One of my favorite pastimes, especially when I’m in the city, is trying to capture people, and the ‘decisive moments’ they create, on camera. While the end results of street photography are often very satisfying it can sometimes be intimidating to photograph people you don’t know. I’ve never been a prolific portrait photographer but I’ve come to love the challenge of street photography and I thought I’d share twelve of my techniques so you can too!
what sort of camera should you use? Well, of course, you can use any type of camera for street photography but this is one of those occasions when a smaller camera is a distinct advantage. With a DSLR you have to lift the camera to your eye to take a photo and this can be a bit of a giveaway when you’re trying to take a candid photo of a stranger.
DSLRs also have the disadvantage of being large and bulky and, despite the fact that lots of people have them these days, they are still seen as being the choice of the ‘professional’ photographer by many. This can make them intimidating to subject and photographer alike in a situation where you’re trying to blend in.
What about lenses?
My personal favorite is a small prime lens. As well as being light and compact, lenses of this type tend to have a very fast maximum aperture so they let in lots of light and give you control over how much of your image appears in sharp focus. If you’re new to street photography it may seem more intuitive to pick a zoom lens. However, in this fast-moving genre, too much choice can actually slow you down as you try to figure out which focal length to use.
Shoot from the hip
If you’re using a DSLR you may not be able to use your LCD screen to compose and shoot. If you feel self-conscious bringing the camera to your eye, why not try shooting from the hip? Most prime lenses have a depth of field scale so try using manual focus and select a smallish aperture (say f11), setting your focus point at around 5 meters. With these settings, everything from about 3 meters to 15 meters away from you will be in focus and you can simply aim your camera at your subject and shoot.
Remember, you may need to raise your ISO to ensure a fast enough shutter speed. It will take a little practice to learn how far you need to be from your subjects to get them in the frame.