I have to admit that I’ve lost a lot of good shots. This happens to every Street Photographer probably always in his life. You have to really learn from these losses and try to figure out why you couldn’t make the shot. There are of course several reasons for a lost shot but there are also several ways to avoid it the next time.
When I miss a shot, I’m always happy in the first place that I have seen the situation. It’s important that we see the things before we can capture them. Then I’m wondering why it happened. Most often I didn’t have my camera with me. Sometimes I was too slow. Sometimes there is something in between me and the subject. Sometimes the person sees me before I could get the shot. Sometimes the settings were not correct. Sometimes the light was not ideal. Sometimes I crop something off by not framing correctly. As you can see, it happens to me and probably often to other people as well. So it’s not a big deal when it happens to you. The bigger deal is that you should learn from your mistakes and should analyze the root cause of the mistake. This sounds now very theoretical but, when you want to get better, you have to understand why it didn’t work out. Street Photography is a lot to do with self-education; if you can figure out and analyze your mistakes yourself, you can improve much faster. Always try to look at your photos from a viewer’s perspective and figure out what can be done better – what did you miss in this photo, what adds something to it, what takes something away – as it’s your analysis which makes yourself a better photographer, not the critical response you get from others. When you listen to others, you will get confused. You have to grow yourself, based on your thoughts, ideas and views about your photos.
Street Photography combines a lot of different aspects of photography. Therefore you could also practice Street Photography off the street. This means you can improve your Street Photography by shooting other things or even that you should become an expert in other disciplines before you go out into the street.
All I can say is that you have to get used to fear and you can practice it. It’s much easier that you think it is. Don’t think it’s harder in your city than anywhere else. Maybe in a foreign city you feel more comfortable than at home. I can confirm, it’s not easier in bigger cities. It’s more or less the same everywhere. Standing quietly people are always easier to shoot. Either at a railway station, at bus stops, a festival or any other place where there are lots of people. Moving people are much more difficult to do portrait, but as a result I like more these dynamic shots, than static – moveless. In order to capture a strong street portrait of a moving person we must have both knowledge and practice. We have in mind to imagine the decisive moment before pressing the button. In Street Photography things happen very fast and are unpredictable. It’s like in sports where you have to observe the game, see what’s happening and look a little bit ahead to capture the action. You have to know where something leads to ensure you get the right shot and of course you have to be quick with a fast shutter speed. There are a lot of different disciplines in sport you can use to practice this. In order to get a good candid portrait, you have to practice portraits. This can be done with friends and family. Be sure to practice outdoors with different light situations. You will learn everything about light, composition and camera settings. Until you know everything about portraits, you should not be on the street and jump into people’s faces.
You need to be sure that you did precise, well-focused shot. In order to avoid disappointment for quality defects press the button at least twice. This doesn’t take more time but is very valuable. I would even go for three frames in a row to be 100% sure. On a candid portrait this feature is priceless as you often only have a fraction of a second of time to get the persons portrait. Therefore you have to use this short amount of time to your advantage, as it never comes back. There is no second chance in candid portraiture. I know that some people don’t like the fact that I shoot people from a short distance straight to their face – that it’s maybe not respectful, not honorable and not compliant with the law – but there is something in such a photo which keeps me doing it. There is this special look in their face, which you cannot get otherwise. You need a fast auto focus, a fast series of frames per second and the guts to get close. As soon as the person looks at you, keep shooting 2-3 frames. It sounds very simple but most people fail by not having the guts. You will realize that shooting 2-3 times in a row will save many shots. You will get better results than by shooting just once. It’s simple but effective.
You train your eye over the years and your ability for composition grows in parallel. Together with an interesting motive and a bit of luck you can do it: the killer shot that gives you goose bumps while looking at it. If I knew how to do it exactly, I would only make those shots all day long. I guess this is why we go out to the streets for; this ultimate one shot wonder, the shot which changes our life, the fraction of a second when everything works out perfectly.
Before you can press the shutter release button, there must be the right moment. At the beginning, this might be a bit difficult to judge, but after a certain time you will know it by heart. You build a certain instinct when you should take a shot. It’s all about practicing and experience. The more you shoot in the streets, the more experience you get. From my personal experience I can say that you will build the right sense for the right moment. You will start seeing things before they will happen. You will know when it’s time to press the shutter release button.
You may take a series of photos in order to get the decisive moment. At least at the beginning you may not be sure when it’s the right moment. Then you keep shooting and decide on your computer which photo is the best. In the digital age this is not an issue anymore.
Some people say that it’s all just luck. Sure there is also luck when you shoot in the streets. But I think that luck comes with good preparation. Sure there is also luck when you shoot in the streets. But I think that luck comes with good preparation. Sometimes I see things while processing a photo which I have not seen while taking the shot. In the end it’s important what is on your photo and not if you have all seen and composed yourself.
There are sometimes cases where you want to be a little more “stealth” when you’re shooting street photography. There are many different ways to be more “invisible” when shooting street photography. Here are some tips and techniques you can use:
- don’t make eye contact. If you don’t want to be noticed when you’re shooting street photography– don’t make eye contact with your subjects. If you don’t make eye contact with your subjects, they are a lot less likely to notice you photographing them.
- get really close. Ironically enough– the closer you are to your subject, the less likely they are to notice you photographing them.
- keep your camera up to your eye. When you’re shooting street photography, the key thing that gives away the fact that you photographed someone is the motion of bringing up your camera to your face, then dropping it. Therefore try this instead: keep your camera glued to your face (eye through the viewfinder) and even after taking photos, keep it up to your eye.
Now I think that street photography has to do mainly with talent and instinct. It’s not something you can learn in workshop or from a book. You have to explore life on the street yourself in endless photo walks and thousands of photos you take. Even then it’s possible that your talent is not big enough to master street photography.
Regardless of how you decide to work, in the end there will always be situations where it will be uncomfortable or awkward to take the photograph – times when most people would shy away – and you must be able to take the photo. You, if you are to be a good street photographer, must not shy away. Anyone can get the easy photograph, but what will distinguish you, in street photography to achieve some results, you have to make that uncomfortable shot – for that reason, exactly these photos will be unique.