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Tips and Techniques for Street Photography Beginners

Tips and Techniques for Street Photography Beginners

Street photography is an excellent genre of photography everyone should practice. Even a portrait or landscape photographer can find street photography beneficial to improve all the photography skills needed in portraiture and landscape photography.
Going out in the street, walking for a long time, and creating street photographs are part of a creative process that is fun to do.

As a street photographer, you will learn to shoot your images in various light conditions, which will help improve your photography skills consistently.
With street photography, you don’t need to wait or pay for a model or travel to a location (as you do to make a landscape image). Instead making street photography, you can just go outside and make it.

The impulse to visually document life and people moves the street photographer, which is why street photography aims to capture everyday life in public places. The street photographer is constantly trying to freeze in the photographs moments that otherwise can disappear unnoticed.

Street photography is capturing the beauty in the mundane, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and capturing the fleeting moments developing in front of you while people do everyday things in the street.

That is the reason why street photography also means confronting people who may ask you why you captured them in a photograph.

When you start practicing street photography, you can feel entirely out of your comfort zone, scared of what people may think of you. So you have to find a way to deal with that fear, anxiety, and lack of confidence. Here are some tips to help you begin your journey in street photography.

Be positive

Making street photography, you can’t become invisible, but you can try not to draw attention to yourself by having positive body language and a relaxed facial expression. Open body language will be beneficial, so you should avoid putting your free hand in your pocket, which may suggest nervousness about what you are doing. People in the street are really perceptive and pick up if you are nervous or scared.
Conversely, everything will flow better if you are in a relaxed and positive mindset.

Be gentle and respectful of others as you are not a threat, and you are not doing anything wrong as you are only interested in making good street photographs. A smile can prevent confrontation with the subject you just captured in your photograph.

In the same way, a positive mental attitude is essential to succeed in street photography. While capturing images in the street, you control nothing except your camera, and if you go outside thinking you will make good photographs, you will probably take compelling images. On the other side, if you start thinking you won’t find anything, you will likely not.

Get close

If you want to capture a compelling street photograph, getting close to your subject without being too shy is essential, or the image won’t be good. Most of the time, when the photographer keeps a distance and is scared to get closer to the subject, the photograph is just dull, with bad storytelling, because the viewer doesn’t feel to be in the scene.

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Robert Capa

When you get close to your subject, the photograph completely changes: the viewer will feel like he/she is in the scene, and the image will become alive, connecting you to the photograph’s subject.

Street photography is mainly about candid images, and the subject is often unaware of being photographed. Therefore, consider the possibility of asking permission whenever you feel you will capture a sensitive situation.

Less is more

Regarding street photography, it is better to go out with less gear than possible. The great thing about street photography is that you don’t need much camera gear. No expensive lenses are required, contrary to other genres like landscape photography or portraiture.
With a tiny camera, you will be less intimidating to other people while you are outside taking photographs. At the same time, you will be able to walk more without getting too tired from bringing a lot of gear into your camera bag. Therefore, one camera and one lens is usually the best option to make street photography. This way, you can be entirely focused on the creative process of capturing street photographs without the distraction of thinking about which lens you should be using.
What really matters about your camera is that you know it very well, so you can rapidly set the correct exposure to capture a fleeting moment. Street photographers only care a little about buying the newest camera on the market. The important is to go out and shoot.

My favorite camera to make street photography is the Fujifilm X100V. I love this camera because it is compact but gives you all the creative controls you need to adjust the exposure quickly through its dials. These dials also give the Fujifilm x100V the look of a fantastic vintage film camera.

Always be ready and keep your camera ready as well

You should always be ready to catch the fleeting moment in front of your lens: this is a lesson every street photographer learns very soon. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of what is happening in the street around you. No distractions allowed: for example, you shouldn’t listen to music because most of the time, the sound of the street catches your attention and reveals something interesting happening close to you. For this reason, not only watch but also listen to the street.

For the same reason, you should always keep your camera ready to shoot because you never know when something compelling can develop just in front of your lens. So keep yourself in the readiest position to capture a street photo. This way, you will be prepared to capture the moment if something unexpected happens. It is also essential that you know your camera well.

Light as your main subject

Whenever you are not inspired, don’t know where to begin, or feel overwhelmed by street photography, try to make light your main subject of street photography.
Search for a place where harsh light and deep shadows meet, and you will find a lot of negative space to work with to create compelling street photographs.

Don’t be shy

Being shy and possibly scared of taking pictures of strangers can be completely normal at the beginning. However, you may feel intimidated by what people think of you while taking images in the street. Or you can even be scared by the possibility they ask you to delete the image you just captured of them, or they may even get angry with you.
For this reason, you must try to feel positive. Body language and communication are essential while doing street photography. Try to be gentle and respectful of others. You are not doing anything wrong as you are only interested in making good street photographs, so there is no reason to be shy or to feel scared. You can find more information on How to do street photography for shy photographers here.

To be less intimidating to people, you can use the screen instead of the viewfinder. People will notice it less and find it less confronting than taking a photograph raising the camera to your eye. This way, you can avoid eye contact with your subject and feel more relaxed while doing street photography.

Use the fishing technique

This technique is fundamental in street photography. For example, with the fishing technique, when the photographer finds a compelling background with good light decides to stay put and wait for an exciting subject to enter the scene. This technique can be advantageous but requires time, dedication, and patience. The fishing technique is a great way to frame and compose your street photograph, and it is fantastic if you are a little bit shy and don’t want to shoot at the face of the people.

In fact, the fishing technique can be beneficial, especially if you are not a confrontational person. Through the fishing technique, you can avoid the confrontation as much as possible and start your journey in street photography, finding it less intimidating than you initially thought. You can read more about the fishing technique here.

Take a visual note

As you get more experienced in street photography, try to plan your street sessions through visual notes. When you see something interesting that you can capture in a photograph, but for some reason, at the moment, it isn’t perfect to take that photograph that you wanted, take a visual note to remember the place and the image you wanted to capture.

For example, the light could be better on another day, or you need someone passing by the background, but no one is around at that moment. Taking a visual note, you are giving yourself another opportunity to capture that image that was impossible to shoot.

Sometimes it is also necessary to keep coming to the place more than once to capture the image you were expecting.

Don’t hide you are doing street photography

There is nothing wrong with doing street photography, so why should you hide you are taking photographs?
While doing street photographs, you are trying to capture the beauty in the mundane, taking candid images of strangers. For this reason, you don’t want to become the center of attention, but you don’t even want the exact opposite of it. If you try to hide that you are taking street photographs, you will look weird to other people, and it may seem you are doing something wrong.

Anyway street photography is often misunderstood, many people think that street photographers invade the privacy of others, rather than document everyday life. For this reason you should be prepared to disregard what others think.

Find a story to tell

With practice, once you progress as a street photographer, you will see stories developing in front of your eyes and begin to predict how these stories will evolve. Then, as you are aware and ready to connect with the world, you can anticipate the events before they happen.

A good photographer has his own voice and should have something to say. The way you tell your story through your image is what makes your voice as an artist.
Visual storytelling allows you to show how you perceive the world and tell your story, expressing your feelings and emotions about the photograph’s subject.