PE: Street Photography for dummies

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StamatisGR's avatar

My Street PhotoBlog: Streets of Athens

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A brief guide to Street Photography beginners

Shiny Happy People by StamatisGR

What do we need to shoot a Street picture?

1. A camera

Whatever kind of a camera is good. Either it is a ridiculously expensive rangefinder or an unbelievably cheap point and shoot compact. Either it shoots digital or it shoots film. Either it weighs a ton or it weighs few grams. ANY camera is fine as long as you have it with you. The most expensive rangefinder or SLR is completely useless if it's been left at home! So...Carry a camera. Always.

2. A public place

This can be out in the streets or at the beach or inside a hotel's lounge or in a diner place or inside a supermarket or a mall or a school or whatever PUBLIC place. This public place must be visible in our picture. And things must be happening in this public place.

3. People

Exactly, people! We need people in candid, unstaged situations.
Definition of "candid" from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary: "subjects acting naturally or spontaneously without being posed" Definition of "candid" from Wikipedia: "Candid photography is best described as un-posed and unplanned, immediate and unobtrusive. This is in contrast to classic photography, which includes aspects such as carefully staged portrait photography, landscape photography or object photography. Candid photography catches moments of life from immersion in it."

4. A story,

a unique moment, an interaction between people and their environment or between people and people, a special "something" that is being happening in front of our eyes and it is worth capturing in a picture.

There's nothing special in people strolling down a street if we can't focus our attention in something special that's being happening in front of our lens.

Let's see now some examples of pictures that don't follow these guidelines:

First Autumn Rain-Song+Lyrics by StamatisGR
We have the street, we don't have the people here.

Here we have the people but we don't have the environment, the place. The moment is candid, unstaged but it's totally out of context.

Warm light, cold women by StamatisGR
Both people and environment are present here, but there isn't really a strong interaction between them.

Colour vs B/W

Street photography is very much about composition. Sometimes colour can be distructing. Sometimes colour adds to the frame and is a vital element of it. Try both.
Black and yellow by cosmin-m   Mobile facebook by cosmin-m

Decide yourself what suits you better in every particular picture. Avoid selective colouring which produces totally unatural results and forcibly guides our attention to a certain part of the image. Avoid partly desaturating or tinting. "Street" needs no cheap frills which make a good image bad and a bad image worse. "Street" needs to be raw, as much straight out of the film or the sensor. 

Street, Photojournalism or Portrait?

Very often, the line between Street Photography, Photojournalism, or Portrait Photography is very THIN and responsible for endless arguements. Many times there are subtle differences between these three genres and images may belong to 2 or even all 3 of them. I have a simple rule in my mind which usually helps me differentiate them.  If an image has the potential to be published in a newspaper as "news", it's Photojournalism. If the subject(s) is out of context, it's a portrait.
In the end though, it really doesn't matter which category an image falls in.
If it's a GOOD image, that's all that it counts ;)

Coming tomorrow

Street Photography for experts

© 2012 - 2023 StamatisGR
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sDodovieh's avatar
and what about the right in one's own image?
Dont we have to ask the people before we submit photos of them online? :O_o: