If you have a penchant for photography, chances are you’ve done your fair share of travelling as well. Some of your shots might be from vacation, or a scheduled shoot with a client, or maybe even coverage for an event. Sometimes, though, just walking along the streets can be in itself its own amazing venue for a ton of pictures with a ton of stories to tell. This kind of photography, called street photography, is sometimes the most challenging to execute particularly because most street photos are taken candidly. If this has ever piqued your interest, you might ask – so are there tips and tricks to take the best street photos?
If you’re aiming to get yourself a career in photography, or if you’re aiming to be a rising star in the industry, then good street photos might make excellent additions to your portfolio. Numbers state that while half of all photographers known by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are self-employed, the salaried ones also work in a variety of industries: advertising, television, magazine, newspapers, and even commercial, scientific, or technical photography. Showing prowess in taking candid photos might be an asset to help you land awesome gigs. So without further ado, here are a few tips to strengthen your street photos game:
1.) Choose the right lens for the location, which can be tricky given you may already have a lot of lens in your arsenal.
However, just because you want to take street photos doesn’t mean there’s a “one lens, fits all” category for you to choose. Telephoto lens can be tempting in this situation, but having giant lens pointed towards strangers might make others see you as a stalker. Try using a wide-angle lens if you’re in a big crowd, and if you have the resources, even choose a smaller camera than an actual DSLR. These compact cameras tend to be discreet, lightweight, and small – and as such easier for you to catch people in candid states. The trick here is to choose the kind of lens and camera combination that wouldn’t compromise your safety (as there really are muggers in some streets) but at the same time allow you to experiment with your shots. In speaking of,
2.) Try to do preliminary exploration before you take your photos.
If the location is somewhere accessible to you, try to know the location by heart and look for places you may want to hang out for you to be able to get good shots. Knowing the area beforehand makes exploration a lot more fun and safer for you. If you have a phone with you, try to take sample shots as well in order to get the feel of the potential output of your photos. Use this as a basis of the kind of angling and lighting you’ll need in order to perform your shots correctly.
3.) Make a shot list based on your preliminary exploration, as this allows you to have a clearer goal to achieve than to “just take shots.”
These shot lists allow you to have specific objectives to achieve and certain locations, events, people, or even scenes to capture. This makes the street photography session much more productive as you’re directed towards a goal.
4.) Adjust your camera settings accordingly, and try to make the settings into something that adjusts to a fast-paced environment.
Others generally prefer setting the camera to AV or aperture-priority mode, with your aperture (f-stop) and ISO being adjusted manually. This allows your camera to decide on the kind of shutter speed you need to adjust exposure properly based on your environment. If your current target location is on a sunny day, then perhaps an ISO 200-400 and f/16 might work best for you. If you have a camera that can pull off shutter speeds of higher than 1/200th a second, then you’re more or less in the clear. Remember, if your shutter speed is below the 1/80th mark, you’re likely to get blurred shots. If this is your camera, then you’re going to need to stay put whenever you take shots.
5.) Don’t be afraid to get close.
Sometimes, your subjects are best emphasized when you’re close to them. Using a wide-angle lens will allow you to do this move just right, and be able to highlight relevant aspects of their behavior and even provide a powerful context to your photos. If you’re observant enough, you can actually capture interest subjects that will tickle the imagination.
Conclusion: Timing, Preparation, Luck
Most, if not all, street photos tend to be candid. This is why a lot of people say photographers who love street photography tend to be skilled, because taking these shots tend to rely a lot on timing, preparation, and luck. If the above has told us anything. it’s that street photos can actually be taken with precision given enough practice, timing, and scheduling. Planning your sessions carefully and being familiar with the lay of the land are just two of the many efficient ways to use the street to your advantage.
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