7 tips & tricks for Street Photography
Updated: May 21, 2020
Street Photography is not as hard as most people think. In this short article I will share with you some tips & tricks to make your shooting easier and your picture better.
Some of these tips are so obvious you will think 'I know this already', but sometimes you just need to be reminded about them.
“You need to smile more” (unknown French photographer in Vietnam)
In 2017 I met this "flamboyant" French photographer on a trip in Vietnam and the biggest lesson I learned from him is that you need to be 'open' and 'happy'. Most of the time people will reply with a smile when you smile at them. When they approach you and talk to you, explain them what you are doing, why you are taking the pictures and show them. If they refuse to be on camera, or ask you to delete them afterwards, please grant their wishes
Off course it helps when people do not realize that their picture is about to be taken. So you better walk around casual, swift and light. In other words, don't go dragging around a bag full of heavy lenses, wearing flashy clothes and your camera hanging around your neck. Keep your camera (lowered) in your hand, tuned to your preferred settings, walk around casually and observe the environment. Frame your picture first in your head before you finally aim and shoot. (In the beginning, I would recommend shooting with the same lens, preferably a prime lens 50mm or 35mm..... as it forces you to move to/from your object while thinking about the ideal composition up front)
““Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” (Henri Cartier-Bresson)
Practice makes perfect. Not all of us were born as talented street photographers as Bresson. So make enough shots, don't hold yourself back. It also helps to share your pictures with like-minded souls and ask their feedback. And be critical to your own pictures. Don't expect every picture you shoot to be a million-dollar shot. Be harsh in your selection. I don't believe in 'keeping all your pics'. #killyourdarlings
Be Patient and look for the perfect Background
In street photography the background is often as important as the foreground elements. So once you discover the ideal background, you need to have patience to wait for the ideal situation. Make sure you already make some test shots so your composition and camera settings are ready for when your 'ideal subject' walks/moves into your frame. The next picture was shot in Antwerp, 2018 and is by far my most Lucky shot. What are the odds that a girl passes by with the exact same dots on her coat...
My preferred settings
Off course there are no ground rules for which settings you need to use while shooting on the street, but I found myself often using a prime lens with fixed focal length 50mm and a shutter speed of 1/250 (1/200). Aperture is very often 5.6, but highly dependent on the subject. ISO I tend to put on automatic.
Good luck! And don't hesitate to leave your own tips in the comments below...