Street Photography by Adam Tan
- 08 Mar, 2022
Street photography is about making photographs in public places. To capture the random subjects, or any candid moments, with an attempt to evoke an emotion, convey a message, or to express ‘a story’ with our eyes seeing and our mind visualizing and putting together.
Some say that street photography is challenging as it requires patience, quick response, and hard work; coupled with a high failing rate, and the courage needed to approach total strangers on the streets or engaging in their activities. It’s indeed no easy task.
Let me share with you my past approaches and experiences in this area. I feel that the most important thing to do is to make an effort to understand what are the core factors that makes ‘good’ street photos. Spend time to study and analyze how it can be done and apply it diligently.
1. EQUIPMENT GUIDE
As far as gears are concerned, before we develop a personal preference, I would suggest to start with a (focal length of wide to mid telephoto range) kit lens with a zoom of 24-70mm, or an equivalent for APS-C as it gives you the angle of view’s range most ideal for street scenes and people as well. One can opt to choose and change the focal length at ease without losing time and missing the shot.
A small & light-weight camera does help: it’s handy, convenient and inconspicuous, just what we need on the street. Even if you are taking photograph in the rain with an umbrella in hand, you are still be able to click the shutter comfortably.
2. STARTING OUT
Always look for a main subject of interest with a good background. and revolve it around the subject within the frame is essential as that’s how story can come about. This is the easiest way to begin.
Another approach is to choose an appropriate background to frame and anticipate the main subject of interest to show up later on.
One of the reasons why we fail to make good street photography is mainly because we are unable to obtain a good background to support the main subject of interest and it’s largely because we do not pay much attention to the background, our attention is always being distracted by the main subject of interest.
3. ADVANCED TIPS
What I’m practicing as well, is always have to ensure the background is pleasing to the eyes, no clutter or irrelevant elements that should be included within the frame, that’s the priority before we go about capturing the decisive moment with a strong composition.
This is my usual approach to street photography and I find it makes our job so much easier. It usually enables us to acquire a much eye-pleasing and well-composed image.
You may want to know what I meant by “good background”; it is by careful arrangement of visual elements and the implied lines and shapes that result can produce an image that is easily “read” by viewer.
And with clarity means that the viewer’s eye can easily enter and travel about the image and that the message of the image is easily perceived. Sometime clarity can be achieved by simplicity, which means that the number of visual elements is reduced to a minimum. Visual complexity is just the opposite, with a large number of visual elements competing for attention.
Depending on my intention and purpose of my picture, I often have to juggle with shutter speed to project movement or ‘freezing’ my subject, with a shutter speed of 1/125 sec or higher and balancing my choice of ISO depending on the availability of natural light.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind sacrifice a little bit on the ‘noise’ and lower resolution for a good story.
To me, street photography is about good storytelling. That little noise would not do much harm to the image
Learn to observe light source too, how it affects your subject and your intentions of expressing the story behind your composition.
Experiment doing it under different weather conditions: rainy, foggy, sunny, overcast and so on.
Eventually you will find these elements are what helped to enrich the storytelling in our images.
I hope these simple guides could help you getting started with your interest in taking pictures or pursue a more serious approach in your photography.
4. FIND ME
I regularly conduct teaching workshops and special thematic sessions at my photography academy. If you have questions or wish to learn about my coming classes, please feel free to contact me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow my Facebook page.