Starting off in Street photography
By Tim Huynh
Bring Your Camera Everywhere
Here is my number one advice to aspiring street photographers. Always carry your camera with you, have it in your hands or dangling from your neck… Always have your camera with you! Even if you were to just walk across the street to the convenient store to grab something real quick, you never know what may catch your eye and you’ll be sorry had you seen something interesting but you were too lazy to bring your camera. Trust me I’m speaking from experience.
Travel Light…with only one lens…Screw Zoom Lenses
Another note, we all know camera gear can take its toll on us physically especially after a few hours. My advice is to travel light, don’t carry a bulky DSLR with a battery grip attach to it and a gigantic telephoto zoom lens out on the streets. It’s too obtrusive, instead carry a small camera body and with this rule of thumb…ONLY ONE LENS! You may have a set of lens BUT when you go out to shoot on the streets only bring one lens with you. I recommend and prefer prime lenses instead of zoom lenses because of the size and weight (Primes are also give you sharper images).
Understand each lens will serve its own purpose
I usually decide which lens i’ll attach to my camera before I head out, either my 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, or my 135mm lenses. All four of those lenses will create its own magic. If I want to shoot candid shots of people on the streets from a far then i’ll select my canon 135mm f/2. If I want candid shots but be somewhat near my subjects then i’ll choose my 50mm or 35mm. Keep in mind being closer to your subjects will create a different type of photo than shooting on a macro while being several feet back. You are most likely going to draw some type of reaction with the 35mm more so than the 135mm. If I want to go wide and photograph as I walk then I’ll choose my 24mm. All in all, knowing which lens to go out with and the understanding that focal length creates a different magic. But again just choose one when you go out to shoot it’ll make you a better photographer as you can’t rely on zooms or switching lenses to get the shot you’d want, you kind of have to work with what you got and think on your feet.
Avoid eye contact, smile, be confident.
Shoot what you need to shoot, keep your eye on your viewfinder and move on. Don’t look up and make eye contact. IF you happen to do so and the person is looking at you strange… smile at them. If the person approaches you and ask why you took their picture, again smile, be honest, and be confident. When you start off in streetphotography you may feel lost, timid, hesitant or confused. However, from my experiences the more and more you go out with your camera and shoot the more confident you’ll become. It also helps to know what your purpose is. If you are just out and about to photograph things but have no purpose, you may easily become bored, an easy thing to do is to create a personal project for yourself. Maybe you want to photograph dogs with their owners, or taxi drivers, maybe shadows, reflection, different attire from different people.
Have fun in what you’re doing. Know you’re purpose with streetphotography. Ask yourself “Why am I doing this” Why did I choose this instead of maybe wedding photography”…WHY WHY WHY. Once you find your reasoning you’ll have a clearer understanding of your objective. Maybe it’s to connect with people or help you get out of your comfort zone.