Street Photography is an amazing way to hone your skills as a photographer, chronicle everyday life in an artistic way, show the wonders of a new place you’ve travelled to and a great excuse to get out and move around, being a part of the pictures you’re making.
Essentially, shooting streets is the polar opposite of studio work, where scenes are carefully constructed and often dictated by a client. Instead, street photography is a genre where you can fully impose your vision on the chaos of the world around you.
There are literally hundreds of tips I could write for making better “street photos” but I’ve decided to pen five approaches that if you keep in mind will elevate your work to attention grabbing and award winning street photography.
Traveling light not only means keeping the tripod, speed lights and all your extra lenses at home, it means lose the backpack, dress appropriately for the weather and most importantly, pick the lens most suited for the environment you will be shooting in.
A lot of photographers insist that shooting a prime lens (a lens with a fixed focal length) is the only way to go. The prime lens recommendation seems to stem from two thoughts. The first that generally you can get a faster lens (one with a large aperture, which will allow you to shoot in lower light) for less money than you can when purchasing a zoom. The second being it forces you to physically change your location to compose an image.
While I absolutely love shooting with my Canon RF 85mm 1.2, it can limit the photos I am able to make. My next street lens of choice is the RF 15-35mm 2.8. This is a fast enough aperture to capture imagery in all but the darkest lighting scenarios and gives a nice range of focal lengths to photograph a variety of situations.
While some street photography is finding the story in the randomness of an environment, the best pictures are often made by finding stellar locations.
Look for the interplay of shadow and light in spaces. Search out architecture that shows off the place where you are, either by being an example of traditional buildings for the region, or by being a singularly unique building that can only be found there.
Other locations which can be fantastic for street photography can be the juxtaposition of nature and man-made structures. Yet more could simply be colors, patterns, or interesting terrain.
Finding a location that tells the story of the country, city, or region you are photographing can make the difference between a picture that could be anywhere and a photo that speaks to the time and place it was taken in. This tip goes hand in hand with the next.
Wait for the Moment
Once you have found your location, think about what the perfect interaction between a person, vehicle, shadow, or animal and your location would be and be patient.
Plan for it. Wait for it to occur and finally capture that moment. Some of the most striking photographs are the ones where there is an interplay between a static space and a kinetic subject. Sometimes that interplay can be a step, sometimes it can be a group, sometimes it could be a bird in flight or a train on the track.
By waiting for the moment and capturing it just perfectly as you envisioned, the photo made is elevated from a “snapshot” to a proper picture.
Think Outside the Box (Be Bold)
Another technique to use is to get out of your comfort zone by being bold.
If you are too shy to interact with people on the street you may miss out on great opportunities to make brilliant street portraits. If you limit yourself by only looking at things straight on you may risk missing out on interesting compositions. Look for reflections in puddles, in windows or car mirrors. Look through things to use them as “frames” for your picture. Climb on things, get low and lay down to gain a new perspective.
Often you can make a photo more interesting by not capturing it at eye level. Use the elements of your location in interesting ways to have the most impact visually.
Shoot All Day & Any Weather
The same location can dramatically change throughout the day as the sun moves through the sky. Maybe it is brilliant in the morning but subpar in the afternoon. Maybe it looks dull during the day but comes alive in the evening when the sun goes down.
Observing these differences and shooting pictures at different times of the day when the light is most interesting can make the difference between a picture that is just okay and a picture that it visually stunning. The same goes for weather.
Don’t be afraid to get a little cold, go out in the snow, do not be afraid to get a little wet, shoot pictures in the rain. Not only does weather add to the feel of the image by showing the temperature and adding texture, but it can also help with showing interesting body language of people as they rush through a downpour or supply puddles for reflections.
Weather can also give photos a multitude of other feelings. Maybe it’s a lone person in a snowstorm, or a group of sweltering people in the dead of summer, perhaps it’s a sidewalk teeming with people rushing through the rain. Varying weather provides yet another interesting visual effect.
Create Wonderful Street Photography with Your Camera
These creative tips are just a few of the things to keep in mind while you’re out in the streets making pictures. By utilizing these concepts, you not only keep photography interesting, but it will also help elevate your pictures, challenge you to think outside the box and revitalize your passion for making pictures in camera.
Where to Show Your Artwork and Allow People to Buy Prints
After you’ve shot some amazing street photos it is vital to showcase your work properly, whether on your website or social media pages. In order to have photographs that are as unique and creative as you are, make sure you publish your prints for sale on a well-curated online store that specializes in limited edition fine art prints. This way, you can be sure your images are well received from art lovers worldwide.
With Inputs from Shea Winter Roggio
American artist Shea Winter Roggio is a documentary and fine art photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as the CEO of Winter Museo, an online destination offering everything art, from posters illustrations, gifts, souvenirs and stationery to limited edition fine art prints, hand signed by the artists.