Street photography has more to do with a lifestyle rather than a profession, and it has long existed since the invention of the first reliable photographic cameras. Curiously enough, it’s really hard to make a living out of just making street photos, yet the discipline has given us some of the most compelling pictures of our human history.
It is important for you to know that there isn’t an exact definition of what street photography is or isn’t. And to know what being street photography really means is even less clear. Therefore, finding it out is an inner seeking exercise that must be performed by every individual that starts developing the street photography passion.
What Street Photography Means to Us
Said that we could start sharing with you what street photography means to us, and most importantly, how could you start doing some street photographs on your own after reading this brief yet well-intended guide.
Street photography has a lot to do with one’s experience with the world, especially when it comes to getting close to society in the public stage or sphere.
And since it can involve virtually anything surrounding us (depending on each individual point of view), it’s quite hard to decode which are the steps for developing a street photography lifestyle.
Based on that, the first and only thing that you need to do is to get out there and see the world unraveling itself. Walk and blend in with society; eventually, you’ll start looking at things in a way that will push you into recording something, even if it is just to remember.
Hope This Helps You Out
This is a very personal approach to street photography, and I hope that it could help you out into giving the definitive start kick needed for developing it as a lifestyle. At first, the genre (honestly, I wasn’t even aware that it had a name) came to my life as a liberation experience that derived me from academic and professional existential crises.
It gave me the opportunity of filling the creative void that was there in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy with my both early-academic and early-professional decisions (which had nothing to do with photography), but there was something missing.
Generous Companion on Streets
Street photography has always been that generous companion that has been able to cope with my life, no matter what. The great secret about it? It only has to meet my needs and not third-party’s expectations. I’ve met notoriously awesome clients in the past, and I have done some commercial work too, but there is something nicely emancipator about simply taking photos of things that are meaningful to me.
Street imagery is like keeping a personal diary of things that had visually moved me at some point in my life, and personal diaries aren’t meant to be shared with the vast majority of people out there.
Let’s place ourselves in the contemporary context of social media and viral content for a moment. If you want to start doing street photography in a seriously committed way, that thing about personal stuff is a fundamental thing that you’ll have to be very clear about.
It will be likely that your photos will not gain that many hearts and thumbs as you could imagine when compared to other photographs, and maybe your main audience will be other photographers and not the vast global population.
What About Strangers?
One of the main concerns people have when starting out in street photography is to get a rough encounter with strangers on the streets. Social skills are extremely important when approaching unknown people, but there are some easier contexts that will help you out into starting to lose that fear.
Markets, public transportation, plazas, street artists and performers, food vendors, state fairs, etc. Anything that feels like a crowd is usually a good place for taking photos that fit within the commonly accepted aesthetic of street photography.
As soon as you start feeling more comfortable, you’ll feel the need to start walking away from those crowds more often. This need will appear someday and is a completely individual thing. By doing this you’ll start finding more interesting scenes with isolated subjects, and perhaps that could awake a huge need in yourself, creating a photographic essay, but we’ll leave that for another day.
People usually respond friendly if you are friendly as well; the best secret weapon a good street photographer has is a nice smile. In the 10 years, I have been hitting the streets, I’ve never had one single unfortunate encounter. Well, there was one thing, in which a lady asked me to delete some photos I took inside a cantina. I accepted to delete them right away, after all, they were hideously composed and poorly lit photos. Funny thing though, she wasn’t even on the frames! But aside from that, I haven’t had any other odd experience on the streets.
Asking For Permission
Asking for permission to hang around is a wise maneuver as well, and try not to take the camera right away. Take a close look, ease your pace, and understand how light behaves in that particular place. After a while, you’ll be less threatening to people, and you will be able to take some nice and beautiful candid frames of what grabs your attention the most.
Street photography is something that could be there for the rest of your life, hence the constant stating about it being a lifestyle more than a genre. It is, of course, a genre, but it doesn’t stop there. If the street photography mosquito bites you, you’ll have your whole life to master the knots and bolts behind it.
Don’t worry about nailing perfection right now either; the important thing in street photography is the experience you get by being out there in the world. In the next sections, we’ll talk a bit about certain techniques, as well as cameras and lenses that will make your involvement with street photography a more pleasing thing to do.
As soon as you start developing the street photographer’s mindset, you’ll become more aware of the importance of blending with the crowds. Anything that derives you from being noticeable is highly welcomed; so forget about looking like a “professional photographer”.
Good street photographers invest more money in high-quality walking shoes than in the latest and greatest pieces of gear, but there are some cameras and lenses that make it easier for us to get closer to the people in a conveniently inconspicuous way. That last part is fundamental for achieving candid shots on the streets, and cameras for street photography do play an important role in that matter.
Instead of telling you which lenses are the best for street photography in 2020, we’ll rather share information regarding the most useful focal lengths for the streets based on our personal point of view and experiences. Therefore, we’ll tell you some case examples based on our experiences about lenses on the streets.
When it comes to settings for street photography is pretty straightforward. All you need to know is that light might chance quickly depending on where you enter or how you move. But beyond that, the light will be abundant in the outsides and sort of reduced when walking under the shadows.
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