Street Photography Tips and Techniques : Getting Started
One area of photography that has intrigued my interest since I started has been street photography. I say this because when I take a look at some images, it seems to have an abstract feel – it’s not necessarily a portraiture, or landscape shot, or action shot in any way. At times, it even appears that there aren’t any clear rules in street photography, as I’ve seen individuals photographs in different lighting, poses, gestures, angles and in different settings and environments – like it’s spontaneous.
For me, this is what has attracted me to street photography. At the same time, this makes is hard for me, because it seems a bit daunting when you’re first starting off.
I mean – how do I start?
How do I develop my skills when first starting off with Street Photography? Especially when it involves getting outside of
my comfort zone and taking photos of complete strangers in public?
Getting off my sofa
Well – it goes without saying. This is obviously the FIRST step in the process. I’m not going to get better at street photography until I actually get out there and try. And I’m never going to try until I actually grab my camera and head out the door.
So as daunting as this seems – I’ll take this as a first positive step. Sure I can google “Street Photography”, read books and watch YouTube videos all day long. But the true learning won’t start until I get out and actually start practicing.
Where do I begin?
Does street photography necessarily mean that I need to actually shoot alongside a busy street – out in the opening? Well personally, I don’t think so, because I’ve seen samples of street photography in all types of settings:
- Public Parks
- Cafes/Coffee houses
- Ball games
Sure – I’ve taken shots in public before, but all this time it’s been landscapes or landmarks or crowds from a safe distance. I’ve never come close to invading someone’s privacy or personal space.
So I don’t necessarily have to limit myself to a busy downtown, city street. In fact – knowing my and the type of introverted nature inside of my – I would start small icebreaker – like a setting that’s more comfortable for me, like the local Starbucks, or my neighborhood. Maybe even the park next door where I go to take a morning jog now and then.
This is how I started getting comfortable taking pictures of individuals in public. Not only did this put me at ease with having a camera around and photographing individuals, but it also helped me to take in the world around me and find ideas. In fact, the more I walked around, observing people watching, the more ideas that came to me. And they only came to me once I got out there with my camera rather than sitting at home, doing nothing about it.
As the Nike slogan stats – Just do it!
Always have your camera ready
In the beginning, I’ve always kept my camera ready and handy – even on days when I wasn’t planning on shooting anything at all, because I never knew when that perfect shot would show up for me ( if there is such a thing as a perfect shot). I even packed my camera with me when going to work daily, keeping it in my trunk in the carrying case.
The trouble is, that I rarely took it out, either at work (perhaps because I’m seeing the same, uninspiring environment every day) or because it would have been too much trouble for me to pull over during my daily commute, park, take out the camera, and take a shot.
But instead – in times like these, I keep my smartphone ready. Sure, it’s not a dslr camera, but the closes and quickest device to pull out for a quick snap and shoot to capture any shot at any time.
What do I shoot?
For me – these are baby steps. I feel like I need to walk before I can run. I may even need to crawl at times to. What really put me at ease in the early stages of street photography was relaxing and enjoying the experience. I didn’t want to go out with any preconceived notions that I had to capture the perfect shot – though that would be nice:
Instead, I just started shooting, to put myself at ease in my environment. At the same time, while I was shooting, I kept observing everything around me, the people, the individuals, animals, and looking for a particular story to tell, whether it would take a single shot, or a series of shots in succession.
I think that this is a vital step when getting started in street photography – getting feedback. I’m going to take many shots in the beginning, and many of these shots may come out awful, with only a few worth salvaging. But thanks to Adobe Photoshop, there are some advance editing techniques that can at least help me to make something out of nothing from a bad photograph.
Also, – as I’ve observed in the beginning, I feel that Street Photography can bend the rules a little. Sure, it’s easy to spot a bad image that’s obviously overexposed. But I’m referring to self-expression and the using such factors as shadows, silhouettes, lighting, angles, and others to capture a particular mood or story in an image. That’s primarily what I’m looking for, and if I have to take a thousand bad images to find my footing, then that’s what I’ll have to do.
And in the process, I believe this will help me to develop my style and get more comfortable with street photography.
I’m interested in hearing your feedback and approach to this subject.