A drunk guy in a bar in Amsterdam said the following to me after I told him I work as a fine-art photographer: “So man, you love that photo stuff, right? Do you have to pray to the photo gods for good shots or how do you get them?” Although he spit all over me, it really made me think. On the ride home I asked myself: “If your photography was a church, what would you believe in?” This article focuses on my strongest beliefs to create great photos and my personal deadly sins that prevent me from doing so. I can’t wait to hear your sermons, sins and “shaaaame” shouts in the comments! This is my personal answer that merely serves as food for thought to confirm, re-evaluate or expand your beliefs.
Is the most egalitarian form of photography, ‘street photography’, being destroyed by its own popularity? Is such a thing even possible? I won’t profess to have a clear answer to this question, but I do have some thoughts. Those thoughts may turn into a rant, but I will try to contain myself!
It might sound like a provocation but it is not.
You should notice the little difference. I am not asking if you have got the brains for street photography. I am asking if you have got the brain for it. The single “s” in brain(s) is the difference. A huge difference.
1.Always using the Manual Mode
One common misconception and Street Photography mistake is the believe that professional photographers always use the manual mode and therefore it is also useful for Street Photography, right?
Firstly, professional photographers don’t use the manual mode every time. They use it when it benefits them, but they also choose an automatic mode when conditions are changing rapidly and would mean to adjust the camera settings too often. The automatic modes that come with the camera are already well developed and tested in the field. A lot of professional wedding photographers use them, as well as photojournalists.
The street isn’t a place where you can define your settings once and can go with them all day. Choosing the automatic modes allows you to focus more on taking the picture and wasting less time to fiddle with your camera.
I wanted to write you a letter on the art of street photography, based on my personal experiences, my personal passion, and things I’ve learned along the way
Imagine a boat at sea, that is swaying in the ocean. Without an anchor— it would float away (and possibly be captured by pirates).
What is your “visual anchor” in your frame?
Treat the same metaphor to your photos; your viewer is looking at your image. What is the “visual anchor” which keeps their attention from swaying? What is the one thing you want your viewer to focus on in your image? If you make your photos too complicated, your viewer will become frustrated, and move on.
You want one central visual anchor for your viewer’s eyes to settle on — to keep their intrigue. That can be a single eye, a single hand-gesture, a single color, or a single subject.
How far would you go for a shot? French photojournalist Yan Morvan spent his 40-year long career shooting gangs and wars. He was exposed to dangers, gunshots and bombs all the time, and even got kidnapped by one of the most notorious rapists and murderers in France.
An educated man and a talented photographer in situations like these – that had to result in some amazing photos and interesting stories. And you can see both of these in the video.
The joy of Photographing on the street comes from close and engaging photos. Displaying the human nature and emotions in a way that the audience can relive these moments requires the photographer to be close and engaging as well. Unfortunately for a lot of us, it is not easy to stand out from the masses and overcome artificial social boundaries. Causing an irrational fear of photographing in public and making the live as a street photographer very hard. In the following article I will describe the sources of this obstruction that is limiting our full capability.
When I was 20, I was dissatisfied with my photography. I felt like I was being limited by where I lived.
I thought if I wanted to become a better street photographer, I needed to live in Europe — and photograph the romantic streets of Paris, the back-alleys of Prague, and the bustling streets of London.
But the sad reality check was that after backpacking in Europe for a month, I didn’t become a better photographer. I saw some unique things, met interesting people, had different food, and whatnot — but I didn’t become a better photographer.
No, this is not about food 🙂 this is an easy way to remember the four key elements that makes a good photo: Design, Information, Emotion and Timing.
Photographer Craig Semetko explains how he sees that DIET to have a huge impact on a photograph. One element out of the DIET is good, but having three or more, is almost always a guarantee for a great photo. Hit the jump for some examples: