We love the documentary aspect of street photography. Here, nothing is set up and you’re capturing a slice of life just as it happens. Part-journalism-part-art, street photography can result in powerful shots that you couldn’t set up if you tried. But what makes a good street photograph? And how does that differ from a street portrait?
In this episode, Gina and Valerie discuss the elements that make up great street photography, techniques you can use to achieve those stunning frozen moments, and the little hacks that will ensure your street photos are authentic and awesome.
Shoutouts to our MacGyver of the week
Lucho Cairo Calderon (Peru)
Lucho Macgyvered softboxes from airsick bags and the results are amazing!
Place a white bag over speed lights
Airsick bags are great or any white shopping bag will work
The larger the bag the softer the light
Shoutouts from #ginachallenge #backlighting
There were so many wonderful pics from #ginachallenge #backlighting. Here are just some of them.
“It’s a 32 image (2 rows) panorama using a canon 6d + 15-30mm F2.8 lens @ 15mm ISO 6400 F2.8 30s. I’m using a ball head setup for a nodal point (the foreground is quite close – so to avoid parallax issues). The light comes from 2 sources – it’s a crescent moon on the tip of the pinnacle that creates the light for the back lit situation and causing the long shadows. The light reaching up to the milky way is called the zodiacal light – happens in spring and autumn before dawn and after sunset – this is the sunlight reflecting off dust in the inner solar system. I plan quite heavily for these images – back lit milky way situations take a lot of planning ahead. It’s post processed using PTGui Pro (for the panorama), light room and photoshop”
What is “street photography” and how does it differ from other styles of photography?
- Street photography is taking unposed images images of people in public places going about their daily lives
- It’s making something ordinary and everyday look interesting
- It’s not really about the people, but freezing a moment in time
- Street photos are generally upbeat and positive. A celebration of a moment in time that is fleeting.
- Street portraits are posed and the subject is aware of the camera and gives permission to be photographed
- Travel photography is trying to sell a particular destination. Street photography does not have an agenda.
- Documentary photographers are trying to sell a story with their images. Street photography is about recording a moment.
Street Photographers worth checking out
- The 20 most influential street photographers according to the streethunters.net readers
- FloFox New York street photographer from the 70’s who is now legally blind but continues to shoot with assistants and is a member of the Facebook group
- Vivian Maier
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
- “Bill” Cunningham (born March 13, 1929) is an American fashion photographer for The New York Times, known for his candid and street photography.
What’s the best gear for street photography
- Small light cameras
- Fast wide lenses 50 and under rather than zoom
- Higher aperture f5.6 or higher sharper images with more detail
- Phone cameras
- Mirrorless cameras
- No tripod
- Tape up logos
- No flash
- Small bag for all your bits
What are the best ways to capture great street photography
Street photography is all about noticing the little details, being in the right place at the right time, and recording the moment with your personal spin on it. How the image is framed, exposed and post produced will have a huge impact on the overall finished image.
- Tell a story in a single frame, capture an emotion, mood or vibe.
- 10 different photographers could walk past the same scene and get 10 completely different results
- My favourite time to shoot is very early in the morning and early evening
- Windy days add another interesting dimension to street photography
- Rain, snow, reflections are good too
- Expose for blacks and get a brightly lit scene
- Exposing for highlights and get a silhouette
- Freeze motion using a fast shutter speed
- Shot slow and capture movement
- Camera angle can be bird’s eye view (shoot over people)
- Worm’s eye view (camera is on the ground)
- Up close and personal (Joi’s spyshots)
- Shoot from the hip
- Pre focus your camera a few feet in front of you and then set it to manual focus
- Shoot wide
- Fast shutter speed 1/250th sec or higher, crank up the ISO
Here is Valerie’s photo of Gina shooting from the hip
Walk into a scene and just shoot shoot shoot
The wait and see
Find a really cool background like a mural, frame it up and wait for interesting people to walk through.
The sneaky shooter
Like the name suggests, no one knows you’re shooting
The brazen shooter
Just shoot what you see.
What are the best locations for street photography
- Billboards and street art
- Shop windows
- Street corners
- The beach
Being respectful: let your conscience be your guide
Ask yourself: Is this a positive/uplifting image?
People in distress or embarrassing situations, don’t do it.
The law and street photography
Laws will vary from country to country
We’re not lawyers so you need to check the laws in your country.
Don’t be afraid to get in close when taking street photography. I took this shot in Hyde Park, Sydney.
Shooting in the rain adds another interesting dimension to street photography and you don’t always need to see faces to tell a story. This is one of my shots from Madrid, Spain.
Shop fronts make a great background you just need to wait for the right character to walk into your frame. I took this in Milan, Italy.
Long narrow alleyways are perfect locations for street photography. Here’s my shot from Marrakesh, Morocco.
Look for the unexpected. I loved getting this shot of the flying nuns in Rome, Italy.
Street art and billboards make great backgrounds for street photography. Frame up the shot and then wait for someone interesting to walk through the shot. This is when I was in the meatpacking district, New York.
I get my best shots very early in the morning. Taormina, Sicily