Street photography is a genre of photography set in the fast-moving world out there. It revolves around capturing action and emotions sizzling in the streets around us. It might sound easy but in reality, it is very difficult as it requires action in the spur of a moment and an eye that can distinguish extraordinary events.
For this, you require patience as well as agility with a creative and open mind. And these abilities require a lot of practice and take time. Moreover, street photography is symbolized with wine as it ages extremely well. Thus keeping this in mind, one has to look for changing trends to capture events that will fade in glory.
But learning this complex art of street photography in a short time has puzzled many. Learning and practicing can only get you so far and that too very gradually. You will have to put a lot of time and effort along with dedication and determination but still, there will be some skills amiss. Because some things are learned the short way around. Similarly, to excel in street photography there are some secret rules which you should learn by heart as they will take you a long way in a short time.
We have shared our bag of tricks for you to make your life easier when out on the streets. So in order to become a seasoned street photographer follow these pro tips below which we have accumulated from our experience in this field:
This might not sound much of a technical tip, but it helps to seek out amazing content for your images. When you stop moving you can focus better and identify interesting and powerful events near you. So don’t treat street photography as a beautiful stroll of the city because when you are walking you can barely pay attention. Even if you do notice an extraordinary moment, it flies by before you can ready your camera.
Thus, for capturing quality street photos, you will have to often stay still and be patient so that when the right moment comes by you are not out of position. Secondly, when you are still even ordinary things intrigue you and you can capture the extraordinary embedded inside ordinary events. This is one of the finesse of street photography to see what others don’t see.
Lastly slowing down is the key when people are moving because if you move with them you will fail to get a sharp shot while framing correctly simultaneously as shooting during motion is very tough. So to pull off coordination with ever-moving street life you have to do exactly the opposite by staying still. This doesn’t mean remaining in the same spot forever, just make a point to wait for a few minutes every few blocks.
This way you will be to explore your surroundings better and will find an array of events unfold before you. The number of moments that can occur in front of you when you are just standing around will definitely surprise you.
Focusing on the subject’s eyes
Do you want to improve your street photography which focuses on portraiture by 100%? Then all you have to do is just pay attention to your subject’s eyes. You might find this trick to old school but trust us it works at all times. It is still the way pro do things because as they say old is gold. This is a guaranteed technique because people normally hide their emotions but their eyes speak it all. Even a skilled introvert won’t be able to manipulate their eyes.
So don’t focus on the face as emotions remain hidden there, instead pay attention to the eyes as the eyes will never lie… Thus, if you want more than just blank stares then search for that hint of emotion within the eyes. Mark our word, you will certainly see a transformative effect in your photographs.
Secondly, not only eyes are the way of discovering emotions but they are ways to build a connection. Direct eye contact is integral as it helps create powerful connections with the subject. Even though street photographers aim to remain unnoticed as secrecy aides their creativity, but when capturing people in their habitat it is a direct look in the eyes is exactly what is needed to make the image stand out. This doesn’t mean that the photograph can’t be candid.
The look can be purely original if you successfully capture the subject in their first glance before they can mask their reactions. Thus eye contact can be completely candid if it is coincidental!
Focusing on Details
If you think street photography is about capturing the greater picture, than this is where you are going wrong. The tip is to never treat street shooting as crazy juxtapositions or try to fit in as many subjects, events or emotions in it. The trick is focusing on the details rather than elaborating the frame because it is the intricacies that hold the most beauty. In fact, capturing meticulous images has become an eye-catching way to phrase street life.
Too many things happening is mainstream and won’t make your photography stand out. So the tip is to simplify the surroundings and explore ‘little things’ as these things have big stories to tell. Let the viewers ponder over the tiny hints about life which they usually miss in all the hustle. Give them a unique perspective by working on the details that would intrigue them such as the build of a person’s hands, texture of clothing, in-depth expressions, etc…
Instead of widening the frame, emphasis on one object framed very close. Portray the most powerful emotion and creative idea via the simplest of the scene and hook the viewer! Aim for evocative photography.
Shooting at high ISO
With present-day Digital cameras, you can use the power of ISOs to create amazing images. Usually shooting at around ISO 1600 and more to produce ideal results except for when shooting still objects or when in bright sunlight. Use this tip consistently because shooting with high ISO will help you gain sharper images as it leads to the use of faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures.
Thus, if you are making use of a decent digital camera, remember this tip as you will yourself notice that it will create much better quality images. Even though there will be extra grain, but the results will still be beautiful as long as you don’t brighten the exposure a lot in post-production. Just ensure that when shooting with high ISO, expose correctly or the image will get ruined.
Finding scenes without people
Street photography is usually wrongly assumed as being associated entirely with people on the streets. Yes, it does revolve around human nature, but that doesn’t mean that each shot should have someone in it. People can be present in some scenes but not all because there is an infinite amount of opportunities for epic shoots without people as well. You just have to broaden your mind and look discreetly.
Don’t take this tip to the core or you will end up conducting architectural photography. Try to find a balance between portraits, emotions, action, and object. Also, do not confuse street photographs with urban landscapes as urban photos are straight shots that portray the environment while street photos depict more about human nature. So when capturing people-less images, make them more subjective by conveying a message through them.
Learn from the image Layers of the City which represents more than just a city. It relays the transformation of Manhattan from a seedy underbelly to a sleek neighborhood. That is why it is one of the most renowned street photos ever as it combines the environment with human nature to produce a meaningful image.
Wandering at Night to make most of Artificial Light
You might think that day time is the most rewarding time to shoot as you can most of the sunlight but that only means you have never experienced the nightlife. You will be surprised to find that night is one of the most fun times to be on the street as it opens a completely new dimension to the street world.
Everything looks different in artificial light and you will find images to be more moody and powerful when taken during nighttime as compared to their counterparts captured during the day. The authentic and colorful look of artificial light will brighten up your images without the need for the sun as the streetlamps and glowing storefront signs will do their work. So to take full advantage of nightlife the tip is to find bright areas and shoot at ISO 1600 or 3200. We guarantee that you will be awestruck by your work.
Using eyes and spontaneity instead of the viewfinder
Do you know what made Garry Winogrand one of the most renowned photographers of all time, his instincts! So if you want to be anywhere like him then trust your guts and rely on what you see. Don’t make the common mistake of relying on your viewfinder and forgetting what your eyes and institution tell you. If you forget your perspective and depend too much on your camera to do the work for you, then street photography will become a lot tougher for you.
Prefer your own vision rather than the viewfinder because the camera lens hinders spontaneity significantly. This is because at the time the moment will happen, your head will be on the viewfinder and you will notice it a half-second too slow thus hurting your ability to capture flying moments. Make your eyes the real viewfinder and click the shutter on impulse. Be aware of everything around you so that you can anticipate the special moments that are about to occur and can position the camera accordingly within no time.
Practice to scan the area with your hands on the shutter, eyes open wide rather than on the viewfinder, take your eyes off the environment only when you have identified the scene.
Secondly, do plan ahead of your shooting but as soon as you are in the scene embrace your gut feeling because it exists for a reason. So take advantage of your reflexes and when everything is in motion stop worrying about every little detail. Instead, think whether you like what you are capturing or not.
If your heart says yes and you are having fun then go for it. It doesn’t matter what other people will think. No matter how weird the scene is if you find it beautiful capture it because it is your drive that matters. Do not let the brain talk you out of it, as street photography is an art that comes from the heart, not the mind. In the end, your image will reflect your confidence and you will see a lot of improvement when you trust your guts.
Just don’t go overboard with this tip by treating your camera like a machine gun and shooting every single time there is an inkling of a good photograph. Do filter your thoughts and distinguish good opportunities from bad ones. Also, turn off continuous shooting as special moments should be captured within a shot or two.
Summing it up, street photography requires a lot more than just technical skills. What it really needs is you to portray both motion and emotion by blending them optimally. For this, you require special skills that we have imparted.
Follow them as they will help you through thick and thin, and you will end up becoming a pro. Lastly, do not worry initially about capturing good photographs, just be at the moment and enjoy. This way a lot of events will come to you and you will eventually end up with something special when you least expect. So don’t get frustrated and immerse yourself in street life because the more you enjoy it, the better you will become.