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Street Photography Tips

Make the most of the busy streets and have a go at street photography.

|  Portraits and People
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Street photography
Photo by Peter Bargh

Street photography isn't everyone's cup of tea but this type of photography can produce some great documentary style shots that can be gritty or simply just tell a story of what's happening around us. 

There tends to be two ways to have a go at this type of photography and that's to either be bold and obvious when taking your shots or to work in a way where you go un-noticed. The latter is what the majority will probably go for as it's less confrontational and this is where a camera that's more compact in size will become more useful. In the Pentax range the Q7 is small in size yet still offers digital-SLR-quality. The Ricoh GR II works well as street photography cameras, too. In fact, they are the camera of choice for professional photographer Christopher Bissell who in an interview with us said: "I always have a camera with me, and I make sure it's in my hand so I don't miss anything. With my Ricoh GR and 28mm prime lens I can shoot from the hip when out on the street."

If you want to take a support out with you leave the tripod at home and carry a monopod. Although, this will make you stand out from the crowd a little more, plus if shooting from the hip is part of your plan, then a monopod will be made redundant. 

You need your camera out ready so either have it around your neck on a strap or if you have a wrist strap, just hold it in your hand. An advantage of this is that you can have your finger on the shutter-button ready and it also means you can 'shoot from the hip', turning your arm to shoot behind or to the side of you without having to put the camera up to your face. As you can imagine this technique doesn't always produce great results but you will capture the odd excellent shot so it's worth a try.

Another way to shoot is by using your camera's LCD screen for framing rather than the viewfinder. By doing so, it can look like you're checking an image or changing a setting rather than taking a shot. You could also use a wider lens so you can still capture the subjects you want to without having to point the lens directly at them. 

Your other option is to just smile, you’ll be surprised by how many other people simply smile back and let you get on with your job. Don’t stand too far away from people either as they’re less likely to label you as suspicious.

If you are confronted it’s often easier to walk away and find something else to photograph rather than getting into a fight about it and if it’s a police officer who questions you just be polite and answer their questions, you’ll often find cooperation goes along way.

Simply wandering around can get you unexpected and interesting shots but if you have a route in your head that you know will take you to populated areas that have plenty of space to work in as well as interesting scenery; you’ll put the odds on getting a great street candid more in your favour.

You can get lucky and stumble across a scene you just have to photograph but often you’ll find just one element – a person, poster, building etc. That you think will work really well with something else added to the shot. All you have to do then is wait for that special element to come into frame so having patience and a good eye’s key for successful street photography.

When you have your scene don’t just shoot one frame and be satisfied. Make sure you shoot plenty of frames so you can review them when you’re back home – you may find you took a great shot you didn’t even notice when out on the street.

Don't isolate your subject too much as the background/surroundings will nearly always add to the overall composition and give the image it's 'street photography' feel.

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