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Street photography

What is street photography? - An introductory guide and instructions for beginners who wants to learn Photography.

Street photography at its core means a candid photograph of people and humanity. A street photograph has to be a real and purposeless moment. However, the term itself is inherently unclear and clumsy. For example, a person does not have to appear in a photo to be considered a street photograph.

Trying to define street photography is almost like trying to define what is sweet or salty. You can't describe it fully, but you recognize it when you see it.

Street photographers are observers, flâneurs by nature. It is a way to connect with the world and bring back the moments that stand out. It can be compared to a visual form of poetry - while beauty and form are important aspects of street photography, great street photography often has something under the surface. There are clues, feelings, ideas, stories, or questions. These photos are intended to incite the viewer. It can be argued whether street photography represents reality or not, but I would say that it represents the reality of the photographer.

An effective way to understand street photography is to look at the work of the great street photographers, see how it varies for each of them, and try to understand what they were trying to portray. The end of this article has a list of street photographers and books to get you started.

The next step is to do it yourself. At first you will feel awkward and slow as you get used to doing it, some of your takes will be technically bad, uninteresting, or cliche (and there is nothing wrong with cliche), but over time your voice will start to develop and your Photographs will become more cohesive and unique to you, and that is where they will start to stand out.

Always check local laws regarding street photography as I am not a lawyer. However, street photography is legal in the United States as long as you use the images for artistic purposes. You can sell hard copies of them, use them in articles online, and display them in books as you would a work of art, but you cannot use them for commercial or advertising purposes.

Many countries have laws similar to the US, but in some, it is illegal to take pictures of the street without the permission of the person you are photographing, making it difficult if you are trying to capture a candid photograph. Some photographers get deceptive by making sure their street shots only feature unrecognizable people, while others ignore these laws and continue as normal. Be sure to do your own research before deciding what to do.

The ethics of street photography is another story. Is it ethical to photograph strangers in public without their permission? That depends on how you feel. I think these images are important for cultural, artistic and historical purposes, and I think I am a good person who does good things, but from time to time I still feel creepy taking photos of people in public. It may be creepy, but it is what it is, and to me, it's worth it.

Some photographers will not photograph children or the homeless, while other photographers do an amazing and very compassionate job with children and the homeless. The point is to find out what you are comfortable with and stick with it. Don't let anyone else tell you what is ethically right or wrong.

Now that we have eliminated definition and ethics, it is time to learn how to do street photography. Street photography may seem simple, but it is difficult to get right.

The first step is to overcome fear, improve hand-eye coordination, and get general advice both technically and in the way you behave. The next step is to discover what makes a photograph interesting and to develop your voice. But the most important aspect through all of this is to have fun and try to practice frequently, even if it's in short periods or with a camera phone, this is what will take you to the next level.

Photography Tips: We are always drawn towards the eyes in a photograph, since eyes are a natural focal point that we connect with and background of any portrait are very vital for any photography.

When taking portrait photographs at any aperture, make sure you nail the focus on the eyes. As long as the eyes are in focus, both you and your subject are more likely to consider the picture to be properly shot. whitewall photo

Here are seven tips to help you with your landscape photography.

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What if they catch you? How to overcome your fear of street photography

Fear is for many the hardest aspect of street photography. How can you get close enough to strangers to get a good picture without getting into trouble? The first thing to consider is where you are. Obviously, some places like New York will be much easier to do than others, but that shouldn't stop you.

Before you begin, think about what you will say if someone catches you. When I get caught, I smile, tell the person yes, I took a picture of them, that I'm doing a project on the streets and in the people of New York, and I thought they looked fabulous. Flattery is key. Offer to email them the photo, and if they're still uncomfortable, offer to delete it. If handled this way, it will be much easier and sometimes enjoyable when caught.

The next step is to go somewhere busy. Not only should you photograph in crowded places, but when you are learning this can be very important. Go to a busy corner, a fair or an event where a lot of interesting things happen and you will see that you and your camera will be a perfect match. When there are many people with cameras around and everyone is happy and busy, you will find that people will hardly notice. This is an environment that will allow you to feel comfortable with your camera so that you can learn to take good pictures.

Similarly, sometimes you will want to choose a location and let your subjects come closer to you. Find a place where lots of things happen and spend your energy observing your surroundings instead of walking. Hold the camera up and ready to shoot, and watch people as they approach you. In this way, they will enter your personal space instead of you entering their space, and they will not notice you as much. You will also react faster, as you are in the right place and will be watching your surroundings closely.

A quick note: it is common for people to start shooting mostly from the hip, that is, photographing without putting the camera to the eye so that it is much less noticeable. This is a practice that many photographers do, including myself sometimes. Sometimes it is necessary, but it can also be a crutch. Learn to shoot by putting the camera to your eye first. Shoot from the hip when necessary, but bring the camera to the eye as often as you can.
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Performance in street photography Some of the best street photographers are also the best actors when shooting. They have a way of looking like tourists or that they have no idea how to use their camera. The confused, in-your-own world, or dense looks that I have seen on the faces of some photographers have been hilarious. A photographer I know will even go up and take a picture of someone, and then when he looks up, he will say, “Oh, I was just testing my camera. I'm sorry about that!"

Usually it will be more subtle than that, but it will help to act lightly so that the moments are as candid as possible and you won't have to deal with everyone stopping to ask if you took their photo. I would get nowhere if that was the case. Also, try to avoid making eye contact with people, as you have an evolutionary way of getting their attention. Always look to the sides, up or through them.

The camera snapshot is a fantastic technique to use. Your natural instinct will be to remove the camera from your eye as soon as you take a picture. Almost everyone does this, and this is how people know that their photo has been taken. Instead, capture the photo and hold the camera to your eye as the person leaves your scene. This will make them think that you are only photographing the background and that they got in your way. Similarly, you can point your camera up or to the side of a person as if you were photographing the background and then at the last second, point the camera at that person, take the photo, and move on.

This may seem like such simple advice, but it is not. So many photographers I've taught seem to be glued to their camera all the time, and that can prevent you from being aware of your surroundings. When done right, it almost feels like the camera isn't even there. To find a great moment, you actually have to see it with your eyes before you go to take a photo, so accept this. Focus your energy on looking around you and try to be as aware of your surroundings as possible.

Getting closer

Get up close in street photography This is not meant to be a blanket statement, but a common problem is that photographers don't get close enough. Fill the frame with your scene and get close enough to your subjects to be able to notice the small details. But also keep in mind that you can get too close.

Some photographers take this advice too seriously, and each photograph is a close-up face or detail without any context or background. Use a bit of balance, but remember that being part of the action instead of stalking away will improve the quality of your photos.

Be spontaneous

Moments in street photography happen very quickly. So many photos will appear and disappear even before you bring the camera close to your eye. This makes it vital to follow your instincts. If you feel the potential of a photograph, take it. This will often result in a terrible photo, but when you get a successful one, it will be much more interesting. Free yourself and accept your instincts.

Emotion and gesture

Give me a picture of a normal looking person with a powerful expression any day about the most interesting dressed person with a dull expression. As photographers, we look for ideas and emotions in our images, and a primary way to do this is to capture those emotions on people's faces, the look in their eyes, or the gestures on their bodies. When you are able to connect with a person and get a glimpse of what they might be feeling, a powerful foundation will be laid for your photography. Learn to read people through their expressions and gestures.

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Shoot in a variety of places (including where you live).

Photograph in busy and quiet areas as you learn and capture the areas around where you live or work. The more familiar you are with a place and the more time you spend there, the more intimate the photos will be. Get familiar with certain areas and keep coming back. You don't have to go to a different place each time to get a great photo.

You can get great photography anywhere and you should practice in places that you might find normally boring or uninteresting. The term boring is quite interesting. Why do you think the area is boring or will not be a good place for photography? Go to a parking lot, a suburb, or a quiet street and see what you can do there. Some of the most incredible street photographs have been taken in these environments.

Cameras and street photography equipment

Interested in a camera for street photography? Check out this article: Best Digital Cameras for Street Photography.

It is often said that you can take street photography with any camera, and while this is true, some cameras will give you a significant advantage. SLRs are fast but they can be very large and it is difficult to be quick and spontaneous with one. If you must use an SLR (and I've used one for over 10 years for street photography, so don't feel bad), grab a lightweight prime such as a 35mm or 50mm (the two most popular lenses used by street photographers).

Prime lenses will brighten your camera and make it much less noticeable. Also, getting used to a single focal length will have a profound effect on your photography. You have to put aside the fact that you will miss some shots because you don't have a zoom lens. That will happen, but you will make up for it by getting used to both the prime lens and focal length and so fast with it, that you will be able to capture more spontaneous images. This will help you focus and be more consistent.

I highly recommend mirrorless cameras or even micro 4/3 cameras. My recommended brand is Fuji and the X100 line or the X-T line. Fuji has the quality and design factor that no other camera apart from Leica has at the moment, and they cost about a fifth of the price. Olympus, Ricoh, and Sony are also good smaller format cameras, but keep in mind that some of the Sony lenses are so large that they will make the mirrorless camera feel like an SLR. Many people even take street photography with a camera phone. Camera phones have come a long way and you can do a great job with one. If you can't take your camera with you, feel free to take a break to take pictures with your phone.

Camera settings

Now comes the fun part. You need to know your camera settings well, and I suggest shooting in Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or Manual mode. Unless you are very good, Manual can be difficult in many lighting situations, especially on sunny days when you will shoot in sunlight one second and in the shade another.

I prefer to use a shutter speed of 1/250 or faster. This number will ensure that your subjects' movement freezes. It can stop down to 1/160, 1/125, or even 1/60 at night or with people not moving, but there is a higher chance of motion blur if they are.

This is a personal preference, but I also like to shoot with the smallest aperture possible. Yes, the bokeh can be beautiful, but with a small aperture (large depth of field) it gives me a better chance of getting my subjects sharp. If you lose focus with a large depth of field, the shot will most likely be saved. Also, a large depth of field helps when you have multiple subjects at different depths or a large background that you want to be relatively sharp as well. Context is very important in street photography, so I like my backgrounds to be relatively sharp.

When shooting with a fast shutter speed and a small aperture, not much light will enter the sensor, so unless you are in bright sunlight, something has to give, and that's the ISO. Newer cameras create great photos at higher ISO values, so don't be afraid to increase it. There will be more grain, but your shots will be sharper and of higher quality which will more than make up for this. And that grain can be beautiful! I like to shoot at ISO 400 in sunlight, 800-1600 in the shade, and 3200-6400 at dusk and at night. I don't recommend using auto-ISO unless you are in Manual mode. You only want the camera to choose one of the three settings.

At night, indoors, or in very dark situations, I often shoot in Shutter Priority mode to ensure that I have a shutter speed fast enough to freeze motion. During the day, I will normally shoot in Aperture Priority. I usually only shoot in Manual at night or if the light is very uniform. However, you can use any of these modes to the same effect if you are familiar with them.

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Advanced tips

While the previous photo examples had more differences between them, keep in mind that future examples will be much more consistent in content and appearance. They are based on a project that I have been working on for the last seven years called Luxe City. Consistency is an important aspect to consider when moving forward, which is why I wanted the photos to show it.

Here are some more advanced concepts and street photography tips to consider in the future. You can take advantage of some of these right away, while others will need more time to become familiar with them.


Street photographs are real, unplanned moments, and they should feel real and unplanned. This gives us a lot of room for maneuver technically, and a lack of perfection can even improve a photograph. Garry Winograd, for example, was known for skewing his horizons in ways that landscape photographers wouldn't, and this was important to the feel of his work.

Often times, these blemishes will not only be tolerated, but will be encouraged. This is why grain works very well in street photography. So the next time you see an item that you messed up in the image, consider the fact that it might improve the photo.

Besides the potential benefit of blemishes, the way we handle light and composition in street photography is very similar to most other forms of photography, so I'll keep this section short. When you leave the house and before looking at the camera, light is always the first factor to consider, so make sure you have the light at the top of your mind.

Where are the light sources in relation to the direction you are photographing and how are they affecting your shot? Is there direct light, hazy backlight, artificial light, reflected light, or are there spotlights shining? Are there beautiful shadows? How does the light affect the main subject and the background? You can do very interesting things with light once you learn to notice it.

Since street photographs appear so fast, composition is often done spontaneously and instinctively, so this is where practice comes in. As we just mentioned with blemishes, you can get away with a lot more than you can in traditional landscape photography. Skewed horizons or strange compositions can make photography feel real and can be very useful, but it depends on the photography. Think of the composition as you would for a stunning landscape, but instead of a rock there is a fire hydrant, instead of a stream there is some spilled coffee, or instead of a mountain there is a ladder. Use these everyday items in the same way.

Great compositional photographers have a way of directing people's eyes around an image and use these everyday elements to do so. Every aspect of your photography is important, including what you put in the corners. Viewers' eyes will naturally drift away from your photo, and their corners will prevent their eyes from leaving the image. This will make you feel more balanced.

Also, try not to focus too much on your main topic. If you see a great element for a photograph, always look around you to see if it can be combined with other interesting elements to create a more complex scene.

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