The beauty of photography is that it captures a slice of time, a moment, isolated from everything else around it. We are left with an image that tells a story, but we can only guess at it’s authenticity, it’s truth and it’s inner meaning. This is the very essence of street photography – but how do you go about it?
There is no denying that deciding to take a candid picture of a complete stranger or random scene unfolding is a ballsy thing to do, but it is not just bravery that gets the shot – it is being able to see it in the first place, and being ready once you do.
Practice ways of seeing – unless you know how to look you will never see.Get in the zone, be still, watch, anticipate and wait. Spot the finer moments in a movement, those little interactions. Wait for the bigger picture to emerge and indulge in the slightest thing that strikes you as inspirational.
Up close, or shoot from afar?Up close is great for capturing performers, street artists - subjects that are not going to change their demeanour because they know you are there. Up close is also great in big crowds – no-one will know that they are the subject of your shot. From afar is perfect for looking on unseen, but the distance can show the disconnection between you and your subject.
Imagine what the finished picture will look like – so you can just shoot and go!Your camera is at the ready, your subject is moving towards you. To make this work, you need to map your surroundings, and use markers to frame your shot. Only your subject is a variable, so you can sit, stand or walk whilst you wait and get your framing right for the second the anticipated moment arrives.
Asking permission – If you do, wait until you have taken the shot.The minute you ask permission, you have missed the moment, the picture has become something else, that slice of time has evaporated; your subject poses, you go home with street portraiture, not street photography.
Faking it – build confidence and take your time with some tricksy illusions!If you keep the camera to your eye in a crowded location, your subject will be none the wiser when you take a picture. Scan the crowd for a while, take your shot, then keep your camera to your face as you continue scanning. Alternatively, you can use a decoy. Get a partner to pose, make it look like you are taking a shot of them, then capture unsuspecting bystanders or a scene that is unfolding right next to you.
Minimise tell tale signs of taking a photo – to avoid missing the momentThis is especially important for digital cameras with their many beepings. Turn off any noises the camera makes, including shutter release. Also turn off LCD playback, especially if shooting in low light conditions, it is a huge giveaway.
Remember – whatever way you look at it, street photography is invading someone else’s privacy.In some cases it will go past unnoticed, in some cases noticed but not challenged. Do expect the odd occasion where someone will ask what you are doing, and may want you to see the photo. Now is your moment to win them over so you can keep the shot – but be courteous and delete the image if that is what they want.
Photos courtesy of Cheryl, Michael and Megsy