During my short time as a Street Photographer I have come to realise just how difficult it is. As I said in my introductory post ‘anyone who thinks it’s easy has probably never tried it or doesn’t do it properly’! Sure, anyone can stick a 200-300mm telephoto lens on and take random snapshots of people 100-200 metres away but that’s not what street photography is all about. So in this blog post I will try and explain some of the difficulties I have encountered so far.
I think anyone who is new to street photography or relatively inexperienced (like myself) goes through this. “What if I get into trouble?” “What if I get assaulted?” “What if they shout at me?” etc etc. I am still wary and nervous (but I’m getting better). I have never, up to now, had any problems on the street. Sure, you sometimes get some strange looks but that will always happen. The only way to overcome this fear is to get out there and do it. Practice, practice, practice. Start by shooting from a distance you feel comfortable with and gradually get closer. Study people too. If a person appears angry or in a bad mood then they may react. If I see a person like this and I don’t feel comfortable about the situation then I don’t take the shot. Let your senses guide you a little.
In most other forms of photography you can get set up, capture the image you want and if it’s not quite right (over/under exposed, d.o.f needs tweaking, composition needs adjusting etc) you can make the adjustments and take the shot again. As long as the light hasn’t changed drastically you can have several attempts to get the shot just how you want it. Not so with street photography. In most circumstances you get ONE chance to make the shot and very often you have to react quickly. You can set your camera when on the street to maximise your chances but the failure rate is still high. I am not a prolific shooter and I try to pick my subjects and compositions carefully. Even so, I still only get about a 10% success rate. So 90 shots out of 100 are either unusable or not good enough. This can be for many different reasons. For example;
- Sometimes when you have to react quickly you can miss focus.
- Someone can walk in front of you just as you take the shot.
- The person/s you are shooting could move, turn away, stop doing the gesture you were hoping to capture.
- A vehicle could come between you and the subject.
The list is endless. However when everything comes together just right and you get a really great capture the satisfaction and adrenalin rush you get is huge!
I don’t really know what to call this one, or even if there is a proper term for it!?
If you are in a busy area where there are lots of people and activity going on all around you it’s very easy to let your emotions get carried away with all the excitement and think that all your shots are going to be great! REMEMBER, the viewer can’t see all that activity going on around you in a 360 degree panorama. They can’t hear that music playing, the people laughing, shouting, talking all around you. All the viewer gets is what you frame and capture. So if you are in a busy area with lots happening take a step back, calm your emotions and think even more about your shots and framing to try and deliver some of that atmosphere.
If you are out on the streets shooting for 3-4 hours, particularly in hot weather, maintaining concentration and keeping alert for photo opportunities can be very difficult. As Spyros mentioned in his post “keep yourself hydrated”. If you feel your concentration going sit down and take a break for a while. It’s better to take a short break to refresh yourself than to walk around aimlessly for another hour or two, missing most of what is going on around you, because you have lost concentration. Most of the time when I get home from a photo walk I am mentally drained from the concentration.
These are just a few of the things I have come up against and I may follow this up with a “Part 2” in the future.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. As always your comments and feedback would be welcomed and very much appreciated.
Thanks for reading