Last month I echoed the question first posed by Popular Photography: “How do you photograph strangers in the street”? In that post, I shared an article from the magazine that featured two photographers whose street shooting style was pretty much run and gun, and smack dab right in the face of their subjects. In response to their approach, the comments and emails from our readers ranged from shock to acceptance to “I don’t shoot strangers”.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some photogs use a more considerate approach, first engaging the person and striking up a conversation, then asking permission to take their photo. Mark Wallace of Adorama takes this approach and shared his views and experience in a ten minute video you might like to watch here.
Instead, I’ve developed a shoot from the hip, or should I say “shoot from the chest” approach that works pretty well with practice, is not intrusive and generally yields positive results.
With the strap of my DSLR around my neck, I hold my camera in my right hand at about chest height, with my thumb on the shutter release. As I walk casually through an area, I aim and shoot from that position at anything that looks interesting. I keep on moving, looking away from the subject, and if I’m noticed, I’m gone and forgotten before anyone gives it a second thought.
All of the photos in this post were taken this way.
Since you’re essentially shooting blind, your camera needs to be set up appropriately for the scene if you’re to get any keepers. I generally shoot at a wide focal length, somewhere between about 18 and 30mm on a cropped sensor, with metering set to matrix (aka evaluative). The level of light will determine my ISO, (the less light, the higher the ISO). I will most often shoot in aperture priority with as small an aperture (higher f/ number = larger depth of field) that I can achieve and still maintain a fast enough shutter speed to accommodate the movement of the subjects, as well as myself. Some testing and adjusting is usually needed when I get started.
Of course, if and how you shoot on the street is totally up to you. This works for me and I try to be respectful of the people I’m shooting. Personally, I won’t photograph homeless or vulnerable people or children under any circumstances.
Let us know your thoughts on street photography and what works for you. Send us your street images and we’ll include them in a follow up post.
And thanks for visiting 2 Guys Photo. Posted by Ed