How to Get Better at Street Photography

How to Get Better at Street PhotographyNew York City is one of the most vibrant places in the world. The city just pulses with energy day in and day out. Much of this has to do with the soaring population density, the intermingling of different cultures, and the frenetic pace of life in the Big Apple.

The result is a street photographer’s heaven where fantastic shots are waiting to be taken on every corner — if you know how to do so. Trying to capture the human condition in a frame is an art that requires skill and a bit of cleverness.

Survey the Area

Street photography is all about finding scenes that tell a story. It’s discovering how the little details come together in ways that turn the familiar into the fascinating. A sharp eye is needed to spot promising elements that could be useful should the right situations arise. Photographers will usually survey a particular area to make mental notes before taking pictures. This technique makes this enormous city more manageable. Familiarity with the district will come in handy when looking for suitable backgrounds, locating interesting subjects, or making a quick exit if trouble develops.

Master the Tools

Capturing remarkable scenes as they unfold requires rapid reflexes and a mastery of the tools. Such scenes may come and go at the blink of an eye so a person has to be ready to shoot given the opportunity. Veteran street photographers carry their camera wherever they go. They know when to press the button or adjust the settings. Due to the time constraints, most people use Automatic or Program mode but there are cases wherein tweaking is necessary. Low light situations, for instance, may require slower shutter speeds or higher ISO than the default settings. Learn more about these by taking photography classes in NYC.

Be Invisible

One of the goals of street photography is to show authentic glimpses of daily public life. As much as possible, the photographer must be isolated from the subject — an observer rather than a direct participant. Among the ways to prevent getting unwanted attention is to blend in with the crowd. Wear clothes that are typical for the neighborhood and choose dark colors if available. Leave the zoom lens at home. Small cameras with a wide-angle lens are more suitable when shooting incognito. Get into a nice position and clip the elbows when snapping a picture. Do not linger too long in one spot.

Know When to Walk Away

This type of photography can lead to some delicate situations. Weigh the risk and rewards if the stakes are high. Sometimes it is worth the trouble but often the wisest thing to do is to walk away and live another day. An example would be witnessing a street brawl up close. This could lead to memorable images but the risk of getting noticed and chased around would be enough to make one think twice. Safety is always the foremost consideration.

Article written by Kenneth Reinhold

Editorial Team
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  1. Those are some nice tips. Out of all the different photo subjects that I like to shoot, city streets are probably the most complex for me. There could be so much going on that trying to focus on a few things can be difficult for me.

    • Amit Verma says:

      Hi Paul, Yep agree with you in street photography we do face difficulties but we do get great shoots. Anyways keep trying you will able to do that properly. Have a great day. Thanks!

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