Street photography: tips and tricks

For some people, street photography seems something very simple and very friendly, at least in the beginning. If you have no high hopes in regards to your street photography skills, than easy is the right word for it, true. However, you will soon notice that street photography is actually one of the most difficult types of photography.

The first problem is the technical one – you cannot use just any lens out there, or any camera, that is if you want something interesting. Consider this – if you were to have a D-SLR camera, if you would be interested in close-up photography, a close-up lens (of quite good quality) is somewhere around $150. With street photography is a bit more difficult, however, I will get back to this particular aspect a bit later.

Street photography and the perfect moment

Aside from the technical part, there is also a certain behavior you have to look for, or you have to design strategies that will pave your road to success. How should one choose the perfect moment for his or her picture? How do you compose an image of a world that is constantly moving – remember, there are very few things you can change with street photography, and you have little time to spare.

All you can do is move yourself and your camera around, and aim for the best. Probably one of the most frustrating issues that come with street photography is the fact that you have to move constantly, you have to think fast, have your creativity in high gear and act based on it. Just think about how much time one can take with conceptual or macro photographs, how many takes a portrait session has, and how much a landscape awaits you to shoot a photo.

While no two pictures are indeed a like, with street photography no two situations are alike. It might be a single chance in the next year that blonde girl made that funny face that contrasted with the stop sign (a general example) or other similar situation. You probably get my drift by now. The second issue is in regards to camera gear. While some prefer using point and shoot cameras due to the fact that they are less visible than full-blown D-SLRs, I frankly would not trade my D-SLR for no point and shoot.

The only issue at stake is that once you want to use D-SLRs for street photography you will have to find the perfect lens for it and that can be quite pricey. You see – a wider lens is appropriate, however, opt for a zoom one that goes from something like 16 (or even 18mm) to 70mm or even 85mm. This way you opt for both wide angle (if the scene presents itself better as a wide photo) or portrait type, at 85mm.

Quality lenses for the street photography

Make sure you have no problems with the lens (check its quality, geometric distortions, chromatic aberrations and so on). Remember – the higher quality of the lens, the bigger the price. You can also opt for a series of filters that will make your photos even more interesting.

Presets are also important – make sure you do not use the full manual option but only if you know you can adjust them fast enough. Numerous shots were lost due to the fact that the photographer had to adjust shutter speed or aperture. On the other hand, even more shots were lost due to the fact that they were underexposed or overexposed. With street photography, it is imperative to note that high shutter speed and high apertures are your friend. The issue at stake is that often you cannot have them both.

Make sure you have the right balance between the two – if you want to isolate a subject from the crowd, go for low aperture and high shutter speed. If you feel as if you cannot dismiss any of the two (aperture and shutter speed) then use your ISO setting, however, in my opinion you should not go up more than ISO 800, even if quality is acceptable after that point too.