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A Guide To Street Photography, Part I

A Guide To Street Photography, Part I

Street Photography is a style of photography where you take pictures of the streets and the people on them. It is much more spontaneous than portrait photography and you will usually come back home with some shots you were not expecting. Among some of the most famous street photographers are Vivienne Maier, Henri-Cartier Bresson and fashion street photographer Scott Shuman, whose blog you can see here:

This article is the first of two in a series on street photography where I will be giving you a few tips to how you can take some great shots. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and I will try to help you.

Tip 1 - Stand Still

The first trick to good street photography is that you do not have to move around to find your subjects (the people you are taking pictures of). You can find a nice street or a good window or something else that you like the look of and wait for the right person to walk by. This can take some patience, but you will usually get some great results. In the picture above, the photographer, Vivienne Maier, has probably noticed the pool of water and waited for the right people to step into her frame (the frame is the edge of all the things you can see in the picture). The reflection of the family in the water is quite beautiful and adds some mysteriousness to the picture.

Tip 2 - Change Your Presepctive

The second trick is to look somewhere else. Usually when you are walking down the street you will look straight ahead or down on the curb. Try looking up! If you’re walking in a city, there are lives going on in all the apartments around you and it is fun to see if you can catch small pieces of that just by pointing your camera upwards. Or you can try climbing up some stairs and looking down at the street around you, like Cartier-Bresson often did. In one of his most famous pictures, Cartier-Bresson went up some stairs and found the perfect angle of the street. He then waited there for a long time until the right person came by on his bike. If Cartier-Bresson had simply taken a picture of a man on his bike while standing at the same level as him, it might not have looked as good as it does in this picture.

Tip 3 - Don’t Zoom In and Don’t Take Pictures with the Expectation of Editing Them

Challenge yourself by only using the frame that your camera or phone is offering you. If you zoom in or out a lot, it is easy to forget that the picture should be more about what you are taking a picture of than how you are doing it. Steve McCurry, who is another great street photographer, often goes out with only one lens and makes sure that he himself is standing a place where he will get the best possible photo. You can see an example of his photography above. Similarly, you should try not to take a picture and think that you can simply edit out mistakes later. Try to make it as good as possible in the very first try – if you practice and give yourself a lot of time, you will learn to take amazing pictures!

Always remember that photography, like all forms of art, works differently for everyone. Do what works for you! These tricks are simply meant to get you started and then you can change your method as you learn.

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