Street photography is not a common genre. Not all people are willing (and brave) to plunge into this type of photography deeply. But for some people who love it, street photography is highly worthy for them because most moments captured by the camera happens only once so they are unique. Eric Kim, an international street photographer said that this genre of photography is 80% courage and 20% skills. For them who are shy and tend to get panic easily, it will be a huge challenge. There will be times you get scolded and yelled. You will be told to get lost and to delete the photos you take and etc. but imagine how amazing is the experience and the result of it.
So, what we need to start performing street photography?
Look at the following tips:
The Dos (What you should do)
• Take as minimal equipments as possible. A camera and a lens are enough. You don’t need a tripod, speed-light, light meter, and etc. you need to be fuss free in order to look less conspicuous. Most street photographers choose to have their 35mm fixed lens for their ultimate weapon on streets.
• Dress suitably. To be a street photographer requires you to gel and blend with the crowd. If you step out from your home looking so conspicuous and different, don’t expect people to ignore you when you shoot. Instead you will be the object yourself and not the photographer.
• Switch off the flash and set the setting of your camera before you go. There is nothing that can catch one’s attention more than a dazzling flash, even during the day.
• Use aperture mode (A) and center focus. This will let you get photos faster. Remember that there are so many unpredictable things that might happen so fast on the street.
• Be patient. Find crowded and naturally interesting locations. Wait until you can find the right moment to get good image. You will never want to miss the real interesting moments by wasting your time capturing ordinary photos.
The Don’ts (what you should not do)
• Do not use noisy camera or one with sound effect which cannot be switch off. You should not draw attention while shooting.
• Do not appear like a photographer. Ideally, you should look like a normal pedestrian. Back to the second point of “The Dos” above.
• Do not stalk people or act like a spy. Even if you are good at it, do not do it because people hate to be stalked. If you are caught trailing behind people, it can get you into trouble.
• Do not get too close to people or shoot them right in front of their faces. Not only they will get offended, but your photos will lose its needed candid impression. In some moments, it is fine to let your objects aware of being photographed. But you cannot act like a paparazzi and make them feel uncomfortable.
• Do not force people. There are times when you will meet people who are uncomfortable to get captured. If they clearly refuse, you should retreat immediately and apologize if needed.
• Act up to the culture of the surroundings. Do not photograph as you like especially in new places that you just visit for the first time. Learn the regulations and customs applied in society especially on the locations where you shoot. For example, if you enter a mosque, a temple or any other holy places, take off your shoes before shooting inside it.
• Take a photograph with your heart in your sleeve. Sometimes, the life of people on slums and streets indeed become very dramatic objects of photography. Beggars, loiterers, homeless drifters are often captured by photographers’ cameras. Do not only expose their affliction there. You should also at times, help them by giving some money or foods. Or perhaps, you can showcase your pieces of work for charity. That will be better than just exposing their misery to indulge your own satisfaction.
All the tips above are just logical points for most photographers. Of course, they are parts of street photography. In addition, as a street photographer, you need to have quick eyes that can recognize when and what exactly to shoot. The key to get good street photos is speed with as little distraction as possible. The ability to become invisible and the ability to shoot through view finder are the two things that will make you a great street photographer.