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A Quick Overview: Street Photography

Alright fam! Today I want to talk about one of my favorite forms of making, photography. More specifically street photography.

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What IS street photography?

In my opinion street photography is one of the purest forms of human creativity, not only does it reflect the true human nature around us but maybe even more so that of the photographer.

A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it.
— Canon

In is simplest form street is going to a metro area, and exploring, sharing, and documenting the things and people you see. There are a few ways to do this, as some choose to find a spot and wait for the right moment, some are people watchers and wait until they do something interesting, and still others focus more on the architecture. By no means are these ALL the ways photogs “get the shot” but just a few. Now lets talk about the geeky part.

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What gear do you need?

The gear you USE for street changes depending on your goal and experience, however the gear you NEED never does. You only need a camera, that’s it!

[the best camera is the one you have with you
— Chase Jarvis

While it may sound like an over simplification it really isn’t. It’s important to remember that all visual arts are either about story telling or expression of emotion. To that end the camera you use is just a tool. Tha tool can be a cell phone, a DSLR a pinhole camera, anything that lets you express yourself or tell a story. Photography is about feeling.

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But what gear do you actually need

for street photography?

Although you don’t need any of this it can expand your capabilities and help you get a wider variety of shots. That gear is:

  1. Your camera, the more inconspicuous the better, but anything from a DSLR to your phone will get the job done!

  2. Comfy shoes, I cannot stress this enough and have set it as second on this list for that reason, if your shoes hurt, you are going to have a bad day.

  3. A good tripod, this is one of those items where you need to be willing to buy something nice, it doesn’t have to be a Manfrotto but if you go with a $50 tripod you will regret it.

  4. A small camera bag, preferable an anti-theft bag such as the Peak Designs Everyday 10L Sling. This will not only help you worry about getting the shot and not if your gear is safe it is supper handy for also carrying additional SD cards, batteries, lenses and even a packable rain jacket.

  5. Extras, you say this coming right? Anytime you go out to shoot you should have extras, extra batteries, SD cards, snacks etc.

  6. Finally some things I recommend for street are a large bottle of water, to pour on the ground and get some cool reflection based shots. Sunglasses are never a bad idea. Also, a friend! Having people with you that are also photographers or are at least willing to be impromptu models is great!

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How do you get great street photography shots?

The easy answer is to just go out and take pictures of cool things, but you and I both know it is never that easy. The actual answer is be an observer and explorer, take public transit, walk everywhere, wait at crosswalks. You never know what things might strike you or what you might notice about an intersection that you normally blow through in the car. Give plenty of thought to what you want to capture, and how. Do you want to get interesting pictures of people living their every day lives, or is architecture more your jam? I’m not saying you have to choose but shoot with a purpose, don’t just run around with your camera on high speed shutter and hope you get a good shot. Sit down at a street corner or a coffee shop, think about a composition you might like from that spot, then when someone interesting walks into that composition, get the shot. Don’t be afraid to wait and try to get over your fear of taking pictures of people, talking to them can help, tell a joke, ask how their day is. Don’t be afraid to be a part of the human element that many street photographers desire to express in their pictures.

Thanks for reading.


Still here? Please share this with your friends, then get out and make something!