- Camera – If you take a DSLR just take one lens but don't take a zoom or one that's too long as this will just make you stand out and generally you'll have to point this type of lens directly at someone which will give the game away. Carrying more than one lens around could make you a potential target for a thief too. If you can, take a smaller camera along as this will make you more discreet.
- Wide-angle lens – A wide angle lens will mean you can take a photo of someone without actually having to point the lens in their direction. You cam pretend you're photographing something near by, ensuring your subject is still in frame. You can then keep the whole shot or crop in later when you're back in front of your computer.
- Camera bag – you don't always need one but they are handy to carry spare memory cards, lens cloths and other accessories in. It'll also keep your camera safe and free of dirt/dust when you've finished your shooting for the day too. You don't want to carry something too big and if you can, make sure it doesn't scream: 'camera bag'. Manfrotto's Nano II pouch from their Stile range is designed for high-end compacts while their Veloce V backpacks are more fashioned orientated so they don't automatically make passers-by think you're carrying photography gear. They also have a top opening which means you don't have to open the entire bag while out on the street.
Don't be over cautious
It's a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you but this doesn't mean you have to think everyone is out to take your equipment off you. Taking photos of strangers in the street when you've not done it before may make you nervous but most of the time, if you blend in and don't make it obvious you're taking photos, people won't even notice. If they do see you with your camera and pull an odd face at you just smile! You'll be surprised how many times they'll just smile back and move on. If you do find some resistance don't argue, just explain to them what you're doing and if they're still unhappy just move to a different location. Trust your instincts when this happen as generally they're right!
When you get your location take a couple of test shots and tweak your settings so you don't have to fumble around with your camera when you only have a few seconds to take your shot. You will still have to make small adjustments so having an idea in your head of what settings work for places that are shaded, in full light or are dark will mean you can work quicker.
Have your camera out ready and you may find it easier to work with in your hand rather than on a strap around your neck. One, this will make it less obvious you're taking photographs and two, it means you can have your finger on the shutter button ready. If you're worried about the camera falling out of your hands, buy a wrist strap and slide it over your hand to keep the camera in place. This also means you can walk with the camera at your side and shoot from the hip. This makes it less obvious that you're taking photographs as you can turn your arm to shoot behind or to the side of you without actually moving the rest of your body. It can be a little hit and miss but with a wider lens attached to your camera, you'll be able to capture more in your frame at once, increasing your chances of snapping something good.
Some photographers like to get rather close to subjects but this takes guts and it might not be something you want to try when you're first attempting street photography. Although, sometimes if you work close enough to a person it can fool them into thinking you're photographing someone or something else that's actually behind them. You can always shoot further back and just crop out the detail you don't want in shot later. Remember, filling the frame with interesting detail is important so you'll probably find the Crop tool gets used quite a lot after a few hours of shooting on the street.
If you know of a few locations which are popular with photographers or tourists head there for your first assignment as you'll blend in and you won't have to worry abut people wondering what you're up to. Do be warned though, they can get busy and people will walk through the middle of your frame. If they keep passing through the background of your shot just snap the same scene a couple of times and follow our previous technique on removing people from photos to fix your shot.
Your other option is to go to an interesting location, find an angle you know will work for a photo and just wait for the right subject(s) to work into frame. Patience is the key with this one as it can take a while but the wait will pay off eventually.
Where possible you will need to take your shots when you're still to stop camera shake but if you do find your shots are a little blurred or out of focus, it can actually add interest and really work with some shots. If you've turned your ISO up as you're working in low light and the shots are a little grainy don't think you have to delete them as a little bit of grain can work well in shots that are black & white. You might want to consider adding a frame or a slight vignette to guide the eye to a particular part of the image too. If you find your shots were all taken at wonky angles just take the time to look through them as sometimes not shooting straight on can add interest and give a scene more feeling.
Find the tripod to suit your needs at www.manfrotto.co.uk.