Street photography is probably one of the most difficult genres of photography to get into. Just the getting into bit is difficult because of the inhibitions. The whole idea of having to stand in front of a complete stranger and taking a picture can be intimidating. Eduardo Pavez Goye has some ideas to make this initiation a much smoother process:
1. Prefocus and then create a scene
Prefocusing is the technique of focusing even before the scene that you are about to capture becomes apparent.
Goye uses this technique to photograph someone interesting on the streets. He focuses and then waits for the subject to take notice of him. He actually tries to attract the person’s attention so that he can capture the shot while the subject is giving a weird look.
2. Look for human architecture
Many times when photographing a subject, you don’t have to really care whether they’re looking at you or not.
When you find an interesting character, simply go ahead and photograph them, regardless of whether they are looking at you or not.
3. Take your time
Sometimes, it’s important to spend some time and wait for the scene to unfold itself.
You might be at a good location and you know you can get the shot you have in your head. But someone might be blocking your shot or everything has not quite fallen into place yet. There is no other option but to be patient and wait until everything is right so that you can take the shot.
4. Play dumb
Often, you compose a shot and the person sees you and walks away from the scene.
If you get caught while taking a picture, just pretend that you were taking a picture of the scene, take another shot (of the scene), and walk away. It helps if you shoot with a wide angle lens, as they will have no way to know that they’re in the frame.
5. Talk to strangers
Sometimes there is absolutely no way of taking a picture without approaching the person and asking them if you can take a photo.
Sometimes you may meet someone really interesting out in the streets. Someone with a nice hair style or colorful dress walking by. You may not have enough time to make a quick picture. Approach them, explain why you want to take a picture, and more often than not, they will agree. The trick is in appearing honest (and not being creepy).
6. Embrace the awkwardness
Sometimes, despite you best efforts, your attempts to photograph someone don’t go unnoticed.
And you notice that too. And they know that you noticed. It’s an awkward moment but you all play along and the picture is taken. It is a fun game to play as long as both parties enjoy this strange complicity.
7. Talk to people if they catch you
It’s always an awkward feeling when someone catches you taking a picture of them.
Most photographers never get started in street photography because of this fear of being caught. The best thing that you can do is approach the person and explain why you took the picture and show what you have captured. Most importantly, smile and they will probably smile back.
All in all, good street photography happens with patience and care. Wait for the right moment and be respectful of others.
For further training: The Street Photography Chapter & Presets
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