I see my workflow in three different phases. The first part is the preparation, an idea, a plan, learning how to see, train your eyes and such things. It’s actually everything that has nothing to do with your camera. This means all your thoughts, your reading, your looking for new opportunities and ideas. The second phase is everything with your camera and the processing afterwards until a photo is finished. So you take the camera out of the bag, make the shot, go home, process it and store it on your hard drive. Then the third and most important phase starts. You put your works in the reaches of the Internet. Firstly, they can be shared on the public websites, where many members band together, which are sympathizer photography. Secondly – place to your personal website. I do both of these options.
Having the guts to shoot a stranger in the street is one thing, being prepared to get a shot is another. Often I see people walking around with their camera switched off, the lens cap on the camera. You have to be prepared and concentrated at all times when you want to capture something really stunning. The decisive moment is not waiting until you are ready to shoot.
First of all, your camera must be switched on every moment you are on the street. Camera doesn’t really use a lot of battery power. You have to be ready and this can only be reached by having the camera available. Keep holding your hand with your finger on the trigger. You may have to shoot fast, so be prepared to get the camera to your eye and press the trigger. You may think now this is weird but we are here to shoot and not to walk around. You don’t have the time for adjusting the settings when you see something. The settings must already be set while you are walking down the streets. The direction you are walking is more important than you may think. It’s all about the correct light and good view of your subjects. When it’s bright sun light, you always walk on the shady side of the street. When this is not possible, try to walk with the sun in your back. Never shoot against the light, which will not give a good result. Choose the side of the street where there are more people. I always believe that in a crowd with a lot of people there are more interesting characters. Especially for candid portraits this is important to me. I don’t like to shoot average faces. A face must have something special which attracts me and my camera. It relaxes me when I know that my camera is set up correctly and I can trust it. It feels good when you can be sure that it will work when you press the trigger. You can reach this confidently by practicing a lot and knowing your camera inside out. It’s no secret but, the better you know your camera and its settings, the more you can concentrate on your subjects.
The most difficult thing when shooting in the streets is to be invisible. You have to be aware of is that you don’t look like a photographer at all. Pretend that you are shooting something else. Hang around shooting everything around you. They will think that you are a freaky tourist or someone who is doing some kind of art project with their camera. After a few shots they will not take any notice of you.
When photographers talk about their workflow, they mean the creation of a photograph from pressing the shutter release button to the final print. In street photography and in my eyes this workflow begins much earlier and never really ends. There are so many activities you can do with your work in order to get it seen by the public. It somehow ends when you upload it to your website and share it with your community. But the good photos you may hand in to contests, print to postcards, other people will use in campaigns and so on. When a photo is being created and shared, its lifecycle just begins and the workflow starts. Ideally one of my street photos is being shared around the world that people all over the place can see it, use it, like it, print it, show it to their friends and whatever you can imagine.
After shooting you have to process images, but this does not mean that you are a Photoshop artist and should spend many hours in front of your computer. Keep the processing to a minimum and spend the time you free up with sharing and marketing. You can limit the processing time by creating your own style. This means you do the same type of processing which can be recorded as a preset or action. Then you can just apply this preset to your photos and save a lot of time.
The biggest question for everyone is probably where to start shooting people and from what distance. I started and shoot currently on the street with a full-frame camera, and with only my lens 85mm, getting closer over time. The most important thing is that I wanted to do this from the beginning and I never stopped doing it. When I want something very strong, I know I can do it. Thinking about the result and how I feel, when I look at a good candid street portrait, then I know what to do. Maybe you should start asking people for a portrait first. Then you learn what it takes from a technical perspective to shoot a street portrait. After this experience you can start shooting in a candid way.
Where to photograph can be just as important as what to photograph. When most of us think of street photography we think of big urban cities. But don’t be fooled by this idea that street photography must take place in these big cities, it doesn’t. You can shoot the street anywhere that there is, well, a street. The idea to keep in mind here is to move away from the notion that street photography must feature a random stranger’s face, must feature some elements of a metropolis in the background, and must be in black and white. These are all false. Even if there are such rules somewhere – break them. All good artists have one thing in common – they break rules.
When I go to the city with a camera, it is always very exciting at the beginning. I take a lot of photos in the first hours and then this number goes down and gradually becomes less every day. After wandering through the streets enthusiasm is fading, the camera’s button presses decline. I personally think that this is a normal behavior. You can become fed up with a city and its people. This happens to me everywhere I travel to. You look at the same faces again and again, you shoot similar situations and you even get tired of Street Photography. I don’t even feel much like processing those images during these days – I just need a break from it. But after a few days of break this desire reappears. It’s the feeling, when you want to go out and make some good street shots.