This week I want to talk about a subject that probably makes many of you nervous, Street Photography. Many new photographers cringe at the thought of shooting street, but if you are a photography student, then I am sure you have had a professor or three tell you that you need to learn to start shooting outside your comfort zone. I shot this one of a student taking a nap on the steps at Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta.
Street Photography doesn’t have to be scary and there are some tips I am going to share with you this week to hopefully make you more successful at it. The key to doing Street Photography is being discreet. You don’t want to be out there with your biggest telephoto lens, trying to avoid human contact because you will make your subjects nervous. Take your camera body and a prime lens like a 35mm or 50mm, these lenses will require you to get more up close and personal, but that is the whole idea. Don’t take a flash with you or anything else that will be intrusive or invasive to your subjects, for Street Photography you want to be a minimalist. This next image of a woman testing on her phone I shot while at the bus stop in Atlanta.
Mirrorless is a good camera to use for Street Photography as most of these models are extremely small and light weight, yet make amazing images. Get up close to your subjects and interact with them, talk to them, get a little bit of their story, build some rapport and you will find that Street Photography is not so hard to pull off.
If you are someone like myself who is fairly sociable to begin with and can build an instant rapport with people, then Street Photography will be easier for you. If you don’t have this natural knack, then take it slowly and don’t try to force the issue with your subject. Be respectful of them and their personal space, you don’t want to drastically interfere with their routine or whatever they are doing, but you do need to interact with them enough to make this process easier. Talk to them about the weather, the local sports team, how terrible the traffic is (especially if you live in Atlanta), or anything else that strikes your fancy. Stay away from HOT topics like politics or religion, I don’t want you getting into a hostile debate or getting attacked by some nut.
As you get more and more experienced at shooting Street Photography and become more comfortable, you may find that you really enjoy shooting it. I know I did during the last two years I worked in downtown Atlanta. Also when you become more confident, some people will actually approach you and ask to be shot as part of whatever you are shooting for, I have had this happen numerous times and it can be a lot of fun! In this third image Rodney here is one of the many people that have stopped me and asked to pose for a street portrait.
The important things I want you take away from this week’s blog post is that Street Photography doesn’t need to be scary. If you keep your gear to the bare minimum and take the time to talk to your subjects you will find that this style of photography is not nearly as frightening as you originally thought.