7 tips for the aspiring street photographer
Jumping into street photography is no easy task for any photographer. There are so many moving parts around you — people, lights, cars, and more — that make street photography intimidating. It’s difficult at first, but the rush you feel from getting that one spectacular frame makes it all worth it — and you’ll want to keep coming back for more.
Street photography is about documenting everyday life, and everywhere you look has the potential to make for a great photo. With your camera, you can capture great emotion and a person’s personality without them even realizing it — turning their day into a piece of history.
Below are some tips on getting started in street photography and how to make it worth your while.
Deciding what lens to use is the first step in successful street photography. You want to stray away from using a zoom lens — you really don’t want to become known as the creepy person with a giant lens taking sneaky photos. Instead, use a wide-angle lens for the best shot. A lot of street photographers use cameras less compact than DSLR cameras because they’re lightweight, easier to carry, and more discreet.
Keeping a camera with you keeps you prepared for any moment. Carrying a camera at all times might be annoying — especially if you’re using a DSLR — but wanna know what’s worse? Missing that perfect shot. You never know when a perfect opportunity is going to happen, so it’s always best to be prepared.
A wide-angle lens will let you get close to your subjects, resulting in a better shot. This type of lens gives the viewer a sense of being there, making your photo that much more impactful. Keep your eyes observant for things happening right around you.
What camera settings are best for street photography? The quickest way to have your camera ready for street photography is to switch it to AV (aperture-priority mode) and then selecting your aperture (f-stop) and ISO manually. Start around f/8 with an ISO between 800 and 1600 during the day, and 3200 at night. In aperture priority mode, your camera will automatically choose your shutter speed.
Although street photography is meant to be candid, there are times when you should definitely ask for permission. Feel free to ask people if you can take a portrait of them, and definitely make sure to ask parents or guardians before taking photos of kids. If it’s obvious you’re taking a photo of someone (ie, you’re standing in front of them and no one is around) don’t make it awkward — just explain what you’re doing and ask them if you can continue shooting!
The point of street photography is to tell a story filled with emotion and humanity. What story are you trying to tell? What kind of emotion are you trying to convey, and what are you doing to convey that emotion? Take note of your backgrounds, your subjects, and more and ask yourself, “Will this photo captivate a viewer? Does it evoke the emotion I’m aiming for? What can I change to make it better?”
Asking yourself these questions will help you reposition another shot better and give you a better direction of what you’re trying to accomplish.
The best tip I have for you is to just get out there! Don’t let fear or intimidation stop you from trying street photography. Go take a walk, and bring your camera with you — trust me, you won’t regret it. Stop reading these tips and get out there!