Photography in the street has many sub genres. Street Fashion & Portraits, Architecture, journalism, street fashion or even car photography can be considered street photography. Basically we can say any photos taken in the street is street photography.
You have to find yourself in any the topic you choose to shoot. Street fashion and portrait is not an easy, but I really encourage you to throw yourself in 110%.
Ok, sorry. Did I scare you?
Lets go back the time to when I started. I was always interested in fashion. At a very early age I was on stage as a musician. I had to look good on stage. And this has stuck with me all the way to today.
I remember the moment when I was around 26 and my friend searched for stylish men’s outfits and Pitti Uomo came up. I know a bit about fashion but nothing about REAL fashion. Then I got addicted and went deep into learning more about Pitti Uomo and told myself that someday I will be as stylish as the men there. (Pitti Uomo is the biggest men’s fashion fair in the world. Held twice a year in Florence, Italy)
A few years later finally I went to Pitti Uomo and took my camera with me. This is when I started really being interested in photography. And my first approach that I wanted to capture were all the well dressed men around me. Then I searched more for photos on Instagram and found Garconjon and AKS whose photography had a huge influence on me. I walked around the streets. I went to Fashion Weeks from Paris to Milan and I followed them remotely and learned how they work.
Hundreds of street photographers are on the streets during Fashion Weeks. We walk together, but when ’action’ happens we spread out because we need to be our zone. So we are kind of a wolf pack who walks together, but many times alone. I prefer to go out alone so I can really focus what I am doing.
What I love about street fashion photography is that the possibilities are endless. You walk around the streets and look for themes and inspiration, then find one and many times you have seconds to make your frame. Yes, its more like a frame because you have to compose your image. Many times you have to think ahead before you shoot. Like someone walks in the street and you see her/him and how they interact with the surroundings. You may even have to run as you calculate the right spot when she/he arrives the frame.
Many times there is no way to say “hi” or stop your subject. If she/he is far away you may only have seconds in the street to capture the moment. If you warn your subject, the moment will not be there and will be staged. And the beauty of street photography is RAW PURE moment. But as I said, it is very challenging because you have seconds to decide your composition, make the frame, check your settings, etc. There is no second chance.
Also, the Fashion world is a big industry. When the Fashion Season happens, its 4-5 days in a row in one city and then moves to another city or country and the show continues. That means if you are a PRO street fashion photographer who shoots during Fashion Weeks you will be on the streets for weeks! There is a minimum of 8-10 hours walking, running constantly outdoors during this time! (Plus, you have to find place to eat, go to the bathroom, etc.) Sometimes you have freezing cold with all day rain in Paris, and then two days later 40 degree (Celsius) in Florence.
Street Portraits is also a sub genre that I really like. You can find genuine and pure faces on the street. I am always looking for the most interesting faces. I also like seeking stylish people or something that will grab my attention. Don’t be afraid to stop them and ask for a quick portrait. The worst scenario is that they say no and you go forward.
I always try to keep your introduction short. I explain to them in one or two sentences that I am shooting a project and I am a street photographer and ask if they mind if I take a picture about them. My phone is at my hand and if I see a bit hesitation so I can show them my Instagram. It opens a conversation. Doing this makes the subject interested and it gives me credibility as a legit photographer and not a random guy. I also tell them I am happy to send them the photos and ask their IG or email.
I just try to be gentle and polite and ask for a photo. As I said, worst case they are in a hurry and even don’t stop or just say no to you. Keep in mind if they say NO it is not against you. It is totally okay if they don’t want to be photographed.
When they say YES you have only a few seconds to shoot. People in the streets are usually busy and they have purpose to go somewhere. So you have to be quick to take out your camera switch settings etc. Before you ask anything you have to be prepared if they say YES to you. You have to scout your location to compose the image and what will be in the background, etc. Look at the shadows, lights what can gives you a more artistic look. Then ask them to pose naturally. Just straight to the camera or watching to the distance. Then take the photo.
It takes a lot of practice and confidence to master Street Fashion & Portraits. Try to be WITH the street! FEEL the street! Find your zone! It’s like a meditation. Once you get it the world is opens to you and you will take wonderful street photos.
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