There are many exciting and interesting kinds of digital photography, and one of these is commonly called street photography. The biggest challenge for many photographers, however, is simply taking their camera onto the busy streets of any city and photographing people, who may or may not be pleased that they are being photographed. You can learn how to overcome this fear and many other techniques of street photography by reading these PhotographyTalk.com articles:
The goal of this PhotographyTalk.com article is to share an idea that will very likely make it easier—and safer—for you to break through whatever barrier is stopping you from enjoying this very fulfilling type of photography.
Instead of heading to the noisy, crowded streets of the city as a “rookie,” choose a local tourist attraction, as a more-controlled environment for your first experience photographing people in public places. Begin by dressing like a tourist, the more stereotypical the better. Even bring a tourist map and refer to it occasionally, so you blend with the crowd. Join a group of tourists, many of them with cameras too, and follow them as they view the sites. As you pretend to show interest, scan the crowd and the area for individuals that could be good subjects for your photos.
Next, shoot a few frames of whatever the tourists are photographing; however, don’t take your eye from the camera. Remain in that position as you survey the people in your group through your lens. When you find a compelling picture, press the shutter release. Shoot this first photo, and then look for another with the camera still to your eye. The “honest” tourists will just think you are clicking various snapshots similar or identical to theirs.
As you experiment with and develop this technique, you’ll discover that you can stand quite close to people you are photographing and they won’t even be aware of what you are doing. Not only will you capture some images to give you confidence to try more street photography, but also your fear of shooting people, secretly, will start to diminish. You can also try this technique at any public gathering, where other people have cameras, such as parades, street fairs, festivals, etc.
Another aid to practicing street-photography techniques in these environments is to look for distractions that catch the attention of the people around you. At a theme park, a juggler or mime might suddenly start performing or a costumed character may be interacting with children. In some cases, adults may be focused on their cell phone or iPod, or even their camera, which provides you with the perfect opportunity for a fascinating picture.
From the very beginning of your street photography experience, it is important to remember that governments at all levels are wary of anyone taking pictures of scenes or facilities that could possibly be targets for terrorism. The streets of major cities around the globe are equipped with many video cameras. The best idea is to seek information about any laws in the city, where you want to shoot on the streets, pertaining to what you are allowed and not allowed to photograph. With that information, you are unlikely to be questioned by police or other security personnel. If you are stopped, then simply state you are a photographer shooting pictures for private use and show a valid ID.
Another technique that will make street photography easier and more enjoyable is to be accompanied by a friend. You can pretend to take pictures of him or her, keep your eye to your camera and then move to shoot the photo of the person you actually targeted. A friend can also help you feel more secure by being your eyes and ears while you’re concentrating on your photography.
Practice street photography in the safer environments of tourist attractions and fairs first, where it is easier to hide what you’re doing, until you’re ready for the challenge of the “wild” streets. You’ll be better prepared and more likely to bring home some truly appealing digital photos.
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Stanley Beck