Why is it so hard to define what Street Photography is about? Why do all attempts to describe this genre remain so oddly diffuse? Why is there no 25-pages-manual, something you can read and (hopefully) understand and off you go? You may be master of your gear, you may have done amazing macros, table-tops, architecture-shots and even portraits, and yet you may not have a frigging clue afterwards, what Street Photography is about. Because it is something very personal. Because you have to leave your shell. Because you have to – in some cases – expose yourself. Because you have to love people. Street Photography is about empathy, not hate. It is about community, even if it pictures solitude. It can be ironic, but never offending. When you are taking street shots you are commenting, much like a journalist. And this gives you a good deal of responsibility.
Street Photography is easy. And it is difficult. It is easy because you find your subjects virtually everywhere. You don’t need to go for the extraordinary. Far from it. The ordinary, everyday-thing is our matter of interest. It is difficult because the line to taking snapshots and photogrpahs is very thin. Snap-shooters produce pictures, but don’t take photos. Snapshooters just direct their camera to whatever comes in sight and press the button.
Street Photographers work differently. Their photo has been created in their mind – long (seconds or milliseconds) before they release the shutter. Street Photography is – “about seeing and reacting”. “Seeing” is the important part. Light, lines, fore- and background, movement, things and people that happen to interact for a second. If you don’t see these moments, feel them, live in them, all the time, with or without camera, then Street Photography is probably not for you. The “reacting” part is indispensable.
Although photography is magic, you can train your photographic view.It takes extraordinary creativity or lot of practice and self training to develop a photographic eye for everything you click.Its only then you are a true photographer.But don’t try to be someone else. Idols are fine. Learn from them. But don’t imitate them . Be yourself. When you go out hunting on the street, it is you, with all that you know and feel. You react to people, people react to you. This is what makes the really special photos special.
If you don’t feel well in public places, if you happen be the autistic type of guy, Street Photography is probably not for you. If you think that using a 300mm makes you a Street Photographer then you are dreaming. Get close and be part of the scenery, visible or unnoticed, but don’t behave like an intruder.
If you still carry the manual of your camera with you in your bag, come back when you are able to operate it blindfolded or from your hip. But if you feel that your camera is an organic part of your body and the lens your third eye, go out and play.
Great photographer once said : “Photographers are like butterflies. They flutter from photo to photo.” Be a butterfly. Street photography, the term seems explanatory but Its not just about clicking on the street but also capturing the activities in its immediate surroundings. So it could be children playing around, beggars begging around and dogs lurking around or it can just be the warmth of the relationship streaming around(eg a father teaching his toddler to walk )….
Our world is filled with an untold amount of images waiting to be captured. A street photographers challenge is not finding the shot.. but missing it. Bottom line, street photography is a tradition. The art has been carried down by those who cannot take another step before capturing that moment. This tradition of capturing the world around us, for the sole purpose of retaining the unique situations that make life charming and exciting, is what separates street photography from the rest.
For almost a century photographers have been fascinated by this genre of photography as there is no dearth of good subjects .Street offers plethora of opportunities to both professionals and amateurs to hone their skills in photography and that is why it is challenging . Street photography can also be challenging and exciting. Be it a spy shot or a photo right in front of the (human) subject… both give an adrenaline rush. the finger itches and the heart beats … then we decide to take the photo, no matter what will happen. As long as you stay unnoticed, it works wonderfully.
There are people on the streets, shops, crowd, animals, monuments, skyscrappers etc .Where ever your eye leads you will witness the ecstasies of life and celebration of human relationships .The subject can vary from a portrait of a kid on the streets to tall structures meeting the sky.
Street photography requires right mix of sensitivity, agility and sense of timing . Normal activities like people playing cards ,couples sitting in park or bench by the lake, a boy riding a bicycle etc need a photographic eye to bring out the subtle beauty of these moments. Street photography is essentially done in black and white but this is not a rule. Black and white reduce the clutter due to excessive colours in the surrounding and brings out the character of the photograph to the viewer.
The best you can do is taking a photo without having any influence on the scene at all, then you have a real street shot and therefore you need the right gear as well. An analogue slr is the best for this purpose. I use Nikon FM 10 .A dslr works just fine but the feeling of slr is better only disadvantage being not able to see the pics at the same time.Something I enjoy about street shots are when the person (be it in main focus or someone else in the frame) is looking at you or at the camera. Ilike these photos when you don’t see that the person realizes the camera but just looks in your direction. That happens when you’re so quick that you take the facial expression and look of the eyes before the person realizes that you take a photo. It’s a question of seconds or even milliseconds… You can capture with your mind or with your heart. Sometimes with both.. but mainly street photography and analogue is with heart and displays feelings. Other forms are a challenge to mind but for the heart,
the heart is street photography and when I write this, I realize it more and more.
Just go out on the sides and start experimenting .The more you will practice it the better you become.Track down the fairs and carnivals in your city because these are the best places to shoot variety of people in different attires, moods, and one gets to see the peculiarities of people. Capture groups of women ( in the frame ) and kids brimming with joy and enthusiasm. Keep your photograph simple and don’t clutter them with unwanted elements which make the photograph visually jarring. Photograph the children playing in mud and freeze the moments which showcase their innocence as these subjects appease to every human. There are plethora of interesting subjects in a fair viz women in traditional dresses, shopkeepers and hawkers at their daily work. When people take break and stretch out to yawn ,don’t miss the opportunity to release your shutter. At this moment i would have shown you a photograph of my friend sleeping with his mouth open but thanks to another friend of mine she spoilt the shot 🙁 .
While shooting portraits use low f stop for shallow depth of field so the subject is separated from the background and so that eyes can comfortably concentrate on the main subject. Lookout for bright and contrasting colors. .Observe interesting forms and patterns that can be clicked taking a close shot . Look for symmetry and rhythm in places and objects . While focusing at near by objects use manual focus .Compostion and proper framing is the key to a good photograph . Often an unexciting inanimate object makes a great photograph due to effective composition .Make use of Composition rules but don’t follow them blindly . Break them at occasions to create your own masterpiece. Remember there are no rules in photography only guidelines. look for color combinations which contrast each other . To take blue toned images set white balance to tungsten . Dawn and dusk are best time to shoot blue .Green in combination with different shades of yellow blue and red is very soothing to eyes but if too many colours are there it can make snap look clumsy. Lighter shades of same colour can add depth to pics .
When on street you find enough subjects to make your eyes flashing around and don’t try to contain them. Explore every opportunity because however good photographer you are the luck factor is always there. But shooting blatantly will increase your post session workload and you might miss that wonderful snap which could add to your assorted collection. So put some thought behind photograph. Try to associate a story to each photograph cause world likes stories.
Great tips for street photography :
1: sometimes when people are not aware of the camera that makes for interesting capture .
2 learn to see patterns : look for a group of reoccurring elements ,like rows of chairs or the handlebars of bus .Once you figure out the pattern figure the best place to shoot from .Experiment using shallow depth of fields and interesting diagonals .
3 Children make great subjects. Capture the manner in which the child interacts with his immediate surroundings .
4 Have a sense of humour : wrongly spelt signboards , ubiquitous horn ok please ,graffiti etc
5 Shoot animals on the street . Get the story behind the picture … talk the to the person u clicked . 2 minutes of interaction makes the difference between an outsiders and insiders perspective…
6 Know your equipment .Master it that applies to all forms of photography . You cant miss on events ..
7 Use warmer tones use cloudy or shade settings ..
8 Don’t include too many things in the frame keep it clean …
9 Deviate from usual .Don,t just always click the obvious …
10 If people stare at u , wait .Let them get accustomed or bored of looking at you and capture the event in its usual skin without people being too conscious of the camera .
11 Don’t shoot more but think more…
12 Don’t dress up extravagantly .Be simple and try to camouflage in the crowd so that u don’t attract attention to the camera and make people conscious because then you will miss the natural expressions of the people.
13 Most importantly bind your thoughts to definitions and rules let your creativity explore all the bounds.
Personal advice : Never leave sadhus and weird looking people unclicked .While taking portraits you needn’t click them in the centre of the frame and include their whole body . Try to capture the expression in the photos Many great creation are born when the artist is grim and dejected and In photography many great shots are taken while showing the grief,poverty,dearth and negativities of life.
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