It’s a crazy world out there. Taking candid photographs of people with events unfolding spontaneously is what makes street photography fun. As fun as street photography is, it comes with its own set of challenges. Kai Wong, Joshua K. Jackson, and Craig Whitehead discuss 10 tips to improve your street photography:
1. Overcome the Fear
Being scared and nervous is completely acceptable for a street photographer. But, as Jackson suggests, you need to deal with your fear and negative thoughts. And a bad way to tackle that fear is using a telephoto lens. Avoid telephoto lenses as much as possible and go for wider primes. It will force you to get close to the subject. Something like a 35mm or a 50mm will do just fine for street photography.
If it is really difficult to break out of your comfort zone, Jackson suggests that you take the role of a tourist and pretend you’re shooting a movie. Make use of the LCD screen. Another tip is not to look at the person you’re photographing. This will make them assume that you’re shooting something behind them.
2. Upgrade Skills Not Gear
Gear is important and not so important at the same time. Brand doesn’t matter, but make sure that whatever camera you are using, you are comfortable using it. Upgrading your skills by practicing regularly instead of getting new and expensive gear will help you to take better photographs.
3. Have Your Camera Ready
While you’re on the move out in the streets, always have your camera ready. Carry it around your neck or use a wrist strap. By definition, street photography is very dynamic and anything can happen any second. As such, always have your gear ready.
4. Remove Technical Distractions
Be prepared to capture the spontaneous moments. You don’t want to be busy making technical decisions on things like ISO, shutter speed, aperture during the “moment.” While shooting in manual mode is great, don’t shy away from using semi automatic or automatic modes as far as street photography is concerned.
5. Tell a Story
If an image is easy to take, chances are that it will not turn out to be too great. Challenge yourself and try to take images that have a narrative, or those that tell a story. You have the control over how you want to present something, how you frame it, and how you compose it.
6. Everyone Shoots Bad Shots
Not every photo that you take needs to be great. No matter whether the photographer is highly experience or just a beginner, they will take many bad shots. So, do not judge yourself over every shot and don’t stress yourself.
“It’s not about how many bad shots you take but recognizing when you take a good shot and why it’s a good shot.”
Instead of being happy taking a few shots, take as many photos as you can while you’re out on the street. This will increase your likelihood of getting that magical shot. Remember this:
“You can always delete images but you can’t go back and create more once the moment is gone.”
7. Create Your Own Luck
There is no need for perfect weather conditions or for the lighting to be perfect. You need to create your own luck. Mostly it all depends on how much time you spend on the street, and how much attention you pay to the events going around you. Anticipate what might happen and be patient.
8. Forget Technical Perfection
Put more of your effort into capturing the decisive moment. Pay less attention to perfecting your images technically; stuff like color fringing, bokeh, and sharpness are secondary. Just be there at the right place to capture moments at the right time.
9. Look for Something New
Whitehead shares that he has developed a habit of looking back more often. Being fixated on what is happening in front of you can lead you to miss out on something happening behind you. Look around your environment to see what’s happening.
10. Use Minimal Post Processing
As discussed earlier, street photography is more about the story and the moments. You can’t create an image after you’ve already taken it. Don’t attempt to augment or post-process a bad photo to make it look good. It’s the content and the story that matter and not how you edit it. So keep the edit minimal and focus more on creating the image.
I hope these handy tips from the street pros inspire you to take better street photographs.
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