I have only one piece of advice with regards to becoming a better street photographer: Shoot, Shoot, Shoot. Don’t study the work from the old masters, don’t go into exhibitions and don’t read about photography; just go out and shoot in the streets. Observe the people and what they do, study their life in public and try to document it. Street Photography is the documentation of everyday life in public. It’s nothing more and nothing less. You should spend all your time outside on the streets with your camera and your eyes looking at life and how it is happening. If you cannot spend most of your spare time walking down the streets, you should perhaps look for a different kind of photography. You have to feel the street to capture it. You have to become a part of it. It’s all about getting into the street, shooting everything around you and making a lot of photos. You cannot burn the soul of a person onto your sensor without confronting yourself with humanity. You have to learn a lot about life in public and on the street to really be able to catch such a moment.
At the beginning maybe you will not be able to make good photos. This is normal and you should not be disappointed because of that. Quantity of good street photos will increase over time. Just keep shooting and keep the best shots only. Delete the works you don‘t like or poor quality to keep your mind and your computer clean and lean. Always motivate yourself to take even better shots next time. This keeps you following the right track and you will become better. When you look at your old work you will realize that, out of all your early work, only very few shots are really good. This is also normal. You may even delete some old shots you liked at that time. This is a good sign that you have naturally improved. You will have, perhaps not such quantity of good shots as you would like to do a year, but it’s not the good shots that keep you doing it; it’s your interest in humanity that keeps you walking down the street.
You have two eyes which you should use and train to see the things you want to see. It maybe sounds weird but you have to know what you want to see and then you will see it. Maybe you are wondering what you should wish to see and then you will see it. Maybe you look at other people’s photographs to find ideas. Maybe you just walk around with wide open eyes. The most important skill is to have enough imagination that you can compose a photo in your mind. You will know exactly how it will look before you have taken the shot. With this skill you will also know upfront if it is worth taking a shot or not. Maybe the background is not nice, the light is difficult or you will be too late to get the shot. All of this needs a lot of experience.
A lot of people think that street photography is just pressing the shutter release button at the right moment. For me street photography is a big process where you can make a lot of mistakes and where there are a lot of challenges. I think there are a lot of opportunities to improve your photography which doesn’t really involve the act of shooting itself. There are so many factors influencing someone’s work and the success of it.
In street photography there is only one thing which is really relevant. It’s all about the eye, your eye. You have to see things before you can capture them. No matter what camera you are using, first you have to see what is going on, first you have to realize what is happening next and second you have to virtually compose the photo. Street photography is 80% balls and 20% skills.” – Eric Kim.
Eric is absolutely right with this expression. It’s mostly about having the guts to approach people in the streets taking their photo. Although there are other concepts in the streets than shooting faces, there is nothing more intense than a real candid portrait of an interesting character. There are many characters out there; you just have to see them. Seeing them is easy, but getting them on your sensor much more difficult.