On the surface, street photography can look easy. You go for a walk and take photos. But I have learned enough to know there is a lot more to it. Picking up your camera and going for a walk is only the beginning. Street photography is an art form that has been practiced for some time. A person can only get better through practice. Over this past summer, I took it upon myself to try to refine my street photography. There are many lessons to be learned from photo walking almost every day.
Use The Camera You Are Most Comfortable With
Today, most cameras are decent to fantastic. There are no bad cameras and it is up to the photographer to create good images. Just because a camera cost around $6000, like the Nikon D4, does not mean it is a good street photography camera. Sometimes in these situations, a Nikon 1 v3 will do. My camera of choice for street photography is a Sony A7. For me this camera is comfortable on long photo walks. It is light, nimble and adaptable. Whatever camera you decide to use, make sure it’s right for you. Do not always got with what others suggest. When you use a camera you are comfortable with you will have an easier time trusting your senses and getting images you like.
Use Lenses To Help Develop Your Creativity
If you are using a camera with interchangeable lenses, you have a lot to think about. One of the most important lessons is to switch out lenses now and then. Working with a variety of lenses helps your creativity and keeps your mind thinking differently. With different lenses you can see one subject in multiple ways.
However, you also have to learn to shoot with one lens a day. It’s a tough concept at times but you will find yourself more creative with limits. Despite these limits you will learn you can still create fantastic images. Yes, you will miss the occasional shot because you are shooting with a lens that can’t handle it. It won’t leave you at a loss though, it will force you out of your comfort zone.
Leave Your Comfort Zone At Home
A person who stays in their comfort zone never truly realizes the full extent of their creativity. Yes, it is nice to stick with what you know–but the world is dynamic. You should be too. All human progress is driven by conflict. Being uncomfortable with your photography at times can teach you a lot about yourself. One of the things I did to be uncomfortable was to wake up every day at 4:30 am to be on a 5:07am train to New York. It allowed me to see New York in new ways.
Bring Your Own…
Learn to bring your own coffee, food and water. I found that stopping for coffee or to buy food can get expensive and time consuming. If you have to maximize your photography time, not having what you needed to sustain yourself could cause you to miss moments. Getting the occasional meal and coffee is good for food photography images if you want to do that on the side or just for fun. However, if you are not made of money the cost of a daily photo walk can add up quickly if you are not careful.
Use The Right Camera Bag
Your camera bag can make or break your photo walk. Depending on when and where you do your photo walks, you may have to carry extra gear, cleaning equipment, or lunch. I used my Think Tank Urban Disguises 60 v2 the most because my photo walks were before work, and I had to keep a laptop with me. You have to measure what you have to carry versus what you need to do for the day
Respect People And Your Environment
In street photography people will be your subjects. The most import thing to do to refine your street photography is to respect all people. It does not matter if they are poor or rich. They deserve your respect. One of the things I had to learn was to read people. I had to know when they were comfortable with me up close or at a distance. Most people like me at a distance. If you seem threatening or come off as aggressive you can find your self in a bad situation. Not everyone wants a camera shoved in their face. You have to be calm and smile. Not every place is safe either. If you had a bad feeling about a spot, go with your gut. This is true especially if you’re alone. People can see your equipment and see you as a target.
Be An Observer
One of the most important thing I learned and refined on my almost daily photo walks was to observe. To see the stillness in an empty street in the village. The elderly faces walking on the path. The moment when the light passes through the bridge as I consider the shadow. If you don’t observe where your are, you will never see it. You have to some time walk slowly to take in a scene. An image will appear.