I adore street photography and find it some of the most interesting photography to look at it. It really is so appealing to me. However, it is hard stuff. You would think taking your camera to a city you would find 1,000 things to photograph. Well this is true but finding ways to make them interesting and appealing is a challenge.
1. Pick one or two lenses.
You don’t want to be lugging around all your lenses while trying to capture the world around you. A great zoom would be fantastic for street photography but if you don’t have one you like you can use primes. My last trip to NYC I took my 20mm and my 50mm 1.4.
2. Choose a wide angle.
When it comes to street photography including your surroundings can help set the tone of your image. It helps to give context to your subject.
3. Don’t be afraid step in the street.
When I was in NYC I really wanted a street shot of the taxis. Of course, I was not crazy enough to step in front oncoming taxis in NYC, so I had some help. When the light changed for pedestrians to cross, I would walk into the middle of the street and take pictures of the taxis at the red light. It’s a good idea to have someone with you on the sidewalk to let you know when you need to stop snapping and get walking across the street.
4. Find a flat service to play with motion blur or panning.
There is so much movement in the city and it is a good idea to capture it. I have used railings as a tripod so I could capture a slow motion shot. It’s fun to play with panning as well and having a rail to lean on to keep you steady will help get that shot.
5. Capture people.
Feel free to snap a few pictures of the people living their lives on the street. However, please use good judgement. For example, I would never photograph children on the street. Check out this great post written by Sarah Wilkerson – Street Photography and the Law: 7 Things you Need to Know.
6. Don’t be afraid to convert to black and white.
Often times a black and white photo takes us back in time. It can help draw the viewer into your subject which is extremely important with street photography where there is so much in the image to see.
7. Shoot the details.
You can photograph people without photographing their faces. What are the details about them that you find interesting. Look for patterns in buildings that are interesting. There is plenty to photograph.
8. Ask someone to take their picture.
Yes, a super scary thought to walk up to a stranger and say, “May I photograph you.” But I did it and it isn’t so bad. When I was in NYC I saw this guy with this awesome mohawk! I loved it! Yes, I could have been sneaky and gotten the shot, but instead, I walked up to him and asked if I could photograph him. He kindly said yes. His friend then slyly says, “He’d like a copy of it.” So, I got his email and said I would send it to him. I was super nervous doing it and didn’t really think about my shot ahead of time. So I freaked out and snapped a photo. But you know what, I did it! Now, I won’t be as nervous and next time I will take some time prior to approaching the stranger to figure out the shot.
9. Get creative.
Use different compositions and framing to really show case your subject.