As photography and photojournalism spreads like wildfire and makes images into a more democratic social act, a pretty specific genre has become quite popular in the last couple of years. Can you take a guess what genre we’re talkin’ about?
Ding, ding, ding! If you guessed street photography then you are absolutely correct. I’m assuming since you clicked on this link then you are one of the few people that understands the impact street photography has on our society. You understand how it is way more than just taking a few snapshots within random crowds of people. Street photography, similar to portraits, captures raw emotion. Except with street photography you are also capturing the highs and lows of different cultures. And with the current world we live in, there is something new almost every day to capture.
Today we are going to buckle down and get into the nitty gritty of street photography. We will go over five steps that no other street photographer will most likely share with you. These tidbits of information will help you capture reality in a meaningful way.
Let’s dive right into it!
1. Practice with Your Family and Friends
Being candid is one of the biggest challenges any aspiring (even well established) street photographer faces. It can be quite the struggle to achieve a natural look that seems like there was no photographer nearby. After some years of experience you develop certain social skills but you can hack the process a bit by practicing with your family and friends. They know you and you know them, therefore that nervous feeling of dealing with strangers won't be an issue for you.
They will most likely pose and ask you to get some shots, but after that, you can start shooting some serious candid frames. Those shots will be kinda like your school of hard knocks! Any occasion will work and remember, you are just training your eye and getting good at being candid, there is no rush for publishing now.
2. Always Carry a Camera while Commuting
You'll never know when the photograph of your life will slap you right in the face until it’s too late. Carrying a camera with you on a regular basis is a must. Keep your eyes off of your phone and carry a camera with you while moving from home to work. By simply doing this, the chances of capturing great photographs will immediately increase.
You have no idea of how much everyday life situations have to offer to street photography. That makes some serious sense if you start to think that street photography is mainly about capturing the meaningful life situations that happen around us while nobody else is truly watching life.
3. Try Using a Small Camera
Carrying a huge and chunky DSLR is really not wise for street photography, therefore, consider a small camera if you want to deep-dive into the world of street photography. Small cameras have a lot of advantages from being inconspicuous to being easy-breezy when hauling around.
So, I know you’re wondering. Why a small camera over your phone?
Well, my young photography Jedi, that is a very good question to ask. The answer is quite simple and pretty obvious if you think about it. If you carry a camera with you then you'll have more of an urge to shoot something, it makes you kind of guilty for not paying attention to your surroundings. Smartphones have incredible cameras but they also offer way too many distractions and we take them for granted.
There is nothing else that will make you feel the huge and deep need for photographing than having a camera with you.
4. Get a Wide Angle Lens
There is so much happening on the streets and using a wide angle lens will enable you to capture everything with enough context to tell thought provoking and meaningful stories. Wide angle lenses force us to get closer to the things we want to capture with our cameras, making us more in touch with reality - and there is no better feeling than that! Common wide angle lenses are 28mm and 35mm; wider lenses will distort everything and will give you some funny results that you simply don't want to have.
5. Invest in Photo books
After getting a trusty small camera there is only one thing left for you to invest in, photo books! You'll learn a whole lot simply by watching high quality street photographs in a physical way. Those big camera brands are probably going to cringe at this last piece of advice! Stop worrying about the latest and greatest when it comes to cameras and start browsing photo books from the past photo masters that helped pave street photography into developing as solid as we know it today!
These five tips and tricks are just a guideline but if you don't get the camera out of your bag and hit the outdoors, you won't become a street photographer. As Bruce Gilden says, “you need to smell the street in those photographs in order to say that those shots are indeed, street photographs!”