Friday, April 12, 2013

Tips From Ten–Street Photography

Street photography fascinates me, but maybe that’s because I’m an avid people watcher.  Staged portraits are beautiful and can be very powerful but capturing people being themselves when they think no one is watching provides a completely different perspective.
I asked ten of my favorite photographers from Instagram and EyeEm if they would share some of their tips for capturing these images.  Included are professionals and hobbyists, mobile photographers and traditional photographers (yes, I’m breaking my rule here about only including mobile photography on this blog!)
If you have any tips you’d like to add, please post them in the comments below the article.

Street Photography

Roger Yip
I am a commercial photographer based in Toronto, and have been since I completed my formal training in photography in 1991 at Ryerson University here in the city.  But my passion for photography started at age of 13, when I bought my first SLR.  I have always been interested in photographing people, not so much in formal portraits, but more candid portraits and human activities.  Not until I studied the history of photography at the university did I realize that what I had been doing was called street photography.  One particular photographer's work that I fell completely in love with was work of Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Though my commercial work occupies most of my time, my true passion in photography is shooting street photos.  I vacation a few times a year from commercial work to travel to other parts of the world to do street photography for myself.
Roger’s Tips
  • Be ready:  It doesn't matter what camera you use, learn what it can and can't do, learn its quirks.   A perfect moment waits for no one.  So preset your camera settings, or turn on your mobile phone and set it to camera mode.  Most mobile cameras have shuttle lag.  So you will need to factor that in when you shoot.   Street photography is about capturing people and events in real time.  You either got it or missed it. So be ready.
  • Story telling:  In my opinion, a photograph must tell a story.  As we say, "A picture is worth a thousand words".   So try to tell a story, any story, with your photographs.  Your photo must trigger an emotion in the viewer.  If it doesn't, then you haven't done it right.
  • Understand human behavior:  Watch people and see how they behave. You can predict their next move or reaction just by watching them.  And of course, have your camera ready.
  • Travel light:  I almost never shoot street photography with my SLR.   First of all they are too heavy to carry around.  Second, people get intimidated by large cameras.  I usually use a range finder camera with a fixed focal length lens (35mm or a 50mm), or I use my iPhone.  Act like a tourist.  I usually find people are not intimidated by tourists, but they are by professional photographers.
  • Get close to the people.  Get close into the scene.  But remember people need their space, so not too close.  Get close enough to capture the scene, to capture emotion or expression on people’s faces, but still leave enough room to show the environment.  This will help you tell the story better.  I generally don't ask for permission to photograph someone, because I am not too close to them, and they are not threatened by my presence.  I do ask when I want to take a close-up.  Most people don't mind if they aren’t threatened or intimidated by you.
Find Roger:  EyeEm / Website

© Roger Yip

© Roger Yip

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