very well as more of the scene is in focus.
3. Understand your location
If you are new to street photography, it is important to have a good understanding of angles and to explore great places – so that you know exactly where and what to shoot.
Exploration can help you discover new things that haven’t been captured, and that’s one of the most pleasurable factors in urban street photography. You can do this by exploring suburbs, traveling the back streets, and making a to-do list to visit specific areas in the future. You don’t need a camera for this. Just walking around and finding places of interest to return to later can work great.
The best way to find out more about your region and location is to keep an eye out for events that are happening. You can look up an online events calendar or even the local newspaper to find specific days worth filming.
4th To come close
Approach isn’t just about taking sharp, high-quality photos. It’s about capturing people’s facial expressions – all the little moments and human interactions that make life special.
We discussed earlier that using a wide angle lens is great for street photography. Not only does this force you to get closer to your subjects, it also gives you an interesting perspective. Hence, your viewers will feel like they are part of the frame. The closer you get, the more interactive photos you can take.
Pro tip: I recommend using a lens with a focal length between 24mm and 50mm. A zoom lens can work well too, but is larger and can mean that the stealth aspect of street photography is sacrificed.
5. Check the laws and regulations
With a few exceptions, it is legal to take photos of people in public. But you need to understand your legal rights because if someone doesn’t want you to take his / her picture it can be called harassment. So, you need to exercise your common sense and do the necessary research.
Remember that being friendly and having good etiquette goes a long way. You can tell them about your blog, website, or even your social media page. You can also show them your business card and tell them what you do is your job and that is what you are here for. A good rule of thumb is when in doubt, ask permission.
6th Capture emotions
Streets are very good places to capture emotional moments. There are real people out there who have real lives. Some of the most phenomenal street photos invariably relate to people’s very personal and vulnerable moments and tell an interesting story.
There can be a myriad of possibilities, like a couple kissing, an angry mother, a frustrated shopkeeper, people holding hands, etc. All of these moments can be captured and are gold for street photographers.
Remember that you may have to wait for moments like this. The only way is to be patient and attentive to your surroundings.
7th Get involved with people
Taking photos on the street without being noticed is one thing, but Working and dealing with people is a completely different experience.
In this way you can not only take emotionally impressive pictures, but also perceive you as a participant. When you talk to people, they can understand that you are here to take photos. You can ask them politely and you can walk away if you see fit.
Nature has given us the best tool for dealing with people: our smile. Use this option to get permission to take some photos and don’t be afraid to show the photos you have taken. I guarantee almost 100 percent of them will allow you to use them.
8th. Always respect
Respect is by far the most important factor in developing people’s skills, and you must respect everyone you meet, regardless of their status.
Wonder if you’d like to be photographed while you are downstairs. If the answer is not, then it’s likely that others feel the same way. Just be mindful and respectful of other people’s feelings and situations. Even if it’s legal, that doesn’t mean it’s ethical.
On the other hand, it is a perfect destination if you want to raise awareness about social issues like homelessness. However, asking for permission can go a long way. And you never know that you might learn more about people’s situation and that it will give you a fuller understanding of the world.
9. Think different
Street photography is much more than just taking portraits and people.
Sometimes you can portray strong emotions, ideas, and messages by capturing the simplest of scenes. You don’t always have to capture people or try to find interesting confrontations. There is so much more you can do than try to fit as many different subjects as possible into a single shot.
Of course, it can be difficult to do in busy places. But what you can do is take a quiet stroll down a quiet street looking for interesting topics. Streets are full of graffiti, animals, buildings, architecture, random objects, etc. You can find tons of ways to take all kinds of photos that people may or may not be in.
10. Try side by side
One of the great things about street photography is the great likelihood of finding unique contrasts and comparisons. For example, you can often collect old and new architectures side by side.
You can also compare big and small, evolution and destruction, black and white, natural and artificial, and so on. You can find endless subjects with such contrasts and capture them to bring out the powerful differences and make some spectacular contrasts.
You don’t have to go out and purposely try to find confrontations. Pursuing the comparison can be time and energy consuming, and you may not have a single comparison photo at the end of the day. Again, pay attention to your surroundings and learn to spot opportunities.
Like other photography genres, street photography requires dedication, practice, creativity, and skill. It’s a mix of visual arts, photojournalism, documentary, and storytelling, and it’s extremely satisfying.