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Street photography isn’t easy. That’s why so many people struggle to execute it to a high standard. It’s not just the creative aspect that’s difficult; it’s also the practical side. To do street photography well, you need a lot of confidence. Some have it right away, while others need to build confidence up over time. For those of us who have been shooting street photography for many years, there are some clear signs of a street photographer lacking in confidence. Let’s take a look at them.
Street Photography / Photos from Behind
One of the biggest barriers to fluid street photography is the fear of getting caught. The idea of people spotting you taking their picture without them knowing can give new street photographers crippling anxiety. That’s why so many make photos of people from behind. Sure, there are times this can work artistically, but for the most part, it shows you’re still struggling with your confidence. In this case, you just have to take the plunge and make photos of people’s faces. Give yourself a pep talk, tell yourself you can do it, and make it happen.
Street Photography / Taking Photos from Far Away
To avoid getting too close and personal, many street photographers opt to use a telephoto lens. While there’s no fixed rule as to what gear you should use for street photography, you will lose lots of emotion if you’re standing far away from your subject. When we see compression in your image, we know you’re using a telephoto lens. Whereas if you use something like a 28mm (or wider), we will see a little distortion if you’re in nice and close to your subject. The closer you are to your subject, the more emotion you get in your photographs.
Street Photography / Blurry Photos
Blurry photos are not a bad thing. In fact, they give some lift to your images as they communicate motion. But, if all your images are blurry, it tells us two things are happening. Firstly, you’re not correctly setting your exposure. And secondly, you’re rushing the shot because you don’t want to get caught. Ideally, when you’re shooting a scene, you want to stand with your camera held firmly to your eye and then take multiple exposures of the scene. But if you’re rushing your street photography, rapidly lifting your camera up and down, your images will often be out of focus and blurred. Train yourself to take your time, stick with the scene, and get the shot you want.
Taking Photos of Women/Elderly
This point may be slightly controversial, but it’s true, especially for male street photographers. If you only make photos of women (who may or may not be able to kick your ass) and older people, it’s a sign you’re only willing to make photos of people you don’t see as a threat. It makes sense to some degree, especially if you’re worried about a physical altercation, but the reality is you’re limiting yourself. Most people won’t ever know you took their photo, so make photos of people from all walks of life.
It Takes Time to Overcome
There’s nothing wrong with lacking confidence. But if you want to become a solid street photographer, you have to find ways to overcome your barriers. Don’t beat yourself up if you currently lack confidence. It takes time to build, and you can also enjoy the process of improving yourself. The result, in the long run, will be higher self esteem and better street photographs!