One of my favorite pastimes, especially when I’m in the city, is trying to capture people, and the ‘decisive moments’ they create, on camera. While the end results of street photography are often very satisfying it can sometimes be intimidating to photograph people you don’t know. I’ve never been a prolific portrait photographer but I’ve come to love the challenge of street photography and I thought I’d share twelve of my techniques so you can too!
1. Do Street Photography with a small camera
It’s very easy to get weighed down with loads of gear, thinking you might just need that one lens you’ve left at home. Street photography is one of those genres where less really is more. Henri Cartier-Bresson, perhaps the most iconic of all street photographers, was famous for using a Leica rangefinder and a single 50mm prime lens for almost all of his working life. While it’s not necessary to go to the expense of buying a Leica, his practice of using the simplest of setups is as valid today as it was nearly a century ago.
So what sort of camera should you use? Well, of course, you can use any type of camera for street photography but this is one of those occasions when a smaller camera is a distinct advantage. With a DSLR you have to lift the camera to your eye to take a photo and this can be a bit of a giveaway when you’re trying to take a candid photo of a stranger. DSLRs also have the disadvantage of being large and bulky and, despite the fact that lots of people have them these days, they are still seen as being the choice of the ‘professional’ photographer by many. This can make them intimidating to subject and photographer alike in a situation where you’re trying to blend in.
So what’s the alternative? My personal preference is for a mirrorless camera. I use a Panasonic Lumix GX8 but there are many other brands which work just as well. They’re small and light and it’s really easy to use the LCD screen to compose your pictures rather than the viewfinder which can aid your attempts to blend in. I’ll come to this again later when I deal with technique.
Of course, if you really want to travel light, why not trying shooting with your smartphone? Everyone has one these days and you really will blend in!