Tips for the Street Photographer
Street photography is simultaneously among the most rewarding and the most challenging genres. When you’re there at that serendipitous moment, just a few seconds away from clicking a masterpiece, the last thing you want is to end up taking a shoddy photograph.
1. Focus on the eyes
Eyes don’t lie. Anguish, mirth, shock, pride, compassion, enthusiasm are most powerfully communicated through the eyes. Nothing like a well-captured shot where the subject’s eye expressions jump right at you from the photograph and in a fraction of a second make his innermost feelings at that time instantly apparent or offer quick clues about his environment/situation. Having said that, as you will want to avoid being noticed, you shouldn’t actively pursue eye contact. If you can get one where the subject doesn’t change his/her expression as soon he/she realizes your presence, great. But generally, look for emotions and expression in people’s eyes when they’re interacting with others or the environment around them. It can tricky, but make a huge difference to the result.
2. Freeze the frame
When you’re out on busy streets, it is important to ensure that your shutter speed is fast enough to get detailed shots even during movement. Quick reactions and fast shooting are indispensable to street photography, and getting exposure right without missing a shot can be challenging. Use the Shutter Priority mode to keep shutter speed fast. For more control over your depth of field, experiment with the Aperture Priority mode.
3. Stick to a high ISO for low light photography
When the only drawback in a good photo opportunity is low light, it is best to use a high ISO. A high ISO means a faster shutter speed and a larger aperture – from f/8 to f/16 – for a larger sharpness range in the photograph. Even if you’re slightly off focus on your subject or have multiple subjects at various depths, there’s a greater possibility that the subject(s) will still come out sharp.
4. Rely on your intuition. Anticipate moments before they occur
The most compelling street photographs comprise of unmanipulated scenes with unaware subjects or at least subjects who don’t really care or start behaving unnaturally. Of course, the opportunities for amazing street photographs won’t present themselves generously each day. On your part, you must keep your eyes and ears open; importantly, let your intuition guide you and anticipate magical moments before they happen. Stay in a spot and observe people around you, as opposed to moving around from one place to another looking for something to happen. See if you can find a comfortable spot and try as much as possible to be invisible to your subjects.
4. Try the pre-focusing technique
If you’re having trouble ensuring that the main subject is firmly in focus, which is usually the case with street photography, pre-focusing is a good option to explore. Here, you switch the manual focusing mode and pick a point where your subject will pass through and focus on that point. Hit the shutter just before your subject gets to the point and you’ll get a pretty neat shot. For a fast-moving subject, set your camera at a fast shutter speed and shoot in continuous mode to stay ready when the subject hits the zone you’re after or where the action is going to occur.