The Street Photographer as a Bystander
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the bystander is “a person who is standing near and watching something that is happening but is not taking part in it.” So the street photographer is a discrete witness of a scene, of something developing in front of the camera.
In others words, a bystander is a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part. They are usually considered to be uninvolved observers.
Street photography tries to tell the story of how it feels to be human and tries to capture in images the story of our lives as it unfolds in front of the street photographer’s lens.
Street photography is about documenting everyday life.
A street photographer, to make good street photographs need patience, something to say, observation skills, the ability to move unnoticed in the street, and to know how the camera works to capture fleeting moments efficiently.
Learning how to move unnoticed in the street is an essential skill for any street photographer; it is necessary to be the discreet street photographer if you want to succeed in street photography.
Of course, for a street photographer, it is essential to be inspired by the literature of photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Saul Leiter, Garry Winograd, Joel Meyerowitz, and Robert Frank. For sure, it is crucial, but more is needed.
The essential thing is that, to be a good street photographer, you need to let the street challenge you. And the only way to get better at street photography is to go out and practice street photography.
I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, determined to “trap” life — to preserve life in the act of living. Above all, I craved to seize, in the confines of one single photograph, the whole essence of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.Henry Cartier Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson was a renowned photographer and one of the founders of modern photojournalism. He believed photography was an art form that could capture a moment in time and preserve it forever. This quote perfectly encapsulates his philosophy. He was determined to capture life at the moment, to “trap” it in a single photograph, and to capture the essence of a given situation. He prowled the streets all day, ready to pounce at any given moment, and dedicated himself to capturing and preserving life in the act of living. This quote speaks to the power of photography and Cartier-Bresson’s commitment to the art form. He believed that capturing life in a photograph was an act of preservation, and his dedication to his craft is an inspiration to all photographers.
Try to take street photographs whenever you can, and you will improve your skills quickly. The great thing about street photography is that you can practice it anywhere and whenever you want. You can do it while going to work, on vacation, while walking the street to go to some places, or in a planned street photography session.
You can take street photographs anywhere at any time
Unlike landscape photography or other photographic genres, street photography doesn’t require expensive gear, travel to stunning locations, or shooting exclusively with any particular light condition, such as sunrise and sunset. Instead, you can practice street photography with your mobile phone or just one camera and one lens and shoot in any light condition. Moreover, as I wrote above, you can take street photographs anywhere at any time.
Street photography is a fun and creative way to capture the beauty of everyday life. It involves taking candid shots of people in everyday settings, such as on the street, at the beach, or in a park. The beauty of street photography is that it can be done anywhere and at any time. Whether in a bustling city or a small town, you can take fantastic street photos.
Street photography is becoming increasingly popular, as people are becoming more aware of the power of capturing moments on camera. It’s also a great way to practice your composition and photography skills, as you must be creative and quick to take the best shots.
Street photography is accessible to everyone, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. All you need is a camera, some creativity, and the willingness to take risks. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to capture beautiful shots no matter where you are.
The discrete street photographer and the gear
As street photography is about documenting everyday life, capturing real life without interfering as much as possible with others, the street photographer should try to be the less intrusive he/she can.
The gear can be essential to be more inconspicuous while taking street photographs of people. In fact, using a small compact camera, the photographer will probably take the images unnoticed, capturing life and the street as it develops spontaneously in front of the camera. But conversely, with reflex and a zoom lens, the photographer can look very intrusive to the people in the street.
The discrete street photographer is one who takes street photos of people without them knowing. The idea is to capture life as it is, without the distraction of the photographer. This means that the photographer must be able to remain inconspicuous while taking photographs.
The gear used by discrete street photographers is essential to their success. Small, compact cameras are ideal for this type of photography. They are easy to carry, and their small size makes them much less noticeable than larger cameras. Additionally, these cameras are often equipped with silent shutter options, allowing even more inconspicuous shooting.
Using a small compact camera, the discrete street photographer can easily take photos without drawing attention to themselves. The weight and size of the camera make it easy to hide, while the silent shutter eliminates the sound that often accompanies the taking of a photo. This makes it much easier for the photographer to take photos without being noticed.
The discrete street photographer is one who is able to capture life without interrupting it. The use of the right gear is essential for success. Small, compact cameras, with silent shutter options, make it possible for the photographer to take photographs without drawing attention to themselves. This allows for the capture of life in its natural state, without interruption.
A great thing about street photography is its accessibility and low-cost needed to start practicing it. You can even start using your mobile phone or a cheap compact camera.
A good street photographer wants to document the street without interfering or interfering the less possible. This way his/her work will be more “genuine,” recording through images the raw of life, how it feels to be human at that moment.
Every street photographer develops techniques to remain unobserved while capturing images in the street. It is essential to preserve the integrity of the scene you want to capture.
How to act in the street
As I wrote before, capturing street photographs, you should try to be as inconspicuous as you can because once people see you, something in your subject’s behavior will change: and the integrity of the scene is gone. What caught your attention, what you saw initially through your observational skills, won’t come back again.
This is why it is crucial how you act in the street. Another important reason is that if you can capture images unseen, you can avoid confrontation with people, so you won’t lose time explaining that you are doing street photography and that there is nothing wrong with it.
Here are some tips that can help you to be more unnoticeable in the street:
- Try to avoid eye contact with your subject. Consider also the option to wear sunglasses which will make eye contact impossible.
- You can wear earphones as people will difficulty stop you if you seem list to music.
- Don’t dress in bright colors (for example, orange); I usually wear jeans and dark colors to be less noticeable. It is a great way to blend with other people in the street.
- Wear a hat with a peak; it can be helpful to avoid eye contact.
- Don’t look too happy if you want to avoid confrontation. Smiley people draw attention to themselves.
- Try to move quietly and slowly, or fast movements will draw attention to yourself.
- Avoid looking like a photographer; don’t wear clothes, hats, or bags with photography brands.
- Every time it is possible, try to shoot at the hip. Bringing your camera up to eye level will draw much attention to you. A camera with a tilt screen (like the Fujifilm X100V I use) will be fantastic.
- Stay put. Find a good shooting position and something to lean against or sit on. Bring the camera to eye level and capture images of the people entering the frame. Most people will think you were taking photographs of something behind them. This is called the fishing technique.
- Shoot at people passing by pretending to be shooting something in the distance. Don’t look at the people; focus on the space behind them. Keep the camera up to eye level until your subject has passed.
- Avoid eye contact before, during, and after taking a photograph. If you make eye contact with someone you are going to photograph, your intention will be obvious. It will also lead to a change of behavior in your subject. And if you make eye contact once you have captured the photograph, it may lead to a confrontation.