Many people think that when doing street photography (S.P), it is about using the long zoom, stand far away, hide in the shadows and take candid pictures of people.. well, in my honest opinion, that’s the wrong way of doing things. I think most of the real street photographers would agree on this. The point of S.P is to capture the moment that we see when we are there! … not when you are some place else. Interact, get response, reactions, surprise from people, feel the atmosphere and situation. Trying to catch that unique moment (which is the hardest part) is the essence of S.P.
Images don’t have to be all that of the highest quality, who cares about pictures of some stranger in the streets, they are not celebrities… just normal people doing their business. Most of the time they are shy… friendly, but still shy, always hiding their faces from the lens. Then why bother with a good camera .? Well, we try to see the world in a different view, with an interesting interpretation, capturing the moment, so there is a story to tell. Catching that “moment” needs a fast, reliable and easy equipment. Makes sense to get a good device right.? Just don’t hurt the wallet too bad.
For everyone ?
- Walking the streets, sometimes for miles and hours,
- taking pictures of strangers.
- having people stare at you in an awkward manner…
- returning empty-handed.
Scenes not interesting enough.? too normal and mundane? Despaired? Well, what did you expect. ? It’s the street..!! Sometimes on the “good” days, after a-hundred shot, only 3 is memorable enough.!! Lucky for us this is the digital age huh.? frankly speaking S.P ..
…. is not for every one…
Seeing in black and white..
black and white images have been the favorite choice in S.P (my fav too)… It isolates the subject and scene from the distracting color. Using colorless images reveals the tones, texture and shape of the subject in a whole new dimension and vision.
look for interesting lines and patterns.. they draw the image and landscape in an abstract way, making the scene interesting.. The little girl was walking at a quiet and vacant street.. the space and the way the lines draw the picture, wouldn’t be that prominent had it be in colour. The black and white zebra stripes on the road kerb also makes a pattern.
Portrait candid shots always makes an interesting picture.. we are close and they don’t realised they are being photographed. The candid non-posed shots sometimes turns out better than the posed ones as they are more realistic and feels closer to us. However, I do take care not to invade their privacy and, often seek approval after taking their pictures. Always be aware or their expressions when they see you.. do they look angry.? or they don’t bother.? . If they look disapprovingly at my actions, I just say “hi, may I ?” it saves a lot of uncomfortable moments later on.
Still, I think S.P pictures looks more interesting if the expression is more deprecating, compared to when they are unaware and emotionless, If you think the group of people would become angry because you are taking their pictures, keep doing it, so you can catch all the expression, try this at your own risk. 😀 (I’m just kidding, don’t follow that last advise) …. that comes to, Eye Contact… Images get a different mood, and story, and it all depends on how the situation is.
children’s are fun to take pictures of, (who doesn’t know that. ? ) they exhibits sincerity and the expressions are easily seen, and most of them are too eager to get their pictures taken. Just be careful not to cross the line & get chased away by the parents… He was playing at the stall where his family are selling some snacks, in his pyjamas.
Some people are friendly, when seeing photographers, gets cheerful and excited. When doing S.P.. it is common that you’ll make friends, and get new acquaintances, being honest and polite takes us a long way. But still be aware of people who may cause danger or take advantage, unless on assignment and you have a guide/ personal body-guard, that’s probably not an issue …. I do most of my S.P alone.
Life in reality, as said earlier, are the core of S.P… It shows reality, humanity and sometimes a mirror of ourselves, whether we like it or not. Always, respect the person that are being photographed. Portray not to belittle and humiliate but to bring self-awareness and see the world at all perspective, not just our selfish-view. This blind man, is selling small packets of wipes at a closed shop lot behind him. What interested me was the way the pattern of his background and the shadows and lights that fall on him.
The blind man and his wife, sitting at this alley, which leads to the shop-houses behind. Was nicely framed and highlighted with the sun-lights at the end. The contrasting left and right walls and brick lines creating a pattern in the image, managed to make this simple scene interesting.
Simplicity, when framing the picture, highlights the subject even more, well, apart from the good-looking girls and all, of course that is a bonus, the plain white background, the 2 girls walking and the bunch of wooden box on the streets, make a simple and interesting scene.. too bad there wasn’t much interaction or eye contact.. This was taken with a 200mm… too far for them to notice.
With simplicity, there is also complexity. Complex images are easy to capture, even a 5-year-old can do that, because at the streets it is usually all chaos and full of them … But to create a memorable and interesting one, actually is more difficult than doing simple images… The reason is, the busy scene and background, will overwhelm what ever subject that we plan to depict. This image reflecting the scene at the market late in the afternoon, transition time between day and night. Few people are still buying and selling. Some free space in between the stalls where customers move around, creates a breathing space in this picture.
If you have read this article untill that line, thanks…. the saying ” a picture is worth a thousand words, my twelve pictures here is worth 980 words only.. 🙂