4 things I learnt about street photography this weekend
Street photography is defined as:
a genre of photography that records everyday life in a public place.www.britannica.com
It is also something that I have been drawn to for a while but never really took the time to try my hand at. I love the thought of being able to capture moments in a public space which would have previously gone unnoticed. I find such beauty in holding ordinary moments suspended in time.
So, in an effort to branch out and try different things, a trip to Chester this weekend saw my trying my hand at street photography for the first time. It was semi successful, and definitely a learning experience. As a result, these are the four things I learnt about street photography this weekend.
KEEP IT SMALL
A little bit of research beforehand told me that subtlety is key therefore I ditched my DSLR in favour of my smaller G7x mii compact. It is easy to carry around and more discreet when it comes to taking photos.
I won’t lie, it felt very strange to do. I tend to use my compact as a little point and shoot. In replacement really to my mobile phone which has an absolutely awful camera on it. When shooting images, I much prefer my DSLR to don as a mask to hide behind. It feels ironic therefore that the smaller camera designed to give me a layer of anonymity left me feeling more exposed.
It worked though, and no one gave me more than a passing glance.
Another downside of using my compact is that I rarely take it off auto. I know, I know. It’s awful to admit but like I said, I rarely use it as more than a mobile phone replacement. However, if I wanted to get some good images, I needed to ensure that it was set to manual and my settings chosen in advance.
For my first time out, I kept it simple with an aperture of f/5.6 and at least 1/250s shutter speed. I left the ISO in auto to allow for maximum flexibility when I needed it quickly to catch a shot.
This decision had me feeling a bit uncomfortable as I have always had it drilled into me to keep my ISO as low as possible, but something had to give so I went with speed over noise. Trusting that my little compact was up to the challenge. All in all, I was pleased with the results.
TAKE A STEP BACK
I found that in practice, it was better to start from a distance and go with a more documentary approach focusing on scenes with interesting characters before taking a step closer to just focus on people. I actually loved this approach as it challenged me to think about the story I am trying to tell through an image, rather than relying on close up shots of people to do that for me.
The benefit of course also being that shooting from a distance also allows you to avoid the potential for awkwardness or conflict with the people you are photographing. Yes, I know. Call me a coward but it was my first time out!
LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME
Finally, you can be as prepared as you can be, but the reality is that when you are multi-tasking around children, it rarely ends well. This day the Bear and I were enjoying a girlie shopping trip in the city. We had a brilliant time and I had high ambitions of juggling it all and getting some great shots between shops and coffee.
The reality did not look like that. We still had a brilliant day, but I underestimated just how much time and focus street photography takes. What I thought was going to be as simple as being in the right place at the right time and getting a quick shot, in practice needs a level of focus and perception that multi-tasking with children does not allow.
Needless to say, that my next foray into street photography will be a solo expedition.
I didn’t manage to get many, but here are a handful of my favourite images from my first tentative steps into street photography. Enjoy!