How to avoid ‘pedestrian’ street photography
Words: By Richard I’Anson
In many countries life is lived on the street. Meals are cooked and eaten; clothes, bodies and teeth are washed; games are played and business is transacted; all in full view of the passing public.
As with all people photography you’ll have to develop your own approach to taking pictures of people on the street, but you will require a quick eye and shutter finger, as the aim is to capture fleeting moments that you often can’t anticipate.
Street photography is one of the cornerstones of traditional photographic genres, where the everyday and happenstance take centre stage as subject matter over the more sensational public events like annual festivals and familiar iconic structures. Walking the streets looking to capture unique moments is a fun, interesting and challenging goal to set yourself, and the shots make a nice counterpoint to the more exotic imagery typical of travel photography.
Although the magic of the moment should take precedent over technical perfection, you can influence the outcome by finding an interesting location where there is a fair bit of activity and good light and then wait for things to happen around you. Good places to get started are the obvious centres of human activity, such as city squares, marketplaces, restaurant precincts, shopping centres, places of worship and transport hubs. However, for a general introduction to daily life no matter where you are, set off in any direction and you’ll witness people from all walks of life going about their daily activities. Look to photograph them up close, at work, individually and in groups, posed and unposed. Each picture will add more depth to the impression of the destination you’re able to communicate through your photographs.
Tips: Set you camera so you’re ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. Keep the aperture on middle ground, such as 4.0-6.3. Don’t be afraid to push the ISO up a little higher to keep your images sharp (400+).
Light: To get high-contrast shots such as those from Merten Snijders, search for the light in places that are otherwise dark and wait for someone to walk into your frame.
Good street photography camera: Fuji X100. For street cred and subtlety, and for its ability to shoot high-res images in low-light at high ISOs.
Read: Magnum Stories, by Chris Boot.
Get the definitive guide to travel photography, by Richard I’Anson.
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The importance of capturing your subjects in the correct light
How to make the most of your festival photos
- additional words by Kylie McLaughlin (@KayMc_Laffers)