Street photography is a means of capturing society in the moment, a chance to document life as we know it, freezing human actions and reactions to the world around us. It's a great way to incorporate your photography with your responses to the community around you, here are five tips to get you started.
Step 1 - Location
Choosing your location is vital to the success of your work. You could view this as a chance to document somewhere that you know already or have explored before. It's a chance to understand the ambience of the place and it's people, and the chance to capture that on film. The alternative option is to visit somewhere you've never been before and go exploring with few preconceptions of what you'll find. It could be an opportunity to approach the place and it's community with an open mind, hoping to gain an understanding as you go and create at the same time.
Step 2 - Equipment
Traditionally, street photographers will use a 35mm lens (a wide/normal lens), which means you have to get up close and involved in the action. Though, you don't need a specific camera or equipment for street photography, anything will do.
There are a few tips on how to make it easier for yourself. The smaller the camera the better, as you'll be able to be discrete as you shoot. It's also useful to have a fairly quick lens that will freeze action as you see it, otherwise, the camera's response will be too slow to capture what you're seeing.
Step 3 - Eyes open and act fast
A lot of what street photography is about comes down to opportunism, catching that split second moment or reaction, so it's important to keep your eyes open and be observant. Have your camera ready and set so that as soon as you see something of interest, you can start snapping and respond.
Don't wait around to see if the scene before you develops into something different. Just capture it there, otherwise the opportunity will have passed before you know it. At the same time, don't worry too much about missed shots, there will always be more chances!
Step 4 - Rules & Laws
Be respectful of laws or regulations that may not permit photography in certain areas. Public officials are more wary than ever of people taking photos in public places due to the threat of terrorism. There are countless stories of innocent photographers being prohibited from carrying out their work, but it's important that you abide by set rules and co-operate with anybody who takes issue with your public work.
Step 5 - Now It's Your Turn
So there we have it, a super quick run down of the basics of street photography. Remember, it's all about being observant and taking your chances. Going out for the first time can be a bit nerve wracking, but after you've been out for a while it becomes a lot easier. It can be a lot of fun, observing people reacting and responding to situations within their daily lives. If you're really not sure about getting started, you could find a table outside a coffee shop and just sit, observe and shoot, which will get you in the mood and build up your confidence. Good luck!
If you've already started on your street photography journey, please don't hesitate to share links to your images below.
Photo by Simon Bray