If you're trying your hand at street photography but don't seem to be able to create images that really “grab” viewers, you're not alone. This genre isn't as easy as many newcomers may think, and it takes more than good technical skills to come up with photos that pull your viewers and potential buyers in. With that in mind, my previous article offered 5 tips to help you find and create those shots and in this one, I'm going to give you 5 more, with the hope that they'll help you get a foot in the door to a genre that can generate a good income in the right marketplace.
Let's jump right into it, shall we?
Find the Right Camera Angle
One of the worst habits for any photographer is constantly shooting at eye level. Unfortunately, it's also an easy habit to develop in an opportunistic genre like this one. In addition to that, you may often be trying to remain unnoticed, which isn't easy if you're crouching, kneeling, squatting or climbing to get the correct angle. In many cases, though, it's worth the effort, since a change in your point of view can make all the difference in the story behind the shot.
Try shooting from a balcony, catwalk or other elevated vantage point. Have a seat on a park bench and see how it changes your perspective. Lie down in the grass. You'll be surprised at how the scene changes for you and, in turn, your viewers.
Don't Fear the Tilt
We spend a lot of time drilling the idea of level horizons and upright verticals into heads. In a less formal genre like street photography, letting the camera go “out of plumb” isn't just more acceptable, it can sometimes create just the right kind of dynamics for an image.
Disclaimer: This particular technique is VERY easy to overuse. 'Nuff said.
Watch for Interaction
One of the most interesting things about “people watching” watching them interact with one another. Try to develop a sense for knowing when something's about to happen. Anticipating moments of spontaneous interaction between people on the street will help you capture the kind of emotional impact that comes from a kiss, an argument, a punch in the face – you get the picture (pun intended).
Use the Background
Shallow depth of field and bokeh can add a lot to a street shot, but keep in mind that your images should tell a story. The background can often help develop that story, by adding a sense of place. Consider whether what's going on behind a subject can help describe the moment. If so, be sure your aperture setting will give you enough depth of field to include the background details.
Be a Part of the Scene
Finally, let's talk about the idea of street photographers being “covert”. While that often works, it can also work against you. Don't be afraid to let your cover be “blown” now and then. Interacting with the people around you may help them relax and accept you, which opens the door for photos with personality. The trick is to learn to smile and be polite – including polite enough to delete a photo if a subject objects. Fitting in is a skill well worth honing.
What to Do with Those Great Shots
Practicing these 5 tips along with those in the previous article should help you add “punch” to your street shots in a surprisingly short time. Give them a try and see. When you see the improvement, get them out there for others to see. I recommend opening a free KeepSnap account and carrying your cards while you're out shooting. You may be pleasantly surprised when people buy your work.