I recently got the great opportunity of talking about the things that I’ve learned after 10 years of documenting the streets close (and not that close) to me. It was a great experience to talk mainly about myself, and my relationship with the streets. Today I want to share with you something before jumping over to the 5 street photography projects you could start this year.
I finally learned to define street photography, at least for myself. Here is my definition of what street photography is all about:
Street photography is just one of many approaches to reality.
I want to start with this because if you are interested in street photography, there is a high chance that you’ve been questioned before about what street photography is and what it isn’t.
There even is a term among photographers for this type of people. We call them “the street photography police.” It is important not to get stuck in a definition of what you can and cannot do as a street photographer. And we are here to encourage you to pursue what pleases you the most, and if that is hitting the streets, then simply go for it!
Street photography is a slow paced yet demanding long race with ourselves, and creative blocks are always stalking us to make things harder for us. Today we bring you 5 simple projects that will make get you back on track with your street photos! It doesn’t matter if you are an expert or just a newbie, everyone can try these ideas out!
1. Seek Isolation in Crowded Places
Let’s start with a super hard one, nah, just kidding. But still, it is hard to cope with crowded places if you try to take photos as soon as you get to the place. Calm down, and simply walk around a little, certain scenes will start to appear before your eyes. Try to isolate these scenes by pre-visualization things out, wait for something to happen and don’t give yourself away. Everything looks better when it is natural.
Pro Tip: I love working with wide angle lenses, they enable us to capture complete scenes with rich contexts; however, is not a must.
2. Document a Single Spot
There are certain spots in cities and towns that have a certain appeal; and they are worthy of our patience. Study how light behaves and what sort of people usually relate to a specific place you think looks awesome. It could even be the corner in front of your favorite coffee shop.
This is more a hack than a project, but it could lead to really interesting photography projects with great looking photos. You could document just a single spot, and focus on how light behaves as long as time passes by. And you could also document several places at the same time of the day.
Thinking outside the Box: Nobody likes boring weather, but also nobody likes their cameras getting wet. Manage to keep your camera dry in rainy situations, and you’ll be able to capture some highly unique photos, even of those places that you see as extremely regular for you and everybody else!
3. Emulate the Film Experience
It is not necessary to get a film camera for this, simply limit yourself and you’ll have to figure out some really creative solutions. Try using a “fixed” ISO setting, and don’t change it all day. Do you think that is hard? Try limiting yourself even more with shooting only 36 frames, and that should be it. Am I crazy? Turn your LCD screen off!
How will all these limitations will make you a better street photographer?
Well, it will force you to anticipate the light. It will also force you to stop chimping, and best of all, you’ll in time develop a quality rather than quantity mindset.
Want to go full crazy? Get yourself a film camera. But please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging you to switch over to film, I love digital and it rules. But film photography is an experience every serious photographer should at least try, and not for a purist thing, just try it for the feel, and you’ll know what I mean.
4. Juxtaposition in Street Photography
This is one of those projects that could give you the most striking results if you do it right. Juxtaposition only works when there is a sort of “obviousness” element involved, it could be aesthetic or simply humorous. T
The best way to juxtapose in the streets is by scouting several places until you find elements that workout together. These elements won’t be overlapped and waiting for you, they will require some bold point of view maneuvers and even some luck.
Still having a hard time to understand about juxtaposition?
Maybe the work of this photographer will help you out. You have to keep in mind that Chema Madoz is not a street photographer, but his art is extremely useful to illustrate what juxtaposition is all about. His work is so unique and compelling that for me it even overlaps with a deeper term called “visual rhetoric” in semiotics.
5. Use The Background as a Character
As street photographers, we are easily drawn towards subjects, people and everything that has a “human” element involved, but there is something else there waiting for us.
I’m talking about backgrounds. Mind them in your compositions, and you’ll have absolutely striking photographs. Turning the background into another character of the scene is highly satisfying, and everyone should try it out!
Pro Tip: Spot a great background, measure the light / set the correct exposure, and wait for something great to happen before your eyes. Eventually, somebody will relate to the spotted background, and you’ll be more than prepared to capture the scene as you have seen it in your mind!
A good street photograph is able to stick into peoples mind, and these sort of magnificent photographs happen only a handful of times in our lives. Our main goal as street photographers is to achieve a couple of this, ergo we need to always be prepared.
The energy of the streets and cities can vary from one place to another, but do not forget that your hometown, is the dreamed destination of someone else, never forget about the great things that can happen close to your life!
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