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photo by South_agency via iStock
Street photography is a fun expression of the art of photography and can also be used as a form of photojournalism. Let’s have a look at some street photography techniques as well as street photography advice and tips.
What is Street Photography?
photo by vm via iStock
While street photography can be journalistic or artistic, or anywhere in between, it most usually refers to candid photography. Good candid photography is not unplanned. Part of the tips for street photography from classic masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson is to capture “the decisive moment.”
The decisive moment is often when the action is at its peak or when the subject is engaged in something. It’s a little slice of life that we capture on film or digitally and then display to others.
You can follow in the steps of the classic masters such as André Kertész and Dorothea Lange and create black and white images or find inspiration from color masters such as Helen Levitt and Saul Leiter.
Street Photography Equipment
photo by triocean via iStock
The first question on your mind is probably about the type of camera that should or could be used for street photography. The quick answer is that virtually anything will work. We really don’t need to have a right angle lens or a Vest Pocket Kodak as though we’re spying on people.
The most basic of cameras will work for street photography, from a smartphone to a professional DSLR. The five masters noted earlier used a variety of cameras such as professional 35mm rangefinder cameras, simple 120 roll film point-and-shoot cameras, among others.
A compact digital camera with interchangeable lenses and adjustable exposure controls is a workable choice for street photography. If you have an entry level camera with the kit lens attached, this will enable you to capture many types of street photography images.
The classic masters would tend to lean toward a couple of lenses, the normal lens for their format and a moderate wide angle. By moderate wide angle, we can list a lens of 35mm focal length in Full Frame 35mm format, 24mm in APS-C, or 18mm in MFT format, so the kit lens definitely has that focal length.
Of course, you need a bag to carry all your gear in...
For street photographers, it's tough to beat the HEX Ranger Sling V2. This bag offers eight liters of space for all your gear, yet it's a svelte bag - it hugs your body so you can move quickly and easily through crowded streets.
And when you need something out of the bag, it's a simple matter of sliding the bag from back to front to get what you need at a moment's notice. When seconds matter for getting the ideal street photos, this is precisely the kind of bag you need!
HEX did a fantastic job of designing this bag, particularly the interior compartment. There are adjustable dividers that allow you to change the way it's setup to accommodate different kits. There's also pockets lined with faux fur so you have a safe space for your phone, glasses, and other small items.
Add in a front access organizer for other small items, adjustable bottom carry straps, water-resistant genuine Cordura exterior, and smashing good looks, and you have the makings of a top-notch street photography bag!
Street Photography Techniques
photo by South_agency via iStock
Being able to use the viewscreen for framing is a definite plus for street photography, if it is a tiltable screen that’s even better. Because sometimes you want to be at least a little bit inconspicuous or not obvious in order to capture that decisive moment.
It might seem that exposure automation and autofocus is a no brainer method for street photography, but those automations can often work against us on the street when shooting from the hip, focusing on or properly exposing the wrong part of the image.
An excellent method to use for street photography is prefocusing at the hyperfocal distance. Hyperfocal distance is the distance on the focus ring that will provide the most range of in focus sharpness for a specific lens aperture.
photo by Image Source via iStock
You can download a smartphone app for calculating it, so I’ll just list one example. On a Full Frame format camera, a focal length of 35mm, f-stop or aperture of f/8.0, and a focus distance of 17 feet will give you everything 8 ½ feet to infinity in focus.
For exposure calculation, make use of the Sunny 16 Rule and it’s variations, which can also be found online or as an app. In order to have a decent enough exposure at that aperture of f/8.0 you chose, you will need to adjust the ISO and shutter speed to values that will match in the Exposure Triangle.
Other helpful street photography tips and techniques are to shoot in RAW so you have more exposure information to adjust in post processing and use ND filters if the light levels are too intense to provide the exposure settings you’re after.
How to Edit Street Photography
Since we’re likely shooting in RAW and possibly wanting black and white options for our end results, we will be post processing our images so we could use some information on how to edit street photography.
You may already be using a post processing program in your photography, if now, I highly recommend one with non-destructive editing. That feature saves on workflow and also saves computer memory space, both RAM and ROM, so you won’t have slow processing times or run out of storage quickly.
Like most artistic image styles in photography, street photography will benefit from an upgraded editing studio. The primary upgrades to an editing studio are the computer and the monitor. Faster CPUs and bigger RAM and ROM sizes speed up editing, while a larger monitor makes it easier to do multiple edits and closely monitor the changes you’re making.
An ultra wide screen monitor in a much larger size than the laptop monitor size, such as the ViewSonic VP3881 38 inch curved screen monitor, will greatly improve both your editing workflow and your editing results. As a nice added plus, the upgrade monitors are also extremely well suited for editing video files. Have you tried your digital camera’s video modes yet?
Street Photography Ideas
photo by FOTOGRAFIA INC. via iStock
Where do we get street photography ideas for creating our images? I like to search online for the classic and modern masters of different genres of photography, street photography has many of them. Just looking at the works of the five I mentioned earlier will give hours of viewing pleasure and interesting reading about their methods and street photography techniques.
photo by Maica via iStock
In fact, if you search the hashtags #streetphotography and #streetphotographers you’ll see excellent examples of modern images from photographers just like us from all over the world.
Online forums are another fine source for street photography ideas, we have an excellent one here on PhotographyTalk. Upload your street photography images and let us all enjoy and discuss them together.