10 Ways to Become a Better Street Photographer
- Oct 23, 2019
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1. Get closer
Robert Capa, one of the founders of Magnan, a famous street photographer, once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough." When you take street photography, it's necessary to get close to your subject. This allows you to take closer pictures so that you become an active participant rather than a peeper. Although there may be some fear in first approaching people, in practice and determination, this fear will disappear over time. Nevertheless, do not approach people simply to get close to them. Even if you are close, you must integrate the background into the scene, so that the viewer can get a complete image - a good integration of people and the environment.
2. Shoot people on the front (not on the back)
Although there are many great street photographs taken from behind, I would generally say that it would be better to take positive pictures of people. Human faces are absolutely fascinating, because there are no two faces that look exactly the same. Not only that, people's faces often tell stories. Therefore, we should avoid taking people's backs and strive to take positive pictures. If you see an interesting person behind your back, please quickly surpass them and take a picture in front of them.
3. Focus on telling stories
Whenever you go to the street to take street photos, you always think that you are trying to tell a story. Don't just take pictures of people or scenes without any narrative content. Look for people who interact with each other, or who dress to tell stories about their personalities.
4. Don't ask for permission from others
When you start taking Street photographs and timidly taking pictures of strangers, it's a good way to start asking for permission. However, street photography is defined as taking natural photographs without permission. Therefore, if you rely too much on the way you request permission to shoot, it will weaken your expressiveness. Why shouldn't you ask for permission? From my experience, I have found that whenever you ask someone to agree to take another picture of this person, you tend to lose the natural feel of street photography. Most people always wear the same smile or pose in front of the camera in an artificial and unnatural way. When you take a picture of this person without asking for permission, you can capture them everywhere in the natural state, so that you can capture the real part of their soul. In addition, if you shoot in the United States, as long as you are in public, it is 100% legal, and there are more complex legal provisions in Europe and other countries.
5. Shooting in wide angle
One of the most challenging things that helped me greatly improve street photography was shooting with wide-angle fixed-focus lenses. When I first started taking street photos, I used the APS frame fuselage with a 50mm lens (converted to about 85mm lens), which allowed me to keep my subjects at arm's length. Although I can take quite good pictures, personally they are not enough. Later, I upgraded to a full-frame camera and started using 35mm lenses, which gave me a wider perspective. This makes me focus not only on people, but also on the background. In addition, when shooting with a wide-angle fixed-focus lens, you give others a perspective so that they feel they are in your position and observe the scene directly. At present, I have been shooting with a wider 24 mm lens, which gives me more challenges and makes me more intimate with my subjects.
6. Don't shoot homeless people/street performers
7. Try all kinds of perspectives
Ninety-five percent of the photos were taken from an eye-level perspective, because of the fact that we are used to this perspective. Most photographs taken in this way do not get interesting perspectives. Instead, try taking pictures from other angles. Try shooting at very low angles, either squatting down, or shooting your camera up close to the ground. This will make your subject look more artistic than the actual person, and more likely to add artistic value to your street photography. You can also try tilting your camera, which can give your subject a more dynamic look. Climb to the top of a tall building and shoot from a high angle, trying to take pictures of people's interesting projections. Always take your street photography from different perspectives (puns).
8. Research Masters'Works
Without studying the works of street photographers, it is difficult to distinguish what is a "good street photograph". Buying lots of books about street photography and learning composition, viewfinder and aesthetic theory may be the best way to train your eyes. Here are some street photographers, and I suggest that you study and fully understand their works: * Henri Cartier-Bresson Robert Doisneau Andre Kertesz Brassai Weegee Helen Levitt Robert Frank Garry Winogrand Vivian Maier
10. Wait a while to share your photos with others
One of the problems with the Internet and modern digital photography is that it's too easy to take hundreds of photos and upload them to the Internet in real time. Today, editing (picking your best photos) is more important than ever. Street photographer Garry Winogrand once said, "Photographers mistakenly use their emotions when taking pictures to judge whether they are good or not." Therefore, Winogrand intentionally develops these pictures only a year after they have been taken, so that he can judge the pictures he has taken based on form and content rather than on pure feeling. Although it's great to go out and take a picture that you feel very good about, put it on for a few days and check it again before uploading it to the Internet. This will help you choose your photos more carefully and show only your best street photographs.