I am often asked by people who have developed an interest in learning street photography but are not sure where to start the process. They have probably been influenced by so many conflicting photography styles that they have become confused as to where to begin. The first belief is that you need an expensive camera but that is just not the case. Obviously there are quirks to a higher end camera but don’t let that be an obstacle that will prevent you from getting involved in a wonderful genre of photography. Indeed, most cameras will suffice in this art form and plenty of street photographers get by with using their smartphone.
Start by noticing small things
I would suggest taking your camera into a busy high street one day but not to take photos straight away but with the intention that you are going to take photos. Just get into the flow of life as you move around the streets and begin to notice things, small things, that in some way make you notice them.
Ask yourself what is it that makes you want to notice something. It could be anything from a person walking a dog, a small group of people having a conversation or the way someone is standing isolated lost in thought.
Standing out like a sore thumb
It’s always a good idea to make mental notes of what interests you more than other things. Try to observe how you manage to keep from being noticed and whether people actually know of your presence. When you carry a camera people will tend to pick up on that fact and may give you a wide berth.
Do you find yourself standing out like a sore thumb because of the bright yellow jacket and 300mm lens you have in front of you? This is probably not the best way to approach being a street photographer. The best way is to just blend into the background with regular clothing and a smaller camera that is harder to pick up in a crowd.
When you begin to embrace street photography it begins to tap into social etiquette and you may be forced to break some social norms by getting up-close and personal with your subjects, standing and photographing strangers whilst not asking permission.
In general you begin to learn how to blend in with the crowds and backgrounds and become less noticeable but there will be plenty of times where some people may notice you taking their photograph.
In this situation you may have to rely on your wits and consider your best way of finding a solution if the person/s are a little bit peeved, but most of the time a sincere approach and explaining what you do can go a long way to keeping the peace.
The more you get out and shoot on the streets will inherently make you more focused on your photography, rather than what strangers are thinking of you as you work.
A thousand ways to skin a cat
That’s the thing with street photography there is literally a thousand ways to skin a cat and the trick is finding the technique and style that fits you and how you want to work. The best way is always to just make a start or GIG as I call it Get It Going!
Let go, or be dragged. Zen Proverb
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