You might be in a stage of life where your kiddos are starting to turn away from the camera and you are wondering what to take images of. Then again, you might be in the thick of raising your wee ones, but you want to try a little street photography when you are out and about with your littles. No matter what stage of life you are finding yourself in, street photography is a genre that you can dip your toes into!
That depends on who you ask. Some people live by the definition that although an actual street does not need to be in the image, people do. Others define street photography as showing the human condition whether it has a person in the frame or not.
Most of my images are taken on the fly. I am usually out with a friend and don’t want them to have to wait for me as I set up the perfect composition. I am also often taking the image quickly before the people in the photo know I am taking it. (If you want perfect composition and focus, I would suggest you take the time to venture out alone or with another photographer.) There are times when I ask a person if I can take their photo. When this occurs, I usually say why I want the image; usually it is a big compliment and I spend time chatting them up.
I have been turned down before. It can be embarrassing for a moment. I mean, you are never going to see them again! This has never happened to me, but you might be approached and asked what you are doing and why. Always be polite and take the time to talk to the person. If the person is angry, still be gracious and then move on.
In this day and age, I would shy away from photographing children. I usually don’t photograph our homeless brothers and sisters. Once in awhile I might grab a shot, but I prefer to leave faces out of the image. Always be aware of your surroundings and be safe. I never hide somewhere and try to take the shot, but I do try to look like I am photographing something else if I have not asked permission.
You might ask, “So what exactly do I take pictures of?” I follow my heart. I’m a big fan of the service industry and also just people in general that are out in our world working.
I also love colors, graffiti, and areas of the city that show the culture of the area. Some street photographers only shoot black and white. I love color. I also lean towards grit in most of my image edits. I’ve run several half marathons which means you spend a lot of time training. Being on the street for long periods of time is gritty.
I would suggest the next time you are out to look around and think about what makes you happy. You might not live in an urban area. The curve of a street in a tiny village with someone walking towards a shop could be something that makes you feel at home, and you want to capture that feeling.
When I am out and about, I take my lightest mirrorless; it is not a full frame camera. My 35-100 mm lens is my “go to”. If you are shy, you can always start out with your phone camera until you start to feel more comfortable. Be prepared for obstacles. You might see a shot you want, but you will have to work around other people’s heads or parked cars and parking meters.
Be aware of the laws in the country you are in. I am in the United States, so I can only address our laws. If your feet are on public property (the sidewalk or the street) and the people are in the street or on the sidewalk you are within your rights to take their photo. That being said, I would not take an image of a couple having a heated argument, or of a woman who seems to have had “a wardrobe failure” and has ended up exposing more than she intended. In fact, some states even have laws regarding my last example.
Remember, just because a place is open to the public does not necessarily mean it is a public place. A restaurant for example is privately owned. You can take a photo through the window if you are on the sidewalk. If you want to take photos inside you have to ask permission. In all cases, if you intend to use your images for commercial use then you need permission from the people in the photo. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, just stick to taking images without people.
Street photography is a way to fall in love with your surroundings and the people we share the world with. Have fun exploring!