Matt Stuart is a 39-year-old London photographer who has been shooting for 18 years. His favorite types of shots are those featuring people going about their life on ordinary days. He shoots quickly and with precision despite using a completely manual Leica MP film camera. Watch as he shares some of his street photography techniques:
1. Know the light.
Because Stuart’s camera does not have an exposure meter he must rely on knowing his camera and the light. He makes use of a light meter on his phone occasionally, but most often he judges the light in his head. This knowledge can only come from practice and detailed attention to how light changes and how your camera captures the light.
2. Use manual focus.
Stuart uses a popular rangefinder focusing technique called hyperfocal distance focusing. To use this method, set the hyperfocal distance of the lens to 12 feet, for example, on a sunny day, and you might use a setting of f/8 at 1/500 of a second. At this setting, anything between infinity and 6 feet from the camera will be in focus without having to re-focus the lens. If any subject comes closer than 6 feet from the lens, pull lens to 3 feet. Using manual focus in this manner means you can focus just as quickly as, if not quicker than, an autofocus camera.
3. Shoot sunny pictures on sunny days.
When it’s nice outside, it’s easier to see the positive aspects of life. If you’re aiming for uplifting street photography sunny days are most conducive. Keep your goals for the mood of your photographs and the weather in mind when you go out to shoot.
4. Get into a groove.
You must be comfortable behind the camera in public in order to create images that are meaningful. The more you go out and shoot, the more confident you become. You get into a flow where you can sense things before they happen and know where to be to take the shot.
5. Notice the tiny things.
If you wait for momentous occasions to take photos, you may not find much to photograph. Instead search for the small, overlooked happenings of daily life. Look for human interaction and body language.
Street photography is less about cameras and gear and more about knowing the light and anticipating the right moments. Try out Matt Stuart’s street photography techniques to speed up your picture-taking process and capture compelling images of daily life.
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