STREET PHOTOGRAPHY LESSONS: FIVE QUICK WAYS TO MAKE INTERESTING PHOTO OUT OF THE BORING REALITY
PLACE THE SUBJECT IN FRONT OF THE INTERESTING BACKGROUND
It's the easiest one, and of course one of the most used cliches. Just look around you and try to find some interesting background. In an urban environment, usually, those are billboards, shop fronts, various marketing posters on a bus station, graphites on the walls. When you find an interesting background, adjust your frame in such a way that it leaves the space for the subject to fit. Then wait and as the people passing in front of the background take a few shots. Depend on the time you work and a number of shots you take, you can make an interesting combination. You can experiment with framing, moving the camera slightly on the left and right. After a while, you'll feel that you need to move on from the scene and then you probably should. But, sometimes, just out of curiosity, when I feel that way I force myself to stay a little longer. Sometimes the best photos come from that extra time.
SEARCH FOR THE LIGHT
That sentence from the great Trent Parke pretty much sums it all, but I will add a few thoughts here. Try to practice while walking the streets to concentrate only on light. Do not look for the subjects or backgrounds. Just walk and observe how the light falls, changes, and making shapes and shadows on the walls and ground. Examine also how different framing and angle of the lens can create an entirely different photo out of almost the same frame. Light can be subject of the picture in itself. Also, when you find a great spot with fantastic light, remember it, and try to come back a few more times to the same place. And, try to be aware that light, especially sunlight, can change in a matter of o seconds. So, work quickly. You can have a winner photo in front of your lens, and in just a split of a second it can turn in to the average dull street without any warning.
Try to look for intense colors, simple shapes, and high contrast scenes. Big forms of color with dark almost black shadows are a good combination. The problem in street photography is that, once we are on the street, it's hard to look on fast-changing reality from the "designers" perspective. We are drowning into the what's happening right now in front of us, and we are, somehow almost blind to see simple, clear compositions and color combinations. Try to walk slowly and only identify squares, triangles, circles and bold colors around you. It's hard at the beginning, but after a bit of practice, it becomes second nature.
FIND INTERESTING SUBJECT AND MAKE STREET PORTRAIT
The world is, no matter where you live, full of interesting people. You just have to look for them.
You can go in two different ways. You can shot without asking for permission, or you can ask the person if you can take a photo. Both approaches are ok. I usually combine these two depend on the situation and my current mood. Sometimes I shot first then ask and shoot some more.
Street photography purist will say that you need to use only prime lenses, but that's not the rule. You can use a telephoto lens and make great urban portraits from the far. If you are shy, or the beginner, it's the way to go, until you get some mileage on the street and courage under your skin. There are two problems with telephoto lenses. One is that it blurred background significantly behind the person. So, you may lose a lot of the surrounding that sometimes gives excellent support to the portrait. The second is, that because of a lot of space between you and the person you try to capture there are a lot of other people that are moving in between, and also other obstacles like trees or poles so sometimes it's hard even to get a clean shot. Especially in an urban environment where there are a lot of people walking around. Prime lenses are still the best ways to go, because if you want to get an excellent portrait, essentially, nothing is between you and the person when you at a close distance of 1-meter or less. But if you're not comfortable for that yet, don't worry, you will get there.
It's all about giving another new and interesting perspective to the reality we all see similarly. Photography has many ways to do that; that's why people love it so much. One of the useful tricks is to find a way to a place that will give you a "bird" eye on a scene. Just a position above the same area will provide you with a completely different photo. When I was practicing this in my hometown, I was surprised how the streets that I walked for years look from above. On many different spots, I saw my City, as never seen before. So go on the roofs, climb on the trees, go to a cafe that has a terrace above the street. And if you have money, rent a helicopter. I am just kidding. Go out and try what you read here. If you do not try it, you will not learn it.
And that’s all folks. Go out and shoot, what are you waiting for?
PEACE & LIGHT