5 Ways to Win the Streets

Browse the photography books in your local Borders and you’ll often see image after image of exotic locations. Whether you’re looking at pictures of the stones of Angkor Wat or the walls of Borobudur, you can’t help but feel that a world class picture requires not just a top-of-the-range camera and a sack of talent, but also a stack of air miles and an expense account big enough to carry you around the world.

But in fact, to take pictures that are out of this world, you don’t need to do anything more than step outside your own front door. If street photography was good enough for Henri Cartier-Bresson, it can be good enough for you too. Here are five ways to win the streets:

  1. Capture The Crowd
    One of the great things about street photography is that no two streets are the same. Some are packed with people. Some have interesting buildings. And others are surrounded by great scenery. Your first decision then will be to decide what kind street you want to document.If you live in a big city, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to move too far without running into a crowd. That’s an opportunity. Groups of people pay less attention to someone with a camera than individuals do. They won’t pose, they won’t protest and they won’t all glance into the lens. And they’ll all be doing different things at the same time in your shot. The result is often a mixture of faces and expressions that can create effective contrasts.
  2. Go Black And White… Or Not
    There’s something about cities that just calls for black and white; maybe it’s the grey concrete, the black roads and the dark windows. You can certainly create very evocative street pictures in black and white fairly easily, but it’s almost a cliché. Sometimes a little color in the right place — on a piece of graffito, perhaps, or the edge of a park — can show a street in a whole new light.
  3. Pick A Time…
    Back at the start of the year, the BBC’s PM program asked readers to send in photos of whatever they could see at 5pm. Being the BBC, they received thousands of submissions. You, however, could take one picture every day at the same time in a different part of your town. At the end of a week or a month or more, you’d have a snapshot of what your entire town does at one special moment.
  4.  … Or A Place.
    Alternatively, you could choose one location and shoot from exactly the same spot at different times of day. You could either shoot a stream of pictures over the course of a day or return on the same day each week at different times to break up the work. The result would be the changing scenes of a day in the life of one street in your city.
  5. Shoot Fast, Shoot Plenty
    The challenge of street photography is that it’s a public affair. Passers-by have a habit of looking at the camera or changing their behavior when you take a shot. And streets move fast too. Before you’ve had the chance to focus, the picture could be gone. So forget about lugging tripods and lighting equipment around.

For the most part, you’ll want a camera you can point and click. And a memory card that can hold dozens of pictures so that you don’t have to worry about the missed moments.

[tags] Street Photography[/tags]

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