a day of street photography

What I Pack for a Day of Street Photography – Urban Gear

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So How Do You Pack for a Day of Street Photography?

Planning is key in photography. It’s the essence of any efficient workflow.

It is also one of the most valuables assets of a professional photographer. But what if someone in the niche goes all rascal and rogue?

a day of street photography

Image by Josh Marshall

When planning a day of street photography, there goes a different approach when it comes to planning, because you need to be ready to take a picture at any moment.

Talking about “what to pack for X type of photography” is an obvious way to plan “expected results” when making studio-type photographs. Which is why exploring this particular topic in the context of street photography is so curious.

Since I have a trusty camera with me at all times (like my phone at a minimum), I stopped “planning” – and everything went nuts. How come? Because I'm always seeking out that special candid picture.

This practice always leads me to the next great shot and the next. The pursuit never ends, and hopefully, it never will.

My Trusty Fuji ready for a Photowalk

My Trusty Fuji ready for a Photowalk

A Day of Street Photography, With Me

There are two scenarios for my street photography,

  1. The first one occurs daily and mingles perfectly with my personal, professional and academic life.
  2. And then there’s the one that happens when I’m traveling or when I go on photo walks with fellow photographers. The latter requires a bit of packing and some useful apparel.

In this piece, I’ll talk about some of the things I carry when I’m doing street photography of any kind – from a regular walk or drive in the middle of my regular work day, to the things I take with me when I’m traveling abroad.

Perhaps the only difference between the regular daily companion of my camera and the packing I do for traveling is the inclusion of elements that enable me to shoot all day without failing in terms of photographic tools (and physically as well).

a day of street photography

My “Magical Box”

a day of street photography

My everyday set-up

a day of street photography

My everyday set-up

So let´s break it down into some key points.

Something to Capture Photographs, of Course

Currently, I use my trusty Fuji X100T, but my daily companion used to be the Canon G1X. Both are great street photography cameras due to their portability and inconspicuous nature.

After realizing the benefits of always carrying a camera, I started dedicating myself almost exclusively to social photography. Back then, I used a DSLR in those days of heavy gear, my DSLR always wore small prime lenses like the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM and the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM.

From time to time I enjoy shooting film too, and my gear consists of the now sadly forgotten Pentax K1000 and Yashica Mat-124 G. Even my phone has given me the great joy when making some nice photos, even though it’s not the most powerful thing on earth.

a day of street photography

My X100T with TCL-X100 attached, courtesy of a friend testing a new lens

a day of street photography

My self-made birthday gift, the Yashica Mat-124 G

Get Dressed for the Occasion 

Don’t take clothes for granted when doing street photography, especially if you’re going for a full day of shooting. For me, useful cargo pants, a cap, and comfortable shoes are the way to go for long photo walks or traveling. Clothing is the only thing I really think hard about and even plan for long walks. I say “useful”

Clothing is the only thing I really think hard about and even plan for long walks. I say to myself I need “useful” pants because they will facilitate your movement.

Try to wear neutral colored clothes too, so you can blend into the crowd when visiting foreign cultures and avoid the “tourist” look.

a day of street photography

My everyday shoes and my long distance walking shoes

a day of street photography

My comfy cargo pants for walking all day on the streets

Even when I carry a proper camera bag with my Yashica, some film and the X100T with the TCL-100 attached to its lens, my most valuable asset will still be useful clothes. They’re the only thing that allow me to work swiftly and comfortably in the streets.

Getting Around – Public Transportation Maps

Public transportation is a great way to move from place to place when planning a day of street photography. The urban experience of moving around like this is vast and rich, but it can be confusing. Having a metro system map on my phone has saved me several times, especially when I’ve been in countries where people speak a language different than my own.

Have a PDF Portfolio on Your Phone

Street photography is best when it’s candid, but sometimes you'll have the good fortune of meeting magnificent strangers in the street. A conversation can be valuable to both parties. Also, it's very likely you'll want to make a portrait of these characters.

Not all people will be open and trusting, so explaining and describing your work using a portable version of your portfolio is a great idea. It's something to immediately back up what you're saying about building your street portfolio. Okay, I appreciate it'd be easier to just have a simple “yes, sure, why not?” with no “explaining” and for your subject(s) to feel flattered, but not everyone is like this.

Some photographers use amazing looking postcard prints, but I stick to an easy-to-access PDF version of my portfolio on my phone. I use PDF because browsing on the web is not so cool – and as I said before, my phone isn’t very powerful.

Even though this PDF tool has been handy for short-notice situations, I'm considering making a pocket-sized booklet of my portfolio.

Batteries

My trusty Fuji has a huge problem, and I hope they have corrected it with the recent release of the X100F. The specific problem is that the batteries on this amazing camera run out pretty quickly. My solution is simple: I carry extra batteries (and, just in case, an extra SD card – REALLY IMPORTANT).

The good thing about these batteries is that they’re fairly small, so I don't mind having them in my pocket all day. I also don't shoot a lot of pictures, so I carry the extra battery as a contingency.

I have little much else to say about my packing methods, but I’d love to hear about how you do it when you’re preparing for a day of street photography. Please share your ideas with us!

PS: I really apologize with you guys if the pictures are boring, I'm not so hot with product photography.




Further Resources

Further Learning

To really ramp up your Lightroom knowledge and skills beyond these few tips, be sure to check out Lightroom Power User by Shotkit which will put you among the more advanced users of the program very quickly.

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Frederico is a professional photographer from El Salvador. Check out his photography portfolio.

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