Image Credit: lechatnoir via iStock
Street Photography 101
Street photography is an interesting animal in that it can be wholly intimidating to photograph complete strangers on the street, but at the same time, it can be one of the most rewarding types of photography, too.
The whole point of street photography is to capture the essence of everyday life - totally unposed and unmanipulated - just as it occurs.
In order to do so, you have to have a certain kind of personality and confidence, the right approach to things like gear and composition, and a little luck always helps, too.
Here's a few tips to help you get started in street photography.
Street Photography Tip: Camera Settings
Likely the easiest way to get started in street photography is to set your camera to aperture priority mode (A or AV on your camera's dial).
Think of it as "manual mode lite" because instead of having to think about all three settings, you're only responsible for two.
If it's a clear, bright day, set the aperture to around f/11 or f/16 with an ISO of 200 or so. So long as the camera selects a shutter speed that's in the neighborhood of 1/200 seconds, you should be ready to rock.
Just keep an eye on the shutter speed, because if it becomes too slow (i.e., less than 1/60 seconds or so), you could end up with blurry shots.
If that happens, shoot with a larger aperture (i.e., f/8) and/or a higher ISO (i.e., 400) to help the camera select a faster shutter speed.
Street Photography Tip: Get in Close
Image Credit: selimaksan via iStock
As I mentioned earlier, one of the most intimidating things about street photography is photographing strangers.
But you have to get over that fear and just go for it if you're to get the results you want.
And for the best results, you need to get in close to the subject.
Many street photographers use wide-angle lenses (like 35mm or 24mm) for their photos, which provide a gorgeously wide view of the subject and their surroundings.
But with that wide-angle view, that means you have to get within a few feet of the subject to see them in all their detail.
So, set your fears aside, zoom with your feet, and get closer to your subject for a more impactful photo.
Bonus Tip: Take your camera with you everywhere you go. Even if you aren't inclined to haul around your DSLR, chances are you have a decent camera on your phone, so use it! Street photography is all about capturing the moment, so always be prepared to take a shot.
Street Photography Tip: Work Incognito
Image Credit: FXQuadro via iStock
Part of what will help you get the most authentic street photos is if you strive to be less noticeable as you work.
That means avoiding flashy clothing so you blend in with the crowd. For many street photographers, that also means working with a mirrorless camera rather than a DSLR, too.
This isn't a knock on DSLRs - it's just that they're a much larger camera body, and when you're trying to go unnoticed, a Sony a6300 is a much better choice than a Nikon D850 from a size point of view.
Additionally, how you carry your gear can make or break the element of working incognito.
Photo by Brandon Burk
You want something that's not only small and lightweight, but something that keeps your camera at your fingertips, yet out of the way at the same time.
There's only one piece of gear I know of that fits all of those bills - the Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo.
As you can see in the photo above, the MoneyMaker Solo is a slimmed down strap that allows you to carry your camera right by your side for quick shots.
But the manner in which it's constructed makes it the perfect way to carry a camera for street photography.
The single strap comes across your body like a shoulder bag or purse would, so most people might not even understand that it's a camera harness to begin with.
But unlike other camera harnesses, this one has tons of features to make it more comfortable and functional.
On the comfort front, there's a big, padded, contoured shoulder pad that helps distribute the weight of your camera.
On the functionality front, there's a stabilizer strap to help keep the shoulder pad in place, and on the other side is a belt anchor that holds the camera in place by attaching it to your belt.
That means that no matter if you're walking, running, standing, bending down, or somewhere in between, the MoneyMaker Solo will keep your camera out of the way, right where you want it.
Photo by Brandon Burk
Additionally, with a front D-ring, the MoneyMaker Solo allows you to add additional accessories that make your day easier.
Use it to hang your sunglasses when you don't need them or add a Holdfast Cell Phone Pouch so you have your phone, credit cards, and other necessities right there when you need them.
You can even add a Holdfast Lens Pouch to the MoneyMaker Solo, that way you can have two lenses to utilize on your street photography adventures.
On top of all that, the MoneyMaker Solo looks like a million bucks. The full grain leather is beautiful and supple, and the stainless steel hardware is durable and looks great.
That means that the MoneyMaker Solo is gorgeous, comfortable to wear, and incredibly functional, too. It's the best of all worlds!
Street Photography Tip: Shoot From the Hip
Usually, the best street photography results come from shooting with the camera drawn to your eye. But that's not always possible.
That means you need to practice shooting from the hip...
Taking photos in this way is tough, there's no doubt about it.
But like anything, if you practice, you'll start to figure out how to hold the camera to frame up the most pleasing shots.
Besides, shooting from the hip gives you a much lower eye level to work with, so the photos you take in this way will have a more interesting visual appeal.
Give it a try, practice a lot, and you could find that it becomes your go-to way of taking street photos!
Bonus Tip: Have fun and be friendly! If you're timid or have a scowl on your face, people will be far less receptive to you taking photos on the street. If you want to know how to do street photography, one of the key tips is to simply have fun!
For more tips on mastering street photography, check out the video above by Mango Street.