10 Tips for Successful Street Photography

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The essence of street photography is about documenting everyday life and society on the streets. You can find opportunities to practice street photography everywhere and you don’t necessarily need to travel to capture great shots.

It’s a genre of photography usually done candidly without permission and without your subject’s knowledge. However, street photography doesn’t rule out staged pictures. You may spot an interesting character that catches your vision; you can wander up to strangers and ask for permission to take their picture. This is a great way to get a more intimate portrait of someone in his or her environment.

The most important thing with street photography is to have fun and enjoy getting out with your camera. Remember, your goal is to capture emotion, humanity, and depict a person’s character. It takes time to get your shot, but with some practice and patience it is rewarding.

#1: Choosing the best lens

Deciding which lens to use is one of the most important factors for street photography. You may be tempted to use a telephoto lens, but that’s more than likely to result in more harm than good. You don’t want to be that creepy person standing across the road aiming a giant lens at strangers. If you want to look inconspicuous you’re going to need to get up close and among the action. Use a wide-angle lens and get lost in a busy crowd. Many street photographers choose a compact camera that’s less confronting than a large DSLR, the advantages being smaller, lightweight, and discreet.

#2: Camera settings

The quickest and easiest way to set up your camera for street photography is by switching the camera to AV (aperture-priority mode) and selecting your f-stop (aperture) and ISO manually. The camera will then decide the shutter speed (exposure). On a bright sunny day a good place to start is around f/16 with an ISO between 200-400. If your camera displays a shutter speed higher than 1/200th a second you are ready to roll.

Take note of the shutter speed your camera is reading and make adjustments to aperture and ISO accordingly. If your camera is giving you a shutter speed that is below 1/80th you run the risk of a blurred shot, but that could be used for good effect too. To overcome blur simply increase your ISO and/or choose a wider aperture. If you’re new to photography you can always set camera to P mode (program or auto) and let the camera select the correct settings. You can still adjust the EV if you want to over or under expose the shot to your liking.

This is useful if you are shooting run and gun (in a hurry with no time to think), but you have little control over what the camera is doing, so this isn’t always the best option. Program mode does a pretty decent job, but I wouldn’t rely on it in low light where there’s a high possibility your shutter speed will be too slow to freeze the action.

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