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Street Photography: common mistakes to avoid

Shooting mainly manual mode

One common misconception among beginner street photographers is that you should always use manual mode. They think that professional photographers always shoot in manual mode. And this is false.
Every time the light conditions change rapidly, professional photographers also use automatic modes such as aperture priority. However, it would mean adjusting the camera settings too often whenever light conditions change quickly, and you rely on manual mode.
Doing street photography, you can’t set the exposure manually and don’t change it all day long. By choosing an automatic mode, for example, aperture priority, you can concentrate on the creative process of taking the picture instead of playing with your camera’s settings all the time.

Don’t take with you a lot of gear

I believe the best way to improve photography is to take pictures with the same lens. In this way, you will learn how to use your camera faster and understand better how your camera sees the scene in front of you. Every focal length sees the world differently, and the image taken with a 50mm focal length will be different from the scene captured with a 24mm focal length.
It is better to take a small camera with a fixed lens and easily capture street photographs all day instead of carrying all your equipment and being exhausted after 45 minutes.

Shooting using only jpg files

Nowadays, cameras have a lot of incredible film simulations but not shooting in raw is the wrong idea. Using raw files, you will have more freedom in your editing process, and you can also set up a general profile to edit all your images in the same way.

Not to study the literature of street photography

My advice is to study the great photographers from the past to take inspiration, which is more important than looking on Instagram or other social media at photographers with a lot of followers. You can buy books or research online to find inspiring images of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winograd, Bruce Gilden, Saul Leiter, Robert Frank, and many others.

Not being close enough

Initially, you may be afraid to get too close to people and receive adverse reactions from them. But you are friendly, smiling, and positive doing street photography. As a result, they won’t perceive you as a threat and will react positively. Try to be closer to your subject because it has many advantages, and the images will be more compelling than staying far away.

Shooting with a telephoto lens

In the beginning, street photography can be challenging, and you may consider using a telephoto lens trying to stay far away from people. But you should work on yourself, your skill as a photographer, and not on the gear you use. So try to use a 35mm focal length and get closer to the people while doing street photography.

Capture images with a wide aperture and a shallow depth of field

Are you the happy owner of an excellent prime lens that can capture images at f1.2? It doesn’t mean you should always use this aperture, especially doing street photography. Making street photography, you are trying to document everyday life and the mundane, so don’t get lost with a shallow depth of field that hides the details of the street photographs.

Over-editing your street photographs

As I wrote above, shooting raw allows you to edit your images. You should avoid the mistake of over-editing your pictures, especially trying to make a dull photo look more exciting through editing. It would help if you didn’t overdo the post-processing.

Not practice enough street photography

There is a lot to study about street photography. But looking too much at the great street photographers of the past or other street photographers on Youtube more than actually doing street photography is the wrong approach to improve your skills. Instead, you should go out on the street and shoot as much as possible. So you should study the great street photographers from the past without stopping from actually practicing street photography as much as possible.

Not taking street photos near your home

This is another mistake. By making street photography close to where you live, you can practice street photography the more time possible from the very instant you leave your home. But, in this way, you are also taking pictures in a place you know very well, and the idea that you need a new location to take exciting street photographs is the wrong mindset.