Street photography often gets a lot of photographers nervous. They’re nervous because they immediately shift their mind to the worst. What if someone is angry and attacks you? What if you accidentally take a photo of a child? Indeed, our minds hyperinflate the worst parts of it. So if you’re nervous about street photography, then consider this tried and true method that we’ve used for many years.
“Like all street photography, I believe that the main purpose here is intent. If your intent is to take creepy photos of people for your own sick fetishes, then your intent is harmful. If you’re photographing a scene because you’re trying to satiate your artistic hunger, then that’s different. The way that you do it is all about what’s best for you. If you shoot from the hip though, you’re more likely to be called a pervert in public. If you shoot with the camera to your eye, you’re likely to just be yelled at by someone.”From our article: On Shooting from the hip in street photography
Shooting From the Hip
The trick here if you’re nervous about street photography is to shoot photos from the hip. The trick is to never start out necessarily by putting the camera’s viewfinder or screen to your eye. This slows you down if you’re using a modern camera. But if you’re using a modern camera with a manual focus lens and you’re zone focusing, the whole act of shooting a frame is much faster.
So to start with, have the camera wrapped around your chest and extend the strap down to your hip. Then shoot the scenes in front of you from the hip. Yes, we know that you’re not looking through the viewfinder or the LCD screen. And that comes with the next exercise.
“I think that when I started out shooting on the street I tended to be a little self-conscious and definitely inexperienced. Going out to shoot was a bit of therapy for me at the time (and still somewhat is) and I wanted it to be a pleasant and relaxing activity but those self-conscious thoughts would get in the way from time to time. Through going out more and more often and changing my thoughts, my experiences became even more positive.”Rinzi Ruiz in our article on how famous street photographers got over their fears.
Ideally, when you’re doing street photography, we think that you should shoot with a prime lens and you should know your focal length. Shooting street photography with a 35mm lens? Well, at any point, you should be so familiar with your lens that you know how it’s going to see the world from any angle. Some of us see the world in 35mm. But if you don’t then reach for a 28mm, 50mm, or something else. Some folks prefer an 85mm lens just to be extra safe.
But here’s the point: if you know how your camera and lens will interpret the world with 35mm lenses, then you’ll be confident enough simply just pointing your camera at a scene and pressing the shutter.
Tips on Doing Street Photography From the Hip
Here are some essential tips on shooting street photography from the hip:
- Sometimes you need to get closer than you think.
- Zone focus your lens. Set it to manual focus, stop the lens down, raise your ISO up or set it to auto, set your camera to a fast shutter speed, and then just walk up to a subject and photograph it.
- Shoot a few frames and then stop shooting and take a look at what you’ve shot. Consider the photo you again against what you wish you’d captured. Then make adjustments accordingly.
- Zone focusing is far better than autofocusing most of the time.
- The more narrow your aperture, the easier of a time you’ll have getting the shot.