First things first. My name is Marius Vieth and I’m a 26 year old fine art photographer from Amsterdam who loves nothing more than street photography.
After shooting all sorts of things from 2011 to 2012 without ever finding myself and feeling my photography, I discovered my deep passion for street photography in the first month of my 365 project in 2013.
Since then, I’ve not only spent almost every single day on the streets of the world to capture wonderful moments, but I’ve also built my life around it.
Within these two years, I’ve won 20 awards so far, but if there’s one thing that makes me happier than that, it’s sharing my experiences and maybe inspire fellow photographers to fall in love with street photography as well.
So, here are three incredibly important lessons about street photography I’ve learned so far!
1. Your Best Friend: Natural Contrasts
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned. I can’t stress enough how crucial natural contrasts are – especially in street photography. I’ve made this mistake hundreds of times and I see it all the time. Always try to bring your dark subject in front of a bright background and vice versa.
This may sound so obvious, but it’s one of the most common mistakes that take away from the energy of a photo. I’ve taken plenty of awesome photos that just didn’t work because the subject didn’t differ enough from the background. Try to avoid that as much as possible and spare yourself the agony of losing an otherwise amazing photograph.
2. Keeping It Minimalistic With Gear Avoidance Syndrome
GAS, also known as Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is very common among photographers. It simply means that you just can’t get enough new lenses, equipment and upgrade your cam as soon as possible in order to have more options and improve.
However, the opposite side of it, “Gear Avoidance Syndrome” as I call it, might even be healthy for your photography. The underlying issue is what psychologists call “Paralysis by Analysis.” It simply means that you’re getting so carried away analyzing every aspect of a photographic situation on a technical level that you oversee what it’s truly about.
The great range of technical choices distracts from the even bigger choices on a creative level where the magic happens. My advice is to just stick to one body and lens of your choice which works for you and just sell the rest. Although there are less options available, you’ll find way more creative ways to capture what you feel! In a way, all your technical options before turn into creative solutions with your minimalist set-up.
3. Consider Your Photos as Paintings
The huge difference between paintings and photography is that when you paint, you add elements and when you take photos, you reduce elements. I’m not saying that you should reduce your sceneries as much as I do, it’s just my personal preference. But one thing that I learned in the beginning was that street photography doesn’t give you the right to neglect composition and subject, because it’s a candid moment. I did that in the beginning and I think it’s wrong.
This genre demands careful selection of subjects, composition and all other elements that make a great photo as well. It’s just harder, because you don’t have direct influence on what’s happening. However, it helped me a lot to see my photos as a painting. Find elements you like and add them to your canvas. Ideally each element should have a reason why it’s in there. Even if you take really vivid street photos with lots of elements, still ask yourself, why did I capture half a shopping cart in the background? No painter ever would draw something without having a reason why that element would add something to the painting. It took me a long time to realize that, but it definitely helped and I’m still working on it.
7 More Essential Street Photography Lessons
I’ve just published my very first e-book called “10 Essential Street Photography Lessons” on my website. As a special offer you can get it for free right now, and join the fastest growing free street photography newsletter course online where you send me questions and I answer them in the following newsletters. Don’t miss it and grab your free street photography e-book now.
About The Author
Marius Vieth is a street photographer from Amsterdam. Together with his partner Martin Dietrich he runs the International Fine Arts Label NEOPRIME, a limited editions gallery aimed at lovers of art. You can follow Marius on twitter, flickr, Facebook, instagram, and tumblr.