|Street photo is a story about the present. Street photography reflects reality. Each moment is beautiful and unique, and street photographers give us this opportunity that seems |
rather unreal – to capture the moment. To feel it again. To stir up the memories.
Plunge into THERE and turn THAT moment into THIS one.
Is it enough to learn the basics to be able to create this kind of art? Can a couple of tutorials for beginners be a solid startup? Is it possible to fit street photography into a nice tidy box and give it a precise definition? Absolutely not.
You can never fully describe it, but you know it when you see it.
The same can be said about the process itself. Despite a popular belief, which sometimes even doesn’t consider street photography as an autonomous genre, there are lots of traps and pitfalls in this field.
That’s why our team decided to do such an enormous amount of work and create this universal guide for you – the people who wanna be top street photographers. Having learnt numerous interviews, personal blogs, and photos of the best street photographers, having consulted with more than 10 professionals, we’ve found out lots of new and creative street photography tips that could replace a full-time course by a famous photographer.
So, if you wanna grow as a street photographer, learn to feel the street, use your selective vision, and also value your time and money, this how-to-guide is exactly what you need.
What is Street Photography?
|Street photography is a visual form of poetry, where beauty and form blend to prompt the |
Among various definitions of street photography in countless blogs, forums, Facebook discussions, we failed to find the one that can fully unpack the essence of outdoor photography without limiting our vision. And vision is nearly the synonym of the street photo itself.
One definition says that it is just documenting human life without editing it, like capturing the essence of humanity in one picture. Another claims that street photography is a beautiful and spontaneous art form that only requires some patience and luck to get a good shot.
Also, some are sure that outdoor photography is impossible without capturing emotions and expressions in people’s body language or on their faces. On the contrary, others doubt if a street photo requires a presence of people on the image at all – the main for them is to cause emotional reactions in the viewers.
Street photography is often associated with capturing action in its most epic moment, telling a story in one shot, sending a message that builds a series of pictures in the viewer’s imagination, or adding some humor and satire to the photo, without embarrassing anyone.
So, what is street photography?
Since we give a fresh look at outdoor photography, we see it as an instinct.
A street photo becomes great thanks to the instinct. Everything you’re learning and working on gets you ready to that very moment when you won’t have time to think about what you’re gonna do – you just do it instinctively. And the more you learn and practice, the more skillfully your photography instinct becomes.
Thus, the magic of the perfect photo is not in choosing between color and black & white, not in editing, equipment, and camera. All that doesn’t matter.
The best street photo is spontaneous, the one you weren’t thinking about a lot – you just got it. Instinctively. Like it had been always supposed to be great.
|Like frogs, which can snatch an insect so quickly after waiting for some time, street photographers are observers and hunters too. First, they find a way to connect with the world naturally without being noticed, then they wait for a while, and as soon as they see their potential prey, they don’t think anymore – each action is led by instincts now. And only if the photographer is skillful enough not to interrupt that instinct, a great “tasty” street photo shows up.|
Street Photography: Law and Ethics
“Getting caught is part of the game. It’s still a candid reaction – look at Charlie Kirk’s strobe stuff. Once they’re mugging, though, it’s a different genre.”
There are no ultimate ethics in street photography — you just dictate your own code of ethics for yourself.
On the one hand, there is the idea that “real” street photo involves going up to a subject, talking to them and asking to take their photo. The other style is a more candid and stealthy approach, arguing that you should never contact with your subject to remain objective.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot photos with or without permission — there is always a chance that your subject won’t like being photographed, or they might not like you sharing the photo.
Regarding the law, in some places its technically legal to take photos, but illegal to publish them without the consent of people photographed, e.g. Japan. In others there’s an expectation of privacy even in public – taking compromising or embarrassing photos can be regarded as an invasion of privacy in China and grounds for a lawsuit. In the same time, you can legally take photographs of anyone in a public place in the USA and the United Kingdom.
As a general rule, a photographer can sell the images he takes, but releases may be required for specific uses of those images. In short, if one is just selling prints to hang on a wall, for example, that is a very different thing than selling digital files with a license to use the images therein for advertising purposes.
Be respectful and always take steps to protect yourself and keep you and your hobby away from trouble.
These rules can help you:
Rule 1: don’t take pictures of children. Parents often don’t like it.
Rule 2: don’t be creepy. If someone is wearing something sexy or tight, avoid taking pictures of them.
Rule 3: if somebody notices you and motions clearly that they don’t want their photo taken, respect it.
Here’s another thing to consider: just because you take a photo, doesn’t mean you have to use it. If something seems too personal, or too much like an invasion of privacy, you shouldn’t use it.
There is no single correct answer for the etiquette. You need to be comfortable being photographed to really be comfortable photographing others.
If you are trying for more candid shots there are the techniques you can use:
- make it look like you are taking a picture of something behind them
- use less conspicuous equipment
- get closer and use a wider lens
- shoot with as much depth of field as possible.
With the variety of situations that you can come across suddenly in street photography, this strategy allows you to succeed more often than not.
Streetlife photography is so hard, but it makes street photographers more unique and special.
|All art forms are interlinked.Poems can sound like music. Music freezes in the form of architecture. Architecture becomes a painting. Painting can have a smell. Smells give birth to literature. Literature – to cinema.Photography is all-in-one: it sounds, it smells, it tells the story.For us, photography comes real, it moves and lives.|
General Street Photography Tips and Rules
Tip No 1: ‘The best camera is the one that is with you when you want to capture the moment’. Always grab your camera with you.
Street photography is one of the most feared and uncertain types of photography, in which almost nothing is in your control and almost everything is based on luck, persistence and the ability to see and capture the moment. By understanding the basics of photography, you can do your creative pictures.
Here are the top 5 street photography tips and rules for beginners:
There should be no posing or anything artificially contrived. It is this main rule, which gives the genre its highly sophisticated reputation. Yes, it is very difficult to snatch something of value from constantly changing the flow of life, but with a determination to improve, and a lot of practice, you will be able to do that.
2. Slow down
You have to slow down because you can miss something really cool. If you are just moving through the crowd, this is not enough. Slow down, let the subjects come to you, stay in one place for a while. You’re definitely going to get better results that way.
3. Learn from the Masters
When exploring the photographs of the greats, it becomes apparent that the best photographs contain many elements, factors, and details that the photographer arranged only by the careful analysis and an awareness of how valuable these many details are when “framing” the subject.
4. Relax and don’t look like you’re doing anything wrong
Because if you do, you will draw more attention to yourself and you will look very suspicious. For a beginner, street photography is a challenge. But try to relax and enjoy. Don’t run after you wrap the shot. If people notice you, and they want to talk to you, please go and talk to them. Tell them what you’re doing. A lot of people don’t know what street photography is and if you explain to them that you’re recording life in the city, they will be completely understanding. Tell them why they draw your attention because they were interesting and you captured something special.
5. Do it out of pure personal satisfaction
Street photography is not going to give you hundreds of likes on social media like the picture of your cute cat or flower pictures. People just do not react to it the same way as to photos of nature or cute pets. So don’t expect that. Do it really for yourself. If people enjoy your work and they want to see more, that’s a bonus. But remember why you first picked up the camera, and why you chose street photography. It’s all about your love for humanity and the desire to record life. You do it to make yourself happy, not to make everybody else happy. It’s really something that you should do for yourself.
So, if you want to see improvement in your outside photography, you need to use these tutorials and practice them on a pretty regular basis.
|A photo can make you who you are not, but would like to be.A photo can show what is hidden inside you.A photo won’t show anything if you can’t look further than the focal length.|
Camera Equipment, Lenses and Technical Settings in Street Photography
If your interest is street photography, the perfect camera for you is the one, which is small, compact, quick, and unobtrusive.
A good street camera has the following characteristics:
- a quiet shutter
- interchangeable lenses
- fast lenses (F-Stop of F2.0 or lower)
- no shutter lag
- RAW capture mode
- the ability to focus well in dark places
- usable high ASA
- a good viewfinder and lightweight enough to take with you wherever you go.
A digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) will meet all or most of these properties. But remember that due to its weight, size and overall presence, DSLR’s will require more skill in handling discreetly.
For street photography, you can use every single camera and lens out there. Most cameras on the market are far more similar than dissimilar. Regardless of what camera you buy, it will be an excellent choice for streets photos.
There is a debate on the choice of lenses. There are photographers who believe that using longer focal length and thus standing further away, helps to stay unnoticed and ensures that the subject remains natural.
Another ones find it to be a wrong approach, never having used a longer than 85mm focal length for street photography. This is one of the reasons why many good street photographers prefer small, wide – angle prime lenses. The most important advantage of a wide-angle lens is, however, the sense of presence. Such a lens also allows for more background, which means more context.
Tele-lenses, on the other hand, compress perspective leaving out more detail that may otherwise be interesting. They make the subject seem more distant. Looking at an image taken with a 200mm lens feels like you’re looking at something that’s very far away. It’s just not as involving to observe. For this reason, some photographers usually choose a wider-angle lens, ranging from 50mm to 24mm or even less.
For most situations, you are better off using shutter speeds that are fast enough to capture images without introducing camera shake.
Remember, photography is always a balancing act between Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
Another thing to ask yourself when you want to buy a camera, “What kind of features do I not need?”
For example, are you a photographer who isn’t in a rush to get your photos processed, and you enjoy the process of shooting? Then perhaps you don’t need a digital camera— the film might work better for you.
Do you need manual-focusing features, or do you prefer autofocus? If you prefer autofocus over manual-focusing, then perhaps a rangefinder isn’t for you.
Are you a photographer who doesn’t care for technical settings too much, or don’t need to customize every single button? Then perhaps get a camera without customizable buttons and make your life easier.
Head outside with your camera and turn it on. Have a great day shooting. Return home with a load of shots you’re happy with and began post-editing.
When is it time to switch to new camera equipment?
As soon as you start feeling it. If there are no financial reasons for sale and purchase, ask yourself if you’ve grown out of your current camera equipment.
If you feel like it’s not enough for you anymore, want something better and start to NOTICE the technical difference between your camera and the one costing twice more, it’s time for an update. However, if you see both cameras rather cool, it makes no sense to buy expensive equipment. The main reason is that you still won’t be able to unleash the full potential of the premium camera equipment.
|You can buy some cool lens, but can’t buy a “see a great shot” function.You can buy a fantastic camera, but can’t buy a “take a beautiful photo” function.You can buy a cool preset or retouching course, but can’t buy a “retouch professionally” function.You can buy or steal an idea, a location, a model, but you’ll never buy your subjective, individual, and unique vision. Your photos are not an achievement of Canon company, as well as a tasty dish is not a result of having an expensive pot.Millions of photographers worldwide have the same camera equipment but none of them have the same photos.You’ll never buy a lot of experience, a sense of taste, a sense of beauty, a sense of style. These are the things that take time, effort, hard work. And no money can help it.|
Composition and Light in Street Photography
It seems that it’s already been said so much about city street photography, that there’s nothing left to discuss. The main recommendations are outlined, endless street photoshoot ideas are offered, the rules of working with ‘accidental models’ are set.
However, street photography keeps developing, and new best street photographers’ names appear. How do they manage to keep their art interesting, when everything seems to be already invented?
Composition and light are the key.
Thanks to these two aspects street photography opportunities are not exhausted – moreover, the innovation has no limits!
In this block, we’ve gathered something new and unusual in terms of composition and light in street photography. The tricks, able to take the image to the next level of aesthetic perception.
For street photography, there is no perfect lightning: from warm soft and even dawn light to harsh midday light – everything goes. So, obviously, street photography is the best genre to learn how to work with light very quickly.
Don’t be afraid of playing and experimenting with light when taking street photos: use a flash to illuminate your subjects.
In street photography, composition works the same way as in all other genres, however, there are still a couple of issues to discuss.
- Remember that EVERY element counts, no matter what it is. The main task is to find a way to bring everything together in the right way.
- In street photography, it rarely happens that the subject alone is all that counts. So, be careful with framing and blurring the background.
- Create more complex scenes, see far beyond the main subject.
- Add a new meaning to an image due to the composition.
|Useful skill.Did you know that art lessons can be very useful for you as a street photographer?They expand your knowledge of the composition, give a better understanding of how to apply the compositional techniques in your shoots.Help you see each picture in the lines, points, and spots that make the composition.Teach to combine colors in a photo correctly.Teach to create a complex storyline in the photo by combining people and objects.Explain the link between light and color.And what is your unusual way of developing your professional skills?|
Creative and Useful Tips and Techniques for Street Photographers
The miracle of photography is that you can capture any moment. Stop it. Remember it.
But to show that very atmosphere, that very emotion you felt at that moment, the way you felt in that place or in that period of your life, is not so easy.
There are thousands of tricks to get an enchanting result and thousands of ways to destroy it… Much depends on the processing, lenses, angles, settings, on every little thing like a mole above the lip, a zipper on the bag. But while all this particularly deals with math, real art depends on the author, who either feels or doesn’t.
And this is what the inexplicable and incomprehensible miracle of photography is.
Every photographer deals with the moments when there is a shortage of new ideas, and it seems that all your pictures look boring and dull.
While there is no universal recipe for taking a good shot, every photographer has a set of tricks, which invariably comes in handy. Here are street photography tips and tutorials, shared by professionals we’ve interviewed, on how to be creative and not lose the sense enclosed into the definition of street photography. Especially, it will be useful for beginners.
- Get out of your comfort zone
Of course, street photography with all its pitfalls is one of the best ways to do it.
Change locations, make another type of digital photography, unusual for you. For example, do landscape photography from time to time. Or join a friend in the studio for a portrait. It gets you out of your comfort zone and really makes you look at things differently.
- Never stop learning
You can meet people who are older and while some of them look fantastic, another one – not so good. Some of them are active, creative, and full of life. Others are feeling senseless in life. What is the secret of ageing well and staying creative? To never stop learning.
- Rent different lens
Sometimes, a bit of new equipment is enough to spark a photographer’s interest in spontaneous photo shoots and exploration. It doesn’t need to be expensive. Even renting an 85mm f/1.8 prime, or a macro lens, is enough to bring out a lot of creativity and excitement.
- Focusing on details
Some of the best street photography is focused on the details, not the whole picture. When you are shooting on the streets, you can focus on small parts. This means that instead of taking a full-body shot of someone on the streets, focus on their hands, their feet, their face, or anything else they are holding. By showing less of what is going on in the photograph, you create more mystery in your image.
- Inspiration • Creativity • Passion
Those three words pretty much sum up what the creative pursuits consists of. Those are the three building blocks that really keep you moving forward, they inspire you, compel you to stay creative.
The passion may be the most important word of the three. Passion is the fuel that can sustain us through the times when we might not be feeling so creative. Your passion for what you love, for your creativity, will help you overcome any slump.
What do you like to do? What kind of photography do you love to create? What kind of stories do you prefer to tell? Whatever it is, be passionate about it. That will take your photography up to the next level.
|How to not get caught?Most people hate being shot when they don’t know about that. Avoid that natural reaction to immediately take the camera from the eye after you take a photo. Instead, leave it there as they walk through the scene as if you’re just photographing the background.Even if the person first think that you took their photo, after looking back, they’ll make sure that you’re still with the camera at your eye and will likely think that they just got on the way.|
The Best Street Photographers
I like to think street photography is more than just guys jumping over puddles. One of the most famous “street photographs” taken by a photographer who never even called himself a “street photographer.”
© Henri Cartier-Bresson
Talking about the best street photographers is talking about the ones who create art instead of just taking a pic, who have something to teach others, who have photography as a lifestyle, a way of thinking, and an integral part of the routine.
A real photographer goes to bed as a photographer, wakes up as a photographer, walks as a photographer, travels as a photographer… They’re noticing interesting shots when walking along the street, they stare at strangers if their appearance is a great fit to realize a photographer’s idea, they always think like photographers.
The first top street photographers didn’t even consider themselves street photographers. The just captured the moments and enjoyed it. Some of them are:
- Alfred Stieglitz
- Berenice Abbott
- William Eggleston
Talking about the role models in city street photography, the classics are:
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
- Steve Mccurry
- Joel Meyerowitz
- Eric Kim
- Bruce Gilden
- Benjamin Lowy
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, street photographers took the street as a central focus of their photos. They are:
- Raghubir Singh
- Martin Parr
- Mary Ellen Mark
- Sylvia Plachy
- Bruce Gilden
- Jeff Mermelstein
- Alex Webb
- Philip-Lorca diCorcia
Now, photography becomes more and more popular, so that a lot of new names have appeared recently. If talking about the last year’s favorites in the yearly Street Photography Awards 2018, they are:
- Gabrielle Weinstein
- Kougemitros Iraklis
- Sylvain Biard
- René Mollet
- Kraipuk Thanudkit Tankraipuk
- Coddington Julia
- Eldar Khamitov
- Chris Byrnes
- Marijke Mooy
- William Bullard
- Elahe Abdolahabadi
- Sebastien Durand
|Photography is constantly developing. It dies and comes alive again. It died when the cinema was born, then television, then digital films came to replace the photo… But it is still alive, it doesn’t give up, and adapts to new conditions.Today, more and more people are becoming photographers, but few understand what’s real urban street photography is. Most follow the new trends and all this affects the quality and perception of photography itself. Perhaps, now we are also experiencing the little death of an “academic” photo, as some kind of anarchy is going on. But maybe, it’s just another death of photography that surely leads to something absolutely new and fantastic?|