The art of street photography has produced some of the most moving pictures of all time. To capture forever the essence of a moment, or people's actions and reactions is what makes this type of photography such a difficult challenge. It is not just about the subject being photographed but also about the surroundings that add meaning to the scene. Street photography manages to move audiences, to revive the essence of that one very moment, timelessly.
To master the art of street photography there are a few things to take into account.
1. Know Your Camera
You should be very comfortable with your camera, the settings, the zoom, the use of exposure compensation. It is about capturing the moment. It is unlikely the scene will last for long enough to give you time to start fiddling with your camera to get all the settings right.
Carry your camera ready to shoot: switched on, with the right ISO setting and without the cap. You may even select a small f-stop as default, quantity of light allowing, and adjust only if time permits. You will be safer with a quick shutter speed, if you want to get moving subjects sharp. (If you're not sure where to start with camera settings, then read up on your exposure triangle.
3. Plan a Route and Pick Your Spot
To always carry your SLR with you is easier said than done. So to maximise your chances of getting great shots, think of places where there's always people going about their own business: squares, markets, museum entrances, etc… As well as walking around, pick a spot and watch the world go by through the viewer of your camera.
4. Choose the Lighting
Even if early morning and evening have better light qualities, bare in mind the amount of light you're going to need for settings to keep your shots sharp and focused and how your environment might affect that light. Late morning might be best if you are shooting in narrow streets with tall buildings. You might also want to wait for a heavily overcast or even rainy day, depending on your mood.
5. Choose Exactly When to Shoot
Time permitting, allow yourself to take multiple shots and improve the settings on the camera whenever possible. Watch behind the camera as the event unfolds and perhaps even try to anticipate what will happen next and the best way to capture it. Try different angles, open up the aperture, or get closer to the subject.
Durbar Square, Bhaktapur, Nepal by Ainhoa Barrio
6. Don't be Afraid
Try to be as natural as possible when you are taking pictures on the street. The calmer you are, the less intruding you will seem to others. If you see they get upset a smile or a low wave with your palm as an apology will solve most problems. To make it less obvious that you are taking a shot of a particular person, try to focus on another object that is at the same distance. Also keep your body angle at about 20º from the subject instead of facing them straight, so as to disguise the fact that you are shooting them.
7. Go Into Another Dimension
Switch your brain into thinking about composition and more. Think about what different elements framed together can convey. Sometimes it is just a matter of two conflicting elements put together to create a funny or controversial shot. Sometimes you need to combine more elements and its subtleties to bring meaning into the shot. Most importantly of all, is to have the senses ready to feel the emotion of a particular moment and have the camera ready to capture it.