20 Quick Street Photography Tips

Translations of this material:

into Russian: 20 небольших советов по фотосъемке на улице . Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by Ready 12.12.2008

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I was going through an old ‘Digital Photographer’ magazine this afternoon and came across a good Top 20 list of tips for those wanting to get into Street Photography.

Here’s their headings an a few thoughts on each one from me:

Less is More - don’t take too much equipment and travel light. It’ll make you less obtrusive and you will be able to move around for the best shot quickly.

Off the Beaten Track - don’t just go to all the touristy shots - try to get ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘real life’ scenes.
Stolen Moments - anticipate moments between people before they happen.

True Colours - black and white is often where it’s at with street photography but at times colourful situations arise and can really make a shot - be on the look out for these.

In the Background - what’s goign on behind your subject can actually ‘make’ the shot. Billboards, signs, graffiti and other visual elements can really make a statement in a shot.

Dare to Go Diagonal - don’t just hold your camera horizontally - experiment with angles. Street photography is a less formal medium - make the most of it.

Opposites Attract - shots which challenge the ‘norm’ in terms of composition and story/subject matter can be powerful. Look out for ’surprising’ subject matter and composition.

What a Performance - street performers, parades and other street entertainment can be great subject matter on the street.

Off the Streets - other places where people gather in number can lead to great shots in this genre - zoos, fairs, shows, parks, sporting events etc all can be worth trying.

New Angle - find ways to get up high or down low - these new perspectives on subjects that are familiar can lead to eye catching shots.

Practice makes Perfect - over time and with practice your photography will improve. You’ll not only get better at technique but also spotting the things to focus upon on the street.

Fortune Favors the Brave - sometimes the best thing you can do is to get close to your subject - this can be a little confronting but will produce powerful images.

Fun in the Sun - often we try to avoid shooting into the sun and the shadows that direct sunlight can produce - in street photography breaking these ‘rules’ can lead to great shots.

Ready to Pounce - have your camera out and ready to shoot at all times. Things can move quickly on the street so if you’re not ready you’ll miss lots of opportunities.

Revise the Revisit - street photography is not all about spontaneity - if you see a scene with potential don’t be afraid to keep coming back to it until you get the shot.

Frozen Motion - the street is a place of movement - to capture it and still get sharp shots make sure your shutter speed is fast enough. 1/125 or more with an ISO of 400 is what this article recommended as a base. I also think it can be fun to experiment with slower shutter speeds on the street - capture the movement as blur.

Street Wallpaper - blend in with the scene - shoot unobtrusively and unnoticed.

Life Through a Lens - ‘exaggerating perspective will help set your subject in context and provide a more forgiving depth of field’ - use a wide angle lens (or even a fisheye).

Expect the Expected - people can be suspicious of street photographers so shoot in places where people expect to see people doing photography. Smile, be polite and be willing to delete images if people protest.

Location, Location, Location - really this is what it is all about. Choose places where people interact with one another and times when they are present.

What would you add (or subtract) from this list of Street Photography Tips?