3 Quick Street Photography Tips

Street Photography is more popular than ever these days and it’s only going to grow in popularity in the future. For many new photographers street photography is the easiest sub-genre to dive right into, even easier for some than portraiture. I’m Ric Ray (more about that here) and I’ve been shooting the streets for around two years now. I am no Henri Cartier-Bresson in the slightest, but In my 24 months I’ve learned some things to pass along to folks thinking about diving into street photography, or those already shooting the streets like me who would appreciate all the help they can get. So…here goes!

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Turn up the ISO and stop down the aperture. 

When I got my Canon Ef 50mm 1.8 lens all I wanted to do was shoot it wide open. Everything I shot was at f1.8-f2.8, and I felt like I was doing something wrong artistically if I shot as narrow as f7.1. My ISO was 100 and no higher than 400. As I gained more experience shooting and editing I began wanting more of the background in focus. After some research I abandoned shooting in manual for street photography and started shooting in aperture priority (I did this for various reasons). I set my aperture between f7.1 and f11 and the ISO I set between 400 and 1200. In this configuration my shutter speeds jump around and sometimes are too slow if my target is in the shadows, but rarely do they dip to longer than 1/100th of a second. If they do I open up the aperture a bit.

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The sidelines after a Lacrosse match is the perfect place to snap a street photo.

The “Street” in Street Photography is not a place. It is a state of mind. 

I’m not talking about being some sort of mental tough guy (or gal) when out there taking photos, even though being timid and passive generally wont benefit you much. I am speaking of the preconceptions people have about what constitutes street photography in the first place. Without sparking some sort of philosophical debate I will confidently assert that it is totally possible to shoot “street” captures in a concert hall, or at the mall, or during a soccer game. None of these place are technically “the streets” but that doesn’t matter! Don’t let your mind be limited by where you are. Set your camera, compose and shoot.

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Don’t let that mean mug scare you. Stay low and KEEP SHOOTING!

Get the photo first. Apologize later. 

Street Photography can be intimidating for both the shooter and the subject. Learn to be brave and take the shot. Chances are the person you are photographing will just give you a puzzled look and keep going, and if they stop the worst that will normally happen is they will ask you to delete the photo. I have never deleted a single photo against my will, but thats just me. Also, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a shot and being too timid to push the shutter. I’ve been there and I’ve cursed myself out afterwards. Bonus tip: MOVE ON TO THE NEXT SHOT! Don’t dwell on a missed shot you didn’t take or one that has camera shake or motion blur or is out of focus. Adjust your camera. Remember your practice and training. Keep shooting.

What do you guys think? Can you offer any tips? Disagree with my tips? Leave a comment! I’m just living within the daily micro-struggle and any info I receive is appreciated. Please also follow my blog and no matter what: Stay Low and Keep Shooting……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “3 Quick Street Photography Tips

      1. Maybe you can go out and lend one to check it out before you commit the cash. I have one (using m4/3 its a 17mm f/1.8 prime) and use it much more than the “nifty fifty”. Its a great focal lenght for capturing street life as the angle of view resembles that of the human eye.

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