Street photography is all about documenting everyday life and society within public places. You can practice street photography pretty much everywhere (roads, public squares, beaches, parks and public libraries), you don’t have to travel to capture great shots. If you are new to street photography, we have compiled a list of 12 street photography tips that will help you identify those decisive moments and take better shots.
1. Take Your Camera Everywhere
Street photography is spontaneous, you never know when and where would be able to witness the perfect photo opportunity (decisive moment). Always have a street photography camera with you and you will never miss an opportunity to capture those “Kodak moments,” which, by the way, occur at the most unexpected times.
2. Choose a Good Lens
This is an important tip for those who want to perfect their street photography techniques. Those starting off street photography may be tempted to use long zoom lens since they can be far from the scene but still be able to capture the action. This will not do you any good; photography on the street is about getting up close and being part of the action.
Professional street photographers will use a compact camera rather than a DSLR which is large, heavy, and conspicuous.
3. Check Your Camera Settings
As mentioned above, you only have a short time to capture the action; therefore, having your camera ready is highly recommended. Switch your camera to aperture priority mode (many pro photographers and hobbyist photographers shoot in this mode). Also, set your aperture (f-stop) and ISO manually.
The approximate distance from where you will shoot your subject is 3 to 10 feet, therefore, remember to set the aperture to f/8. This way, anyone within the range will be in focus.
4. Get Closer to Your Subject
This is one of the important tips for street photography. Candid photography is thrilling if a photographer becomes part of the scene and gets close enough to capture his/her subject’s skin texture and emotions/facial expressions. A wide-angle lens (24, 28, or 35mm lens) gives you a perspective which makes your image viewer feel as though he/she was part of the moment. A wide-angle lens also allows the photographer to blend in with those in the environment and not as a person outside the crowd aiming a long lens at strangers.
5. Experiment with “Rat’s Eye View” Shots
People react differently when under observation, so the easiest way to take pictures of their interaction is unaware. Shooting at low angles is useful in situations where it is impossible to raise the camera to the eye; e.g. during street photography. It may be challenging at first, but as you become familiar with your camera and the focal length, you will be a pro at capturing candid moments from low angles.
6. Pick Your Subjects Wisely
This is probably the most important of all the street photography tips in this article. You must choose your subject wisely; some subjects may find the act of you photographing them creepy and may even call the police. Nevertheless, most people like having their pictures taken, so as long as you ask politely, they will allow you to photograph them.
7. Be Spontaneous and Shoot anything that Feels Important to You
As a photographer, you probably know that the essence of taking pictures of people, things or situations is because they are of some importance to us. When we transfer our feelings into photography and shoot passionately, it reflects through our work. So go ahead, be spontaneous and shoot anything or situation that you feel means something to you.
8. Exercise Whenever Possible
As with any other exercise, practice makes perfect. This is one of the important street photography tips that we can’t forget to mention. It doesn’t matter where you are, be it in a small town where there aren’t any decent public places or on a dimly lit street, just take as many pictures as you can. If you do this frequently, you will perfect your art and be prepared to capture those decisive moments.
9. Patience is Key
This is an important tip that we had to include in this list of street photography tips. There is this weird misconception surrounding street photography; street photographers need always be on the move hunting that elusive shot. Well, this is completely wrong, utterly wrong.
Most often the best street photographs come from photographers who understand the value of patience. Therefore, the next time you come across a dreamy background which is cluttered with a few distractions, hang out for some time and wait for the “perfect” subject to come into the scene.
10. Tell a Story
This is also one of the important street photography tips that photographers should have at the back of their minds. Any street photograph should tell a story; your images should clearly reflect the emotions of your subject while their environment should lay a foundation for your subject.
The best way to do this is by first imagining how you would like your photos to look like. What is your background going to be like? How are your subjects going to interact with one another in the scene? Finally, ask yourself the kind of emotion you would like to convey with your photo.
11. Above all, Have Fun!
The list will be incomplete without including having fun among the important street photography tips. Creativity and passion co-exist; where there is passion, creativity flows. So get out there, do what you love as you meet new people and see life from a fresh perspective each day.
Having read this article on “street photography tips” this far it is evident that you are interested in street photography and would like to explore it further. Do not be afraid to pursue your hobby or career, get a good camera with the best lens for street photography and hit the road. Before you go, do not forget to share with us any other street photography tips we might have missed. You can also check out our article on candid photography tips if you want to perfect your street photography techniques.