I am certainly not an expert, I’m a really keen street photographer, each street walk brings different results, that is indeed why I love it so much. My street stuff, is mainly personal projects, a chance to try new things without pressure or high expectation of a paying client. I find it liberating and it enhances my skills, a chance to really play with your camera and lenses, again stressing the importance of having no stress. It can be extremely rewarding and extremely frustrating, again all part of the fun.
Photographers have different views as to what makes a great street photo. Some of us are more interested in details while others have wide seeing vision. I am definitely in the first category. I am much more interested in details, I rarely shoot an entire building but I concentrate on details such as door knobs, textures, colours or a story. some of my friends or acquaintances are cityscape street where the whole scene and building is important. Not for me, in fact to try and pigeon hole me to one or the other is wrong, i just watch and adapt to whats in front of me, or what lens I am using at that specific time.
The most common approach I have is to understand the light and make it work for me, I am not a scene stalker, I don’t find somewhere awesome and sit for hours waiting for something to happen, I like to work fast and furious, sometimes you are lucky other times your not. my style works for me, but that might not be how others work. On a real nice day, I might stay in a great location for a bit, however this would be rare. Just like a nice day in Scotland is rare.
I’m past the “just shoot” stage, I am more keen on learning what made my good shots, what settings worked, and what ones didn’t. For people starting out, “just shoot” is a great way to get started, but in the long term I can’t see the benefit to a style or technique you want to have. I flirt between full manual and Av (Aperture priority, often abbreviated A or Av(for aperture value) on a camera mode dial, is a setting on some cameras that allows the user to choose a specific aperture value while the camera selects a shutter speed to match, thereby ensuring proper exposure). If I am struggling to get it, or understand the light, I quickly fire it into P mode or auto, to see what my camera is telling me, and then back to manual to tinker, for some reason I feel like I am cheating if its on auto, haha, again this is very rarely done and only when I am baffled as to why I can’t get the scene to work, being in Scotland the light changes dramatically quickly and at times we have four seasons in 10 minutes, so being adaptable is a must.
Everything from lines to patterns, and of course people are among my favourite things to snap, I never go telephoto lens as zooming isn’t for me, I like to be close, but don’t mistake close for in your face. I have lost my inhibitions, well until I went on the subway that is, read about it here. I don’t really fear snapping people or getting close anymore, some people react, some don’t, the important thing is to always be cheerful and approachable, if someone seriously objects, delete and move on, no point in making a big deal. Some people are curious and these are the ones you want to talk to, they often let you get a few great shots, have a business card handy to give them so they can check up later to get a copy of a shot you took. I’d want a copy. You can get business cards for pennies these days. A good start to test camera settings is on street performers, they love the attention, and if you have a DSLR with you people round about stop as they think a star is performing on the street 🙂 giving you another captive audience to snap.
I am at the stage where I am happy to approach a person and chat and take their shot, it does take a wee while to get your confidence, if this is something you are struggling with, go on a photo walk with someone more confident and see how they do it. the most important message though, is to just go out and do it, enjoy it, unwind, relax and have fun, get creative, gain confidence, it will happen I promise.