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I have noticed that much of the advice that is doled out concerning street photography tends to revolve around technical matters. Set your aperture to f/8, set your shutter speed to 1/250th of a second and set your ISO to auto.
After settings are covered, people move right into discussions about gear. The pros and cons of a small, pocketable, fixed lens camera. The pros and cons of an interchangeable lens camera. Fujifilm, Ricoh, Sony, cell phone.
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I am not suggesting these issues aren’t important. It’s important to choose a camera that you’re comfortable using and has the features you want. It’s important to set your camera in such a way to best capture street scenes the way you envision them.
But above all that is the practical stuff — the stuff that will have the most significant impact on your growth as a street photographer.
Here are 6 practical tips to help you improve your street photography.
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Not everyone naturally has the constitution for street photography. Photographing strangers in candid moments can be unnerving for some people. If this describes you, the best way to get past your nerves is to shoot every chance you get.
Even if you are comfortable with the basic concept of street photography, you will still benefit from frequent shooting. Being comfortable is one thing, but if you want to be good at something, you have to do it often.
Your dedication will reveal itself in your output.
Exploration is a common theme for me when it comes to photography or any other creative endeavour.
While I appreciate the value of familiarity and photographing things, people and places that you know very well, it’s also vital to your creative growth to explore new things.
For street photographers in specific, that means shooting in different locations, whether it’s different towns/cities or different areas in your own town/city.
When you stray from the familiar, you’re sure to be exposed to new photographic opportunities that can breathe new life into your imagery and make you a more confident street photographer.
Rather than hand out specific advice about what camera to use, I’ll say that it is to your benefit as a street photographer to travel light.
You only need one camera and one lens.
Sure, there are undeniable benefits to carrying a small, lightweight camera that doesn’t intimidate people. But the reality is that any camera can be a street photography camera.
Set Up Camp
Walking and street photography are ostensibly a perfect match. But when you’re walking around looking for shots, you could very well be missing shots that you would get if you were standing still.
Instead of constantly walking, set aside some time to just stand still. Pick an interesting spot and let the action come to you. Here is where you’ll get to put your patience to the test because it’s unlikely that your perfect shot will present itself immediately. But good things are worth waiting for.
Be Prepared To Explain Your Craft
Keep in mind that not everyone understands or appreciates street photography. You, of course, have the right to photograph people in public, but there’s always a chance that someone will approach you wanting to know if (and why) you took their picture.
If that happens, simply tell them what you’re doing and offer to show them the photo. Odds are they’ll be flattered.
If someone is adamant about wanting you to delete the photo you took, it’s probably wise to grant their wish and just move on.
Pass Up The People
There’s no rule that says street photography has to include people all the time. It’s possible to make compelling street photos in which no humans appear. When you intentionally exclude people from your street photography, you are still capturing candid moments of the culture and environment around you — you’re showing different ways people leave their mark on the world.
That’s still street photography.
Whether you’re brand new to the genre or you’re looking for ways to improve, the tips above will help you get more comfortable and find purpose in street photography.
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