Take a prime lens, set the aperture from 7 to 11, ISO in auto mode — novice street photographers know these basic truths. But in street photography, the technical side is not more important than the creative side. Ingenuity, imagination, fantasy are more important than the quality of the image detail. We collected 12 life hacks with which street photos will be transformed.
Use manual focus
Depending on the accuracy of autofocus when the subject is approaching is unwise. There may not be a second chance to catch a shot. Set the focus manually to 1.5–2 meters — and shoot. This will make it easier and faster to shoot.
Aperture f / 8‑f / 16 will increase sharpness, the blurry effect will not appear at shutter speeds no slower than 1/250. ISO can be increased to 1600 or 3200 — in street photography, no one is chasing glossy quality.
Carry business cards with you
Random people always fall into the lens of a street photographer. Many people don’t like it. Make business cards with your data, addresses of pages in social networks, contacts. People will understand that you are a photographer, not an enemy intelligence spy. At the same time, get rid of unnecessary stress and find new subscribers.
Visit another city
Shooting in an unfamiliar city has two advantages at once:
- More new locations, images, ideas.
- It is easier for novice street photographers to liberate themselves in places where they have not been, where no one knows them.
Take pictures by yourself, without company
Another piece of advice — simple but very important — from the field of psychology. Walking around the city with a crowd of paparazzi is fun and exciting, but it will go to the detriment of a street photographer. People around will be suspicious of the team with cameras — tension will increase.
More experienced comrades will make the photographer nervous at the sight of their evaluative opinion. Alone, you are more likely to feel yourself, the atmosphere, the atmosphere.
Learn your camera by heart
Life hack is banal, but many beginner street photographers miss the basic rule. On the street there is no time to think which button to press. Sometimes there is no time even to release the camera shutter.
The photographer who blindly adjusts the equipment in a split second will always win and get a great shot. And this is the ultimate goal.
Experiment with angle
Taking pictures from the height of your height is boring and uninteresting. The world is revealed in unexpected projections. It is worth lowering the camera to the level of the hip or the floor — and a simple picture is transformed. Shooting from the hip has an added bonus: people will not immediately realize (or not at all) that they are being photographed. Yes, it is more difficult to line up a frame, but the more practice, the more successful photos you will get.
Take more shots
A street photographer can wait 5, 10, 20 minutes or even several hours for a good shot. But when the composition develops, he will take 3, 5, 9 shots — as many as the camera and the situation will allow. More photos — more room for error — more material for analysis. Street shooting is not an art house where everything is shot in one take. Don’t be afraid to clog your memory card. The 36-frame rule that existed on old film before the DSLR era is no longer relevant.
Bright sunlight and solid shadows are taboo for a classic photo. But street photography is not for conservatives. Use the sun and shadows, change the angle and go beyond the rules, use flash — this is what street art lives and breathes. The black details in the photo open up a new perspective on form and content.
Make bad weather your ally
When it’s pouring down the street, like from a bucket, when fog envelops the horizon, you don’t want to go out. Experienced street photographers immerse themselves in the thick of atmospheric phenomena. They know that rain, snow, wind and haze are a rich drama, a strong effect for street photos.
Put on a raincoat, carry an umbrella with one hand — and take pictures of reflections in puddles, wet people, objects stuck in the fog. Nature itself gives the composition.
Combine artificial and natural light
During sunset, the sky turns into soft pastel colors. This palette, combined with artificial street lights, forms mesmerizing color compositions. If you love evening photography, add a couple of these shots to your portfolio.
If you need to capture a unique object or person in the picture, there should be no distracting elements in the frame. When shooting, always look at the edges of the frame more than at the center. It is at the edges that extra elements usually appear.
Getting a feel for the setting, waiting for the charismatic protagonist and clicking the shutter is a good plan. To give free rein to spontaneous impulses and to let street life convey its surroundings — too. Street photos surprise even when the photographer does not think about the picture. Do not be afraid to impromptu and improvise.
Don’t chase faces
Faces, emotions, profile and full face are not included in the mandatory checklist of street photography. Use different methods. Find a person and take a photo from the back, creating a story. Let the character be unusually dressed or combed.
Work with silhouettes
The figure, the backlight, the adjusted exposure — and here the magic of the black silhouette is born in the picture. Wait for the character to pose or get into character and you’ll be surprised how deep and fun silhouette street photos can be.
Respect the rules of decency and be polite
It is always easier to ask permission from a person than to prove to him your right to shoot on the street. Conflicts and bad mood will affect the quality of the shots. If you are filming without the knowledge of a person, but he suddenly noticed you, smile. Ask to be an object. If a person refuses, try a move with a business card or delete the photo. And do not forget: according to the law, you can not shoot everywhere.
Exercises for street photographers
We have prepared several simulator exercises that will help you improve your skills as a street photographer.
Select a pedestrian and follow the path he is walking. Shoot not him, but what you see around — as if your pedestrian is the driver of a tourist bus, and you are a passenger in it. Keep your distance and do not scare your “driver” with pursuit, and if you are behind or lost sight of him, choose a new pedestrian guide.
Every time you take what you think is a good shot, turn around and take another shot. Remember, a great story might be hiding behind your back.
Choose a color that will be on each picture of the series. Move from big to small — first shoot large objects, for example, a blue house, a blue car. Then move on to medium shots and details — a blue coat, a blue shop sign.
Who has not dreamed of managing time as a child? With a camera, you can do it. Imagine that you are creating frames for a fantasy film. Choose one location for yourself — so the results of the exercise will be more visual. And “freeze” the movement in it, as if time had stopped. Start with one or two people in the frame, so it will be easier to build a composition and make an interesting photo. Then gradually increase the number of participants for whom time “stops”.
Street photography will require skills and knowledge of the basic laws of photography. But in the niche of street photography, fantasy and originality are valued higher. You can compensate for the lack of experience with your non-trivial vision and talent. Street photography forgives almost everything, except for the stereotyped approach. Choose the best street camera and get creative.