Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Street photography advice

  1. #1
    Rhoads238's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    505
    Real Name
    Jason

    Street photography advice

    Hey all,

    I have recently begun delving into the wonderful world of street photography. Its great fun and quite the challenge. However I sometimes feel awkward taking pictures of strangers and a bit of a perv. Its not that I'm taking voyeur-ish photos. I'm just trying to not be a creep. Is there any way to get around that sensation?

    Any and all advice on the topic would be wonderful. Not just on how not to be a creep.

    Thanks

    -Jason

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    19,717
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Street photography advice

    Jason

    You need to have Phil (dubaiphil) come on here and answer you. Do a search on his name and have a look at some of the stuff he's been posting. The other person who really knew this craft was Willie (jiro), but he hasn't been posting for a while.

  3. #3
    dubaiphil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Northampton
    Posts
    1,850
    Real Name
    Phil Page

    Re: Street photography advice

    Hi Jason

    Firstly, I'm no street photography expert but I've been taking environmental portraits and street candids for the past year.

    The rules for street photography - as far as I can see there are no rules. Some people manually set their focus and aperture and literally shoot from the hip without the viewfinder or LCD being anywhere near their eye. Some people like to shoot with a 70-200 or 70-300 - personally I'd feel a little pervy and creepy with that setup! Some people insist that unless you've been bitten by a rabid dog, mugged by a homeless person, and shoot only with a beaten up old Leica M3 on Tri-X and a 50mm you're just not into it enough!

    Personally I like to be as discreet as possible. Being a westerner in western clothing, 6'3", with a gripped pro DSLR in the Middle East this can sometimes be difficult! That's why one of my favourite focal lengths is 35mm - you're wide enough that you're not obviously photographing people in candid situations as the subjects are off centre and they think you're shooting something else.

    Another good tactic is to not look at your LCD after you've taken a photograph. Nothing is more obvious to a person than a photographer looking at his camera just after that person has walked in front of them. If possible, look beyond the subject after you've taken the shot, making it look as if you're waiting for them to exit the scene. Better still, keep the camera to your eye and maybe fire off a shot or two after they've walked by - that'll convince them that they weren't the obvious subject in your shot in the first place. This is something I like to do sometimes as the D700 shutter 'clack' is pretty noisy. Or huff and make it look as if you've deleted the image because some idiot (the person you wanted to shoot all along) has entered the scene and ruined your shot. Or just avoid eye contact before and after!

    If you can see a scene unfolding, then a good idea is to pre focus. If I've got a street scene and I'm waiting for someone to come around the corner and can anticipate their position in the final image, then I'll focus on the area of floor where I'd want them to be. Then if everything comes into place I can click and I'm off. You'd be surprised - you can predict people's paths when they're walking into a scene.

    I like 35mm as it is just wider than normal but also use an 85mm prime as it's not too big, doesn't look like an expensive telezoom, and again people think that they're not the subject of the image. In this day and age a big lens must be good, so a little one, from a reasonable distance, can't be good enough to pick them out as a candid subject - of course it can, with some great shallow depth of field to blur out your backgrounds if required.

    Another 'tactic', if you cannot be discreet - just look stupid! Look like you don't know what you're doing, checking the camera, lens, buttons, dials - everything that makes you look like you've just bought yourself a nice camera and haven't got a clue how to use it.

    And another 'tactic' - print some business cards with your website and e-mail address. If you are approached and challenged, say you're working on a personal project, you're a freelance photographer, and if they'd like to see your website then here's your card. Offer them a print, ask if you can take their portrait, be friendly. If you get challenged to show your pictures or get asked to delete your photos then do so in a passive and polite manner. If you REALLY want, you can still retrieve deleted photos from your memory card, but personally I wouldn't. I've only been challenged once, and that was because I mistakenly took a photograph with a building in the background which should not have been photographed. Security challenged me, I apologised, deleted the image in their presence and moved on.

    So you can be a sneaky so and so, an apparent buffoon, discreet, or a combination of all of the above. And if you see a great face, don't be afraid to ask if you can just take a simple portrait. That will boost your confidence no end.

    NB - these underhand tactics work for me in this part of the world! I know the US has a suing culture but don't come after me if it all goes pear shaped!

    Common sense goes a long way and try not to make yourself vulnerable

  4. #4
    wmoore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Gloucester, UK
    Posts
    314
    Real Name
    Warrick

    Re: Street photography advice

    Hi Jason

    I do quite a bit of street photography. I can tell you it can be a challenge to get over your fear. But the more you do it the easier it is. You need to find a style that you are comfortable with, weather that is using a telephoto lens or taking hip shots or even 'in your face'. Remember to blend in with your environment, use a fast shutter speed and if someone spots you, then smile. Google Eric Kim Photography and also this Ebook is great
    $5 off when you use 'picturecorrect' at checkout. (expires friday I think)

    Warrick.
    Some street shots of mine Here and Here

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Lake Ambulalakaw, Mt. Pulag, Benguet
    Posts
    1,026
    Real Name
    Victor Nimitz

    Re: Street photography advice

    Hi Jason,

    For me, I start off by making it clear to myself my motive/s is simply taking pictures of what is. Not voyeur-ish pix. Bring personal cards( with your name, email or info identifying who you are. Mine has "amateur-photographer" under my name.) which you can give to subjects.

    I ask permission, if possible. Doing so in a smiling, friendly approach. Fortunately, most give their permission.

    Some, ask for a tip. Later on, as you gain experience, you'll get that knack for knowing who/what subjects are prone to this. Sometimes you'll run into subjects who over re-act. Best is to back-off and "by-pass"/ignore the person/s.

    It is very risky to surreptitiously take pictures. Or, in a "james bond-ish" manner. Most government installations also have restrictions. Once, in L.A., I was cautioned by the security guard of a bank, they didn't want pictures taken. Another was a stress-ful situation inside a bus in L.A. I was checking my camera, suddenly,across the aisle, a spanish-speaking lady accosted me for taking her picture. Fortunately, some spanish-speaking passengers explained to her they checked my cam and saw no picture of her.

    Takes time, but you'll eventually know and feel who/what subjects are approachable.

    Meanwhile, just enjoy picture-taking.......


  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,203
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Street photography advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhoads238 View Post
    Hey all,

    I have recently begun delving into the wonderful world of street photography. Its great fun and quite the challenge. However I sometimes feel awkward taking pictures of strangers and a bit of a perv. Its not that I'm taking voyeur-ish photos. I'm just trying to not be a creep. Is there any way to get around that sensation?

    Any and all advice on the topic would be wonderful. Not just on how not to be a creep.

    Thanks

    -Jason
    Jason,

    Look at what other photographers are doing in public. Are they acting pervy or are they just enjoying their hobby. If you don't want to appear suspicious, ask before you photograph. I'd be more concerned about photographing a crime in progress.

  7. #7
    The Blue Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Manchester
    Posts
    787
    Real Name
    Mark Fleming

    Re: Street photography advice

    Jason,

    A good way to overcome these fears is to go out and have a bit of fun at our own expense. Most photographers hate being the main subject (I know I do) so kill two birds with one stone, and start some duels!

    Check out the guy at the bottom right. He asked me to delete the image. Gave me a proper chuckle.

    Street photography advice

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    51°59′N 5°55′E
    Posts
    198
    Real Name
    Toņo

    Re: Street photography advice

    Hi Jason

    Street photography is probably the kind of photography I like most, but I also find it the most difficult. I'm still working on it. I think Phil mentioned very good point to consider.

    I have a few times being surprised by different people, in different countries, that I trying to get a picture on the street, being the main subject a building, a car, some people... and the ones coming close in front of my camera start posing and smiling to the camera What I usually do is take the picture and show them the result. They always walk away with a smile on their faces. Nowadays people are very used to have their picture taken.

    Just keep trying and you'll get better.

    Toņo

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    51°59′N 5°55′E
    Posts
    198
    Real Name
    Toņo

    Re: Street photography advice

    Phil

    Thanks for explaining your 'tactics'. I'll try to use them

    Toņo

  10. #10
    drjuice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    310
    Real Name
    Virginia

    Re: Street photography advice

    Good morning, folks -

    This may not be strictly street photography (which I regard as not requiring permission). But, a while back, I was taking pictures of the streetpianosLA.com project and one of the issues was that parents often let their kids wail on the pianos. But, I really wanted the pianos being played if possible, so how to get the picture of the piano with the current player when it's a kid became the issue. What I ultimately did was to ask the parents' permission and promise to shoot only from the kid's back. I also asked for the parents' email address and sent them at least one image when I got home that evening. I also figured a freebie would be a good deed, so I put a .tiff and a .png image at full resolution on my website and let them know how to download those images so they could do anything they wanted with it. I got very nice thank you notes from about a dozen moms and dads for the picture of their kids.

    v

  11. #11
    Rhoads238's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    505
    Real Name
    Jason

    Re: Street photography advice

    wow I honestly didn't expect to get this many responses. let alone the detail on the topic. thanks everyone for taking the time to respond.

    here's a video I found on youtube that was also helpful

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In5sR-tUhCM

    I have been following this channel for quite some time now. Its great fun to watch and informational. I highly recommend digitalrev.

    I'm looking forward to my next outing in the city to try some of these techniques out.

    thanks again everyone,

    Jason

  12. #12
    davidedric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Cheshire, England
    Posts
    3,042
    Real Name
    Dave

    Re: Street photography advice

    Not exactly street photography, but a lesson learned. Quite a few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of a group touring in Ethiopia. We were just about the first tourists in after the war which led to the secession of Eritrea. As such we attracted great interest - the only time I've ever been treated like a celebrity. As a result, we found cameras (some rather interesting looking kit, as it happens) pushed in our faces from any local press when we were in towns, and it really did get very wearing (it was a pretty hairy tour, but that's another story). Since then, I've been quite cautious about portraits of strangers.

  13. #13
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,203
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Street photography advice

    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    Not exactly street photography, but a lesson learned. Quite a few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of a group touring in Ethiopia. We were just about the first tourists in after the war which led to the secession of Eritrea. As such we attracted great interest - the only time I've ever been treated like a celebrity. As a result, we found cameras (some rather interesting looking kit, as it happens) pushed in our faces from any local press when we were in towns, and it really did get very wearing (it was a pretty hairy tour, but that's another story). Since then, I've been quite cautious about portraits of strangers.
    Good response from the other side of the camera. I do not like to have my photo taken for any reason, or I should say I didn't, but I posed for a marketing shot for my company and the only thing I found annoying was the photographer kept taking photos until he got me to smile. He preferred the shot with the smile over the others. Now I don't mind having my photo taken by strangers, provided I am not doing something embarrasing or could be construed as embarrassing.

    Remember the Senfield episode when he was sitting in his car scratching his nose and his new girlfriend pulled up along side him and thought he was picking his nose.

    Jerry: "It was a scratch, not a pick!"

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    35
    Real Name
    Daniel

    Re: Street photography advice

    Quote Originally Posted by The Blue Boy View Post
    Jason,

    A good way to overcome these fears is to go out and have a bit of fun at our own expense. Most photographers hate being the main subject (I know I do) so kill two birds with one stone, and start some duels!

    Check out the guy at the bottom right. He asked me to delete the image. Gave me a proper chuckle.

    Street photography advice
    So I am totally starting a PhotoKillClub duel with some photo friends. Rules: 1) Photos must be candid photos 2) Camera must be present on the subject 3) Do not talk about PhotoKillClub with anyone 4) Reread rule 3!!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •