How to take pictures of strangers - Street photography

So what's it actually like to walk the streets and take pictures of strangers? Well there's no mystery or magic way to do Street photography, but there are many different techniques which will give different results.

Be sure to click and watch the video

The first thing to realise is it's not actually that easy, or it's not as easy as it sounds. Fear of it aside, trying to achieve what you've learnt about composition, finding the correct light, telling a story etc. etc, can be hard to achieve when in essence, the people you are photographing aren't there to be photographed.

Smoking Man

Shock, horror!! Of course... they are going shopping, meeting friends and doing all sorts of things apart from stopping, adopting the pose you'd really like, waiting for you to compose and checking your cameras on and ready...So how do we do it?

Well in the video above you'll see from my perspective, just how tricky it can be, and lots of the time you'll just miss the shot, or your composition will be off and the list goes on. The truth is more failures than successes, but there are different ways to give yourself a chance of getting a shot you like, and please GET A SHOT YOU LIKE. Do't worry about the likes you want on Facebook. Instagram or Twitter. Just do it for yourself, practice, let your skill grow and find your style. It takes time and not everyone will get it, but the pleasure should be all yours in the first instance.

So just a few different techniques...

1. The Walk. - Just how it sounds, you have your camera in hand, you walk, you look hard and then BLAM! You take a shot. The key to this is the looking of course, as well as the speed you can see the frame and how fast you can use your camera. The composition may not be perfect with this one but you'll get the energy, movement and give the feeling to the viewer that they're in the thick of the action.

Man in Bra

2. The Wait. - So there's a particular spot you like, and you wait for the subject to enter it. I think for those who maybe a little nervous at first this is a good start. It can allow you to practice your composition, it'll also allow you to find a vantage point where you can maybe feel a little less exposed, plus the longer you're there, the more you'll become part of the scene and understand just what you want your picture to be. The picture below is the same man you see lighting the cigarette above. I kept returning to that spot, outside an arcade for an interesting subject, he came, I took nearly 30 shots of him. These are the 2 I liked.

Smoking Man

That's just two techniques I, and you can use, then there's shooting from the hip, looking through the viewfinder, and the many ways we try to get the candid shot. Of course some will argue but there's also the posed street portrait, which is a great way to overcome the fear associated with street photography. I say some will argue because some would say only candid shots count, and in many ways I prefer this method, but don't let others tell you what you'd like to do, just be a photographer, only give yourself a label or attach a genre if you like.



The seaside

I'll leave my musings here for now, but watch the video and see if you can see ways to do it for yourself. It takes practice and in my own mind I'm still searching for that shot that pleases me. Don't be deterred, it's fun, rewarding, and in a hundred years someone may find all your pictures and say you're the most important social documentarian there's ever been! We can all look forward to that!

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