Street photography really is as simple as taking a camera out for a walk with the intention of recording life as it happens, which is freeing, exciting and slightly terrifying in equal measures! Some of the most celebrated photographers in history made their names through street photography, which is no surprise because no other genre has the same sense of immediacy and realism.
There are no hard and fast rules for street photography. Some photographers use DSLRs coupled with long telephoto lenses, others with a 35mm/50mm prime attached, and still others prefer to use the smallest camera possible, so that they can get in close to the action without being noticed – the choice is yours.
The pros and cons of your choices
We’ll run through what we believe are the pros and cons of all of these choices. Firstly pros of the DSLR and telephoto approach:
- Being further from the action is great if you’re shy
- You can observe and record without your subjects noticing you and adjusting their behaviour for the camera
- Image quality is likely to be optimal
And the cons of this approach:
- Your subject may not notice you, but everyone else will, which can lead to unwelcome attention
- Shooting from a distance can feel a bit voyeuristic
- A day out carrying a DSLR and telephoto lens will be hard work!
So what about if we ditch the telephoto and attach, say, a 50mm prime instead? The pros would be:
- Great image quality again
- Closer to the action makes it easier to engage with your subjects
- All the great masters used primes so you should too!
And the cons?
- You still have that big camera, which can make people nervous
- You might still feel self-conscious because of the size of your camera – something that can ruin your chances of taking great pictures
Maybe a DSLR isn’t ideal after all. Let’s take a look at the pros of something like a CSC or high-end compact:
- Excellent image quality
- Lightweight for effortless shooting
- Can easily shoot from the hip in stealth mode
- Totally unobtrusive shooting – nobody notices a compact camera!
- Easy to shoot fast and loose with the LCD screen
- Choose a Fuji and you’ll look uber cool!
Wow, that sounds great! Are there any cons? Let’s see:
- You have no choice but the get in close to your subject
Really? That’s it? Yes. High-quality compact or CSC cameras are the perfect weapons for street photography, but you will have to overcome your fears to get in close enough to shoot vibrant and engaging images.
Next time we’ll explore some of the methods you can use to become a fearless street photographer...