Exploring a new world II – Conquering the Streets. Author Vignesh Subramanian
Well this one’s going to take a bit of your time …
Capturing the moments on the streets is my personal favorite! The best part of street photography is that you need not travel far and wide to get those WOW shots! So why is this a part of the travel series? It’s because street photography is one of the best things that you can do while you are travelling! The actual feel of any city is on the streets, that’s where the action takes place every day and every night! A good street photograph tells the story of the place and the people who live there.
Street photography is all about timing, you need to keep your eyes open all the time. Street photography is also demanding, you can’t always just stand in one corner and do it, you need to walk, talk, see, visualize and feel the place!
As they say to capture the action you need to be close. You need to be a part of the action and not a mere spectator.
Well it’s easier said than done. For starters you might be scared to point the camera at some random guy and take a photograph; a workaround is to use a zoom lens. That way you can be at a safe distance and still capture the moment. As you keep doing this frequently you will gain your confidence and street photography will become more fun! People often tend to be suspicious with all the bad things going around the world .If someone questions you , smile and reply , tell them it’s your hobby, show them a few photographs that you have clicked. Remember it’s not their fault to feel unsafe around a random guy with a big camera. While doing street photography you can encounter rude and harsh comments or people driving you away when you point the camera at them, just be patient and do not over react. If you feel the environment is getting hostile apologize and Walk away.
If they ask you to delete the photograph do it immediately, trust me it’s not worth the tussle.
You might be thinking why to do this risky business!! Well it’s not as risky as it sounds. These are just possibilities. Most tourist places are very camera friendly. I have hardly been asked not to take a photograph or to delete a photograph. The key is to smile and look none threatening.
There are a plethora of subjects like street -food, people, colors, artifacts, interesting vehicles like a pull carts or a trams which are not very common in your city or country you could look for while doing street photography. Each country or even state has their own specialties- look out for them. Following are a few pointers which could help you kick-start your street photography skills while travelling or at home.
• The key is to keep your camera ready to capture the moment at all times. If it’s tucked cozily inside your camera bag then by the time you pull it out the moment will be gone !!
• Try to anticipate the moment. It won’t be easy at first, but observance, experience and patience will teach you how to anticipate the moment. The key is to wait for the moment to happen. Pre- Visualize a scene and wait for it! eg : You see a nice picture drawn on a wall , but it looks incomplete as there is no human element to it , you visualize a person walking across it but there is no one around at the moment. Now don’t just walk away thinking that it’s just not a good day ! Stay back and wait for someone to walk by else move on but make sure you come back and try again. That’s how you create photographs!
Up, Down, Left, Right: Don’t just shoot at your eye level, look up, look down, look right and look left! Crouch down and take shots touching the pavement, that’s what you want to do if you want to get shots with a difference. If you keep clicking at your eye level the result will be obvious and boring.
• Shadows and the sun: With street photography you don’t have to whine about “Golden hour “or the “Golden light” .You could be shooting in the middle of the day with the sun directly above your head and still get “WOW” shots. The key is to look out for shadows. Harsh shadows too tell a story, and well stories are what we are hunting for aren’t we? Not all stories are romantic; there are some which portray the harsh realities of life too!
• Black is beautiful: For a change shoot in black and white, there is something about black and white and street photography which is magical! Your normal looking shots suddenly start to look interesting!
Get Closer: Go as close as you can to your subjects. It’s one thing to capture standing far away with a zoom lens and another to be inches near your subject and taking the shot. When you are right next to the action you are being a part of it and when you are far away you are just a spectator. This reflects on your photographs.
Shoot wide: Using a wide angle lens is highly recommended. This way one needs to get close and also one can capture a big portion of the scene.
• Blend in: Try not to grab attention while doing street photography. In touristy places no one really cares. You look like a tourist and tourists click pictures. Also there are some places where its not possible , like for e.g an Indian guy can’t quite blend in if you are on the streets of Hong Kong can you ! However what you can do is take pictures quickly before your subject notices you. That way you can still get good candid pics.
Street photography has always been top on my photography check list on all my escapades. It is really amazing to see that there is so much all around us that we can capture, but just that we don’t see it !
Street photography is the first step towards seeing!