Street Photography…

As one of my projects for this year I’m thinking about getting out of my comfort zone and practicing a style of photography known as “Street Photography”. I work in Sydney’s CBD so this location should hopefully provide a wealth of early morning, lunchtime and late afternoon subject matter for those times I can get out to try my hand.

One possible misconception is that street photography is the photographing of empty streets – perhaps a better term for this class of photography would be social, ‘in the moment’ or ‘real life reportage’ photography. It’s photographing people in their natural environments.

Street photography seems to have had a bit of a resurgence lately, it can be quite exciting – you can go around in public and take pictures of (gasp) strangers!

For me I see a few main areas of potential growth for myself:

  • the obvious things like ability to compose and shoot quickly, to look and notice more about whats going on around me, to see and anticipate ‘moments’, train the eye, camera handling and familiarity – all useful skills for most other photographic disciplines
  • overcoming shyness, building the self confidence to walk up to strangers and (ask to) take their photo
  • patience 🙂

Street photography is not in any way new – classical masters of the form included Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winogrand, Robert Frank, Elliott Erwitt, Saul Leiter and many others.

There appear to be at least two main (but opposite) approaches to street photography,

Candid – capturing the moment spontaneously, without asking subjects to pose for you.

This can be achieved by being inconspicuous, perhaps only showing the camera at the moment of capture; it might also be achieved using a longer focal length lens from a distance. The approach can also include Shooting from the Hip, this involves taking your photographs without raising your camera up to your eye to frame the shot. Instead simply hold your camera (with wide angle lens) down around you waist (or hip) somewhere and aim up towards your subject. It’s a bit more random but can produce interesting results.

Conversational – where you engage the subject beforehand, striking up a conversation, getting to know them and their personality and asking their permission before taking any photos.

So on to some images…

The first is a homeless man who shines shoes in the Pitt St Mall:

NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm, 1/250 sec at f / 5.0, ISO 200

This second was also taken in Pitt St on the street – in this case I asked and he kindly obliged by posing for a photo:

NIKON D90 + 17.0-50.0 mm f/2.8 @ 42 mm, 1/80 sec at f / 2.8, ISO 200

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