My Approach to Street Photography

Street photography is a challenge unlike any other.  You never know what you are going to capture and you have to be ready for anything. The spontaneity makes it fun to go out each day and shoot.

So,  how do you choose your gear?  Do you go wide with your lens, to catch more of a view, or do you go with something like a 50mm to get a bit closer?  I shoot with a 35mm lens on an APS-C sensor that equates to a 53mm in Full-Frame terms.  That puts me in standard lens range and it works well for my style, but you may find that a true 35mm suits your eye better.  With image quality being so high on most cameras, you can’t go wrong going wide because you can always crop and still end up with a nice, clean image.

How Do You Shoot on the Street?

There a few ways to go about street shooting: stealth and the open, direct approach.  Stealth is my preferred method since I prefer a truly candid portrait.  I find the honest expression on my subjects’ faces leaves them more open to interpretation.  This lets the viewer open to project their feelings onto the image.  When I am on public transit, I shoot with my iPhone, remotely triggering the camera with my headphones so I can get a candid shot. It’s important to remember that you need to know the law in your jurisdiction regarding photographing people in public. Where I live, you can photograph people in public and publish the image without a release. The direct approach means that you are asking your subjects for permission to take a photograph. Many photographers prefer this method because they want a formal portrait and/or background on the subject.

I don’t like the formality of approaching people for permission.  I am an introvert and this drives my stealth approach.  I apply this near where I live by doing drive-by shooting: I drive in the lane near the sidewalk and shoot out the passenger-side window, capturing my subjects as they walk or wait on the bus.  I  know my camera’s settings and shoot manually (fast shutter speed to override the car movement and a wide aperture to blur out the background a bit, along with setting the focus to a depth of 4 meters).  I love the surprising results and post daily to my Instagram feed @exitframeleft.

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