How to Prepare for Street Photography in Another City


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon G1X review images (21 of 28)ISO 3201-320 sec at f - 2.0

There are a number of things to consider before setting out on a trip – lodging, money, luggage, etc. – and for photographers, taking pictures is very close to the top of the list. If you’re visiting a city you haven’t been to before, it’s wise to do a little research before you go in order to get a sense of the place and know what to bring. If you’re starting out, here are some things to keep in mind ahead of your trip to a new metropolis.

Pack light. More gear means more to worry about on the go.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Langly Alpha Pro Camera Bag review photos (3 of 9)ISO 4001-950 sec at f - 1.4

As with all travel, packing is always a challenge. It’s very easy to overpack, and the quandary for photographers is, how much gear do you bring? The answer’s a simple one if you don’t own that much, but for those with more, the solution can be rather vexing. Pack according to what you anticipate shooting, whatever that means for you, though it’s healthier for your back and your sanity if you pack less gear. If not one camera and one lens, then one camera and a few lenses with, of course, some extra batteries and SD cards.

Don’t photograph for the first several days.

Fuji Provia 100F

New cities, particularly ones in different countries, can be very visually stimulating to the point where everything seems interesting. This hyper-saturation of new information can lead you to take photos that seem more interesting than they actually are. Take a couple of days to walk around the city in order to let its newness sink in. By getting at least somewhat acclimated to the place, you can better gauge which photos to take.

Look at work other photographers have done there.

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One of the best ways to prepare is to look at the work other photographers have done before you. By studying the works of others, whether it’s in galleries, online or in books, you’ll have a sense of what’s possible, and you’ll also have a sense of what to look for. Yet, do your best to not fall into the rhythm of shooting like other photographers in the same way that writers fall into the rhythm of writing like their favorite authors.

Decide what focal length you’ll shoot with, and stick to it.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Batis 25mm f2 first impressions (21 of 24)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 2.8

Dedicating yourself to a focal length, particularly a wider one around 28mm or 35mm, will do wonders. Not only will it take up less space in your bag, but it will force you to interact with your new surroundings. Yes, you can comfortably shoot wide all you want, but do your best to fill up that frame by getting closer.

Study the architecture to see how you can frame your images geometrically

Kodak Tri-X 320

Architecture is one of myriad things a city can be known for, and it’s one of the strongest indicators of the types of images you can shoot. The manufactured environment can help guide your eye and anchor your composition, giving your images a strong sense of geometry.Find spots that interest you visually, and go to those places to see what kinds of photographs you can take. They can be symbolic, too, depending on what you’re going for.

Go beyond the guidebooks by reaching out to local photographers

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Photographers are ostensibly better than many tour guides. They know the ins and outs of the best and worst neighborhoods, and they can give you insight to the culture, too. Many photographers, it’s fair too say, aren’t the richest folks, so they’ll know good spots to eat that are easy on your wallet. They make for good friends, too, who not only deepen your understanding of the city you’re visiting, but of photography, too, as a city can sometimes be best understood through its photographers.