Are you new to street photography? Maybe you are just wondering how you can improve your street photography skills. Ideally, street photography is all about capturing the reality of life on the streets.
There is no “Special place” for taking candid street photographs, and even an area closest to your home can give you the most breathtaking ones. You can take candid photos of your targeted pictures without the subject, even noticing your presence and even asking permission.
Here are incredible tips that will undeniably help you to bring out emotion, humanity, and real character when shooting street photography.
1 Use wide-angle lenses
One of the essential aspects of street photography is selecting the appropriate lenses to use. Although it is quite possible to shoot fantastic street photos using telephoto lenses, it may not be such a great idea when your subject spots you.
Most people tend to feel uncomfortable when they all of a sudden spot, a stranger with huge lenses in the street trying to take his or her photo. Instead, get wide-angle lenses ideally 20-55 mm that enable you to acquire clear shots of your subjects at a closer angle. You will be hardly noticeable in the crowd.
2 Get your camera settings right
Before starting your street photography, it is a great idea to get all the camera settings right to capture the most stunning photos effortlessly. You may begin by setting it ideally to aperture priority mode and setting the iso as well as the aperture manually. Preferably, when the sun is bright, a good starting point would be choosing f/16 and setting an iso range that falls within 200 and 400.
When you achieve a shutter speed of more than 1/200th of a second and you are all set for a perfect street photography shoot. It is good to note that shutter speed less than 1/80th of a second tends to create blurred photos.
3 Shoot right from the hip
A great way of capturing the natural candidness of street photos and be discreet at the same time is by shooting at the hip level. This is because most photographers find it quite challenging to shoot from the eye, pointing at strangers in the middle of the street.
When shooting from the hip, try choosing a smaller aperture ideally f/11 get the best focus when you are at about five meters.
This makes the subjects that are within a range of 3 and 15 meters in the great focus for you to shoot using your prime lenses. To ensure the shutter speed is fast enough, consider increasing your ISO. You will need to keep practicing just how far you need to position yourself away from your subjects to get them within the frame effectively.
4 Location planning
Another crucial aspect when it comes to street photography is location planning. Before heading out to your target location, it is essential to research whether shooting there is safe or if there are any legal restrictions as regards shooting.
For instance, in most public streets, you are free to take shots using your camera but may be limited when using a tripod stand. On the other hand, if you plan to shoot on privately owned streets, it is essential to request permission first before starting the shooting. You do not want to start facing lawsuits due to invasion of privacy.
Once you have confirmed the location rules, the next thing is to identify what inspires you in the location when taking your street photographs. Some of the best places to shoot your street photographs include busy outdoor markets as well as downtown districts. Consider using public transport when scouting for a shoot location to find compelling stories to capture.
5 Shoot street performers
Most photographers do not realize that they can take the most stunning photos by capturing street performers. Street performers, together with buskers, enjoy lots of attention, and they certainly will not mind if you take their pictures.
Also, consider shooting dog walkers. Dog walkers love it when someone admires their dog and will surely be more than delighted to have someone shoot them.
6 Always have your camera on you
One of the keys to fruitful street photography is always carrying your camera. Having your camera at all times when in the street will enable you to make the most out of decisive moments.
A “decisive moment” is a situation where you can take a photo of your subject in a split second when in the perfect position and scenery. These moments are usually sporadic, and once you miss them, they are gone forever.
The best street cameras are generally the smaller ones that you can easily carry around comfortably.
A small compact camera saves you the hassle of carrying around heavy photography gear such as tripod stands, flashes, laptops, and numerous backup lenses.
An ideal camera would be anything that falls within the range of 28mm and 50mm for using efficiently on the streets. Compact cameras significantly reduce the chances of people noticing you when taking the street photos.
DSLRs, on the other hand, tend to bring lots of attention towards you, and your subjects may find them quite intimidating. They are also very bulky to carry around the streets and heavy when shooting at eye level.
7 Change your route
Most photographers already have their ideal locations where they love shooting. Maybe changing your route could work wonders for you and help you get the most inspiring street shots. An excellent place to start is by exploring different spots within your town.
You can even head out to another city or also go to a different country altogether. You have the freedom to head out to any place that much fuels your creative juices.
8 Capture the story
An excellent street photo will always tell a story by itself without the need for a supplementary explanation text. To bring out the story behind every street photo, try capturing people interacting, their body movements, gestures as well as eye contact.
This way, you can shoot strong emotions within your photo that viewers will find highly inspirational. Why not try framing your subjects with lead spaces incorporated into the portrait. For example, if your subject is facing one side, include more space towards that particular side of the frame.
Do not feel embarrassed to approach and talk to your subjects to find out more about their life story and path. This not only allows you to boost your creativity, capture them correctly, and form a unique both with them for more striking photos.
As you capture the emotion of your subjects, try including more set into the photos. For instance, you could incorporate an iconic building, a beautiful fountain, or even public transportation means such a train. Also, remember to look out for street celebrations where people are usually express lots of emotions to bring life to your photos.
9 Shoot at night
You will undoubtedly capture the most stunning photos when you shoot at night. However, you will find this more challenging compared to when you shoot during the day. When shooting at night, you will have to be extremely careful when it comes to low shutter speeds to avoid taking blurry images.
Learn how to use your ISO, aperture as a compensation creatively for the extremely low light.
If you want to achieve long exposures effectively, you may want to use a tripod. If you prefer, you may also apply fast aperture lenses that enable you to shoot appropriately using low light and, at the same time, freeze the action. As you shoot during the night, try finding exciting features to captivate your viewers, including shadows, compositions as well as fascinating lines.
10 Avoid chimping
This is a common mistake that most photographers make when taking street photos. Chimping is simply the act of always reviewing a picture each time you take it using your LED screen. This is not recommended since you may miss an opportunity of taking a breathtaking street photo when you are busy reviewing the ones you have already captured.
As mentioned earlier in this article, street photography usually does not have second chances when you miss a perfect photo moment. Always keep your eyes up, so you never miss these moments.
11 Plan to shoot using the best light and shadows
When shooting streets, it is also vital that you locate the best light where shadows land for the most stunning street photos. Just like in landscape photography, you will find the best lighting and shadows early in the morning as well as late in the evening during the golden hours.
This, however, does not mean that you can never get any captivating photos during other times of the day.
For instance, when the sun is too bright, try to locate various spots where the light blends in well with a shadow to add a dramatic effect to your photo, mainly when you are shooting in big cities.
Be on the look for people’s shadows that are landing on the ground as well as those of the nearby buildings. You can also make your street photography portfolio more interesting by concentrating on shadows only and not including the people who made them entirely. To create amazing silhouettes when capturing your subjects, try shooting towards the light.
12 Black white or color
Usually, most photographers prefer to take street photos in black and white. The reason for this is because viewers find monochrome photos highly emotional, and they can easily artistically interpret them. For instance, when taking a shot during a fast, “decisive moment,” and a person walks by wearing a rather bright yellow dress, it may cause a huge distraction.
Converting the photo to black and white makes the screaming color to blend in perfectly with the rest of your scene.
However, this does not mean that you eliminate color from your street shots. You can still capture amazing shots in color. You convert to monochrome only when the color brings too many distractions making the photo not to have a lasting impression for viewers.
13 Get the perfect background and foreground
Similar to landscape photography, you have to get just the ideal background and foreground to achieve the most remarkable street photograph. The right fronts, as well as background, lead the viewer’s eyes to the main subject, overall adding a dramatic effect.
Nevertheless, you must stay away from wired overlaps along with friction between various elements.
An interesting foreground can be a beautiful pot of flowers in the street, a statue, a car, or even a person. You can choose any kind of striking background from a public means of transport, a graffiti wall, and a group of people interacting or an iconic building.
14 Be still and let the action come your way
It is common to see most street photographers running around from one place to another, looking for the ideal decisive moment. Well, it is good to realize that most of the time, you stand a better chance to identify a decisive moment for snapping a striking photo just by standing or sitting still.
This allows you to be more observant and keen to details, and you can take the decisive moments much quickly and easily. Just stand still and wait for the action to come to you than rushing after the subject.
15 Get a camera remote for shooting new angles
Lastly, a camera remote would be a fantastic addition to your street photography expeditions. It allows you to play around with your creativity.
For instance, it would be somewhat awkward to lie down on the street when taking a shot. Instead, you could set the camera on the ground and capture your subjects when you connect it to a wireless remote from a distance. You will also enjoy slower shutter speeds compared to when holding the camera at eye level.
The slow shutter speeds help you to obtain clear pictures of photos of buildings and, at the same time, add a little extra blur of the people included in the frame. Consider a camera that features inbuilt WIFI as well as Bluetooth integration.
Such a camera enables you to preview settings along with the image through a mobile app on your Smartphone. This makes you incognito, and passersby will only see you as an ordinary person simply using their phone.
Street photography depicts the reality of life, and you should always have fun when shooting. Although you may feel a bit anxious at the beginning, the stunning shots you achieve at the end of a busy day are indeed satisfying.
You have to practice a lot to boost your creativity and confidence levels. Always remember to keep post-processing on the minimum to save the photos as a real approximation of reality as possible. These tips will surely help you identify the kind of street photos you love shooting and overall improve your skills. Happy Street shooting