Taking photos of strangers on the street isn’t something that comes naturally to all photographers. For some, it’s the ultimate challenge. These tips from street photographer Eric Kim can help you immensely in preparing an approach for your street photography session:
Click, Pause, Move On
The most obvious giveaway that you’ve taken someone’s picture on the street is that you click the shutter and immediately drop your camera from your face. That action alone draws more attention toward you. To avoid that unwanted attention, click, hold your camera in that position for about three seconds, and then move on. Most people will feel that you’re trying to take a picture of something behind them and are simply waiting for the person to move away.
Another trick is to aim your camera up or down or left or right, and then move on.
Click, Take a Step Closer, Click, Repeat
Having spotted your subject, take your first image. Move in a step closer and take another image. Repeat this process until you’re uncomfortably close. At this point your subject will probably notice you and make eye contact, which gives you another opportunity to make one more image. But don’t quit yet. Take one more step and make another image. This is just to confuse your subject into thinking that you’re taking a photo of something in the background rather than a photo of them.
It’s a bold approach, but it often works.
Don’t Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact can be a little disconcerting. It’s often best to avoid it in street photography. In some tght spaces, if you aim your camera at someone you’re bound to get noticed. In the image below, Kim used a flash. That was kind of asking to be noticed. But what he did not do when he was looked at, however, was to look back.
Avoiding eye contact helps to diffuse a situation, whereas making eye contact is mostly construed as aggression. With wide angle lenses, you can make good images without having to point straight at your subject, which is an advantage.
Pretend You’re Shooting Something Behind Your Subject
Whether or not your subject takes notice of you, pretend that you’re taking a photo of something behind them. You could drop your camera, but stay fixated at anything behind the subject.
Let’s say you’re trying to photograph a billboard with a subject in front of it. Take a picture and then keep looking at the billboard.
Act Like You’re Recording a Video
Often on the street, we see tourists sticking out a camera and making a video of the place they’re visiting. Even if you happen to be in the line of fire, you don’t really mind. On the contrary, you actually try to avoid blocking something they might be trying to record and move on.
This video shooting technique can be used to make street photos as well. You could walk around with the LCD of your camera turned on in a motion that would suggest you are making video. The trick is to keep the camera up at eye level even after you’ve taken a photo.
Wear the Right Clothing
One strategy is to avoid wearing bright clothing. But, actually, wearing touristy clothing can help in keeping from being noticed.
Shoot in a Group
Shooting with friends is also recommended because that usually gives you confidence and makes you appear more touristy.
Not all of the above approaches are applicable in all situations. You as the photographer have to decide which techniques will work in which particular situation. What other tips do you have for street photography?
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