Street photography, in my opinion, is one of the most challenging genres to master. Other than knowing light and composition and knowing your gear inside and out, you need to be alert and fast enough to capture the perfect moment. Still, while I find the latter pair of skills pretty hard, my urge to get into street photography is getting stronger.
If you’re anything like me, Pat Kay has a perfect video for you. This street photographer shares five techniques and tips that will help you conquer street photography and improve at it immensely.
1. Master your settings
As I mentioned, shooting street photography requires you to know your gear like the back of your hand. I believe it’s applicable to any genre, though, but that’s a different topic. Anyway, you need to act fast to capture the right moment, so make sure to get to know your camera and what it’s capable of. But also, you need to know which settings work best in which environment.
All of this requires some practice and you go out to shoot pretty often. Practice makes perfect, as they say. But, pat gives you a few tips that will make it a little easier in the beginning.
First, use continuous AF to capture moving subjects with higher accuracy. When you set the aperture, have in mind what your camera’s AF is capable of. Generally speaking, setting the aperture between f/5.6 and f/8 is a safe bet. As for the shutter speed, you want it fast enough to speed the action or slow enough to blur the action, depending on what you want to achieve. To freeze the action, go for 1/400 s and above. And to blur it, aim for 1/15 and below, depending on how steady your hands are or if you’re using a tripod. Finally, the ISO comes last. Use the ISO that allows other settings to be corrected first. Learn to quickly change your settings and do it without looking – you’d rather have your eyes on the scene in front of you than on your camera’s dials and buttons.
2. Accept imperfections
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. It happens, especially in a fast-paced environment such as the street. In street photography, you aim for telling the story, so if your composition isn’t exactly “perfect” or the image isn’t tack-sharp, it shouldn’t be something to be too worried about.
3. Shooting for the scene
Street photography is about people along with the places and spaces that they occupy. Sometimes you want to shoot a visually compelling scene, and you wait for people to walk in to add the human element to the shot.
For these situations, Pat has a few tips on how to make it work out perfectly. First, take your time and work the scene. In other words, stay there long enough and understand how the light changes or how the people walk into the scene. This way, you can predict what your final image will look like. Having this in mind, create a vision in your mind of how you want your photo to look. And finally, set up your shot and be patient to get the right time and the right person in the scene.
4. Shoot in every condition
Because street photography is mainly about the documentation of the human condition and life, you can shoot at any time of day and in any weather conditions. So don’t be afraid to take photos whenever you feel like it and don’t feel limited by the time of day or the weather. This brings us to the next and the final point: experiment!
5. Experiment often
There are many different themes you can incorporate in street photography. You can shoot for patterns, emotions, moments, or scenes – and don’t be afraid to try them all. This way, you’ll get acquainted with all of them, but also learn more about yourself, what you like most, and eventually, you’ll form your own style in street photography.
I don’t know about you, but this video has made me want to go out and take photos in the street, at least so I can see what I come up with. My camera is far from discreet, so I think I’ll give it a go with my phone first. I hope you also feel inspired to go out and shoot right now, and if so – make sure to share your photos with us. Happy shooting!