So you want to get started with street photography huh? It seems to be quite popular lately. It is a quite exciting type of photography, as you can go around in public and take pictures of (gasp) strangers! It is also pretty awesome because you don’t need a Canon 1D Mark III with expensive L lenses to get good images. Hell—you can use any camera, your point-and-shoot, your DSLR, your film camera, or dare I say… iPhone?
Anyways, getting started with street photography is pretty damn easy. It literally involves grabbing whatever camera you have and heading toward any place with people. The less you are prepared with street photography, the better. You want to let your curiosity lead you wherever the streets may take you, and feel free to take images of whatever interests you.
So what do I take photos of?
Simple. Take photos of people. If you live in the smog-infested city of Los Angeles, consider yourself lucky. Head to any busy street or area, and look for interesting looking people to shoot.
Try to refrain yourself from shooting just bums or street musicians. Photographs of those individuals (although they can be done tastefully), are typically just images of “exploitation”—in which people assume that taking photos of these individuals make themselves “artsy.”
Anyways I am rambling a bit too much—let’s get back to the subject at hand. Look for interesting looking people doing interesting things. If you see a lady with a crazy old hat, take a photo of that woman.
If you see a dude doing a backflip in the middle of the street—you better capture that moment. See a moment that just makes you go “awww” like a couple kissing? Get close and take a photo of that.
But I’m scared of taking photos of strangers in the streets! How can I overcome this?
Nobody said street photography was going to be easy. Frankly speaking, I would say the most difficult part of street photography is getting over the fear of shooting in the streets and feeling “awkward” in public. But remember, taking photos of people in public areas is completely legal and from my experience, people RARELY approach you regarding you taking a photo of them. I have taken photos in the street for about four years now, and I have literally only had one person approach me and ask me not to take a photo of them.
I will suggest you a few and fun social experiments to get over your fear of shooting in the streets.
[quote] Experiment #1: When sitting on the subway or on the bus, make eye contact with the person in front of you and if they look back, DO NOT TURN AWAY! Stare at them back (not aggressively…but just make conscious eye contact) until they turn away. [/quote]
If they stare back and look mean, give them a big smile (you would be surprised—99% of people smile back).
[quote]Experiment #2: Talk to random strangers in public. See a guy waiting in line at Starbucks? Strike up a conversation with him and ask him how his day is going. Stuck in an elevator and feeling awkward next to somebody else? Introduce yourself and chat it up with that person. I guarantee that these two experiments will help you overcome your fear of shooting in public.[/quote]
Above all, the most important thing is actually going out and shooting people. The more you do it, the less afraid and more comfortable you will be. Do you have any more tips about shooting in public?
Hells yeah I do. Another technique you can try is “Shooting from the Hip.” This entails you holding your camera at waist-level, and aiming up. This is great because you can get candid images of people and you will feel less awkward shooting people in public.
However, make sure you do this with a wide-angle lens (17mm on crop-body and 24mm on full-frame), or else most likely you will have a difficult time actually correctly framing your subjects. When shooting from the hip, don’t walk around looking at your camera, but rather look blankly ahead. People will have no idea what you are doing.
Another tip I love to do is to “Pretend like you are taking a photo of something else.” This means that you have a wide angle lens and get REALLY close to a person (I’m talking to the point that you can smell them). But then after taking your photo, look at something in the distance or behind the person, and walk away.
Most people assume you just took a photo of something behind them, as most people turn around and look at what I’m taking a photo of after doing this technique.
Eric, don’t go yet! I want to learn more about Street Photography 101!
Well you’re in luck. Go to my blog and check out a ton of my articles that I write about street photography. In-fact, I am currently compiling a book on “Street Photography 101”, which will teach you everything you need to know about shooting in the streets absolutely for FREE (in a downloadable PDF). I love street photography, and want to spread my love of it with the world.
[quote]Eric Kim is a street photographer currently residing in Los Angeles. Eric specializes in black and white street photography, and has taken photos from all over the globe, including places such as Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Prague, London, and Korea.