Top Techniques Guaranteed To Get Inside The Street Photographer’s Mindset

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We've Got Some Killer Street Photography Tips If You're Interested?

Ending up as a Street Photographer for me happened in the most sincere form I could imagine, honestly.
In the beginning of my journey through the art of photography I hadn't even heard of street photography let alone what it was about (though the clue's in the name). Pretty much all I'd known about disciplined photography could be summarized as still lifes, landscape, and fashion.
It began when I had a particularly uplifting social experience, and something inside of me was triggered and I started taking pictures of that person that was in front of me. That's it. My story evolves from that day….

street photography tips
Image by Qusai Akoud
Federico Alegría Federico Alegría

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Street Photography – A Personal Story

Above is the image I took of that day, and I'm aware it has tremendous downfalls technically speaking, but it doesn't matter to me.
This is the context of the image – this man, (he's name is or was Salvador) had no legs, and was laying on the ground, alone, almost forgotten, in a blood pond of fish guts and stuff over a pier.
He grabbed my hand, and I sat with him. He told about how he lost his legs in a bus wreck, and still, he had that lovely smile on his face while telling me about how grateful he was with life.
This is the one image I treasure most, because it taught me about the importance of caring about people. My camera is just my way of sharing what I think about things that matter in life. Sometimes I'm gloomy, sometimes I'm cheerful, that's life and we're all led by our emotions.
This man was the best photography teacher I ever had, and he knew nothing about Photography.

Federico Alegría Federico Alegría

Onto Some Of Those Promised Tips You'll Be Needing For The Streets

Always Carry A Camera With You

If there could be just one ultimate tip for photography (and especially for Street Photography) always carrying a camera with you would be it. Consider it rule #1.
In order to develop the Street Photographer mindset, you should not just rely on your smartphone. Why? Because we are so used to having it around, that our minds will not have that special pinch that having a camera with you produces.
It almost makes you feel guilty for having a camera with you and not be taking images. This is not a bad thing of course, I’m not saying to shoot like crazy, since we are seeking meaningful stories – as long as your keeper ratio grows, that's what matters here.

Want a free cheat sheet for landscape photography? Click Here to Download.

Further Learning

Arguably, there are areas of street photography just look better in Black and White. Check out this article when you're done here!
However, learning to create those Black and White images in post production takes some patience and practice – here’s a guide by Kent DuFault on Better Black and White, without having to spend money on presets and plugins!

Allow Yourself To Be Inspired

What do I mean?
Well, in the photographer’s life, it is important to have curated quality sources for seeking inspiration.
These inspirations can come from books, movies, stories, paintings, podcasts, blogs etc. Allow yourself to be inspired by the works of others – it will rub off on your creativity, style and workflow.
Your own voice will eventually mature and the cumulus of all your cultural background stories will help shape and define that voice. The work of the masters will be the best school for shaping that style that will define your photography.

Federico Alegría Federico Alegría

Get Yourself Known, Socially

It is important for all Street Photographers to be known around all the social events that are happening locally. We are documenting society in an aesthetic way, and alienating yourselves from the current events is not a wise thing to do.
Many people tend to take a neutral position on things like religion and politics, but these very things represent society's heartbeat. You'll need a good and reliable source for news and valuable live information about the things happening near you or within cultures you get close to while traveling.
Do some research and be ready for any events or festivals coming up so that you're prepared and standing by to shoot those awesome street photos!

Use Your Spare Time Wisely

Street Photography could be a profession, but many of us find Street Photography as a creative outlet, and even with this approach to photography, images can still achieve impressive levels of quality.
Personally speaking, I can give you the following example.
I have a day job that has little to do with photography, but I have the fortune to move a lot on the streets, and I use those moments to create some of the images I love the most doing.
Use your spare time for capturing images that will eventually tell meaningful stories. By having a camera with you as I suggested earlier, is the best way of using your spare time in a very productive way.
It will then feel like no effort whatsoever…all the while building up some great images!

Federico Alegría Federico Alegría

Use Public Transportation – Buses And Trains Are Fertile Ground For The Street Photographer!

Many stories could unveil in front of your eyes when getting close to the benefits of public transportation. Some cities around the world have the enormous facility of having solid public transportation systems (makes things easier for you).
However, there are other countries where the culture pushes people to become independently mobile (therefore the public transport isn't so good). If you live in a city like this, use the public transportation from time to time anyway – there's a heap of opportunities waiting around every corner!

Walk – Sounds So Simple, Right?

Walk more often, and always carry a camera with you. These two pieces of advice I cannot stress enough and yet they are so basic.

Become Aware Of Urban Life

Walking has the fortune of allowing people to become more aware about the things that happen on the streets in a closer form. Instead of calling for lunch to be delivered at your place, try venturing outside – you just never know what you might come across!?
I’ll give a weird example now to explain myself further on this point.
Do you know what the true success behind Pokémon Go is? It wasn’t the fun and the addictiveness behind the Nintendo motto of “Gotta Catch’em All”, it was the fact that people started getting outside their homes and offices to gather Pokémon on the streets.

Federico Alegría Federico Alegría

Watch Movies – Any Decent Ones You Like!

Movies are a great source of inspiration and knowledge. Here we have two options.

  1. The first one is to watch movies that will inspire us because they tell the life of certain photographers, therefore are movies about Photography itself.
  2. The other way of getting high-quality knowledge from movies is by watching the work of specific cinematographers. Try to discover the reason behind the point of view, cropping, lighting settings and focal lengths in movies' cinematography.

If you're really into photography, these sorts of topics should really interest you! It opens up a whole new way of watching movies.

Summary

Becoming a Street Photographer has more to do with an inner discipline of getting better and better. The battle is against ourselves because we are capturing images that matter to us.
We love to share them with the world, and the world respond positively or negatively to them.
We are not satisfying clients’ needs, concepts or looks; we are capturing meaningful stories that matter to us in the first place – life as it unfolds.


Street Photography Tips – Top Takeaways

  • Sounds obvious, but carry a camera. Get yourself something light enough to have on you all the time but powerful enough to get the images you want to shoot.
  • Get out there in your city, check out the trams and buses and trains, even get a little lost – if you're involved and within the culture, you'll stand a good chance of photographing those social connections you're after.
  • Become a regular in your neighborhood, get known, attend events & functions and snap photos with your camera – if you appear to be involved, people will notice and you will feel more comfortable taking natural photographs!

Further Resources

Further Learning

Arguably, there are areas of street photography just look better in Black and White. Check out this article when you're done here!
However, learning to create those Black and White images in post production takes some patience and practice – here’s a guide by Kent DuFault on Better Black and White, without having to spend money on presets and plugins!

About the author

Federico Alegria

Federico has 10 years of experience in documentary photography. He's dedicated to long-term photo-essays and is a University Professor teaching Photography, and you can get to know him better here

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