I am often asked: ‘Paul how did you start street photography? The answer is quite simple! I was looking for combining my hobby, photography, with my home life , without one interfering with the other. The result was that I took my camera with me during my lunch-break walks. Et voilà, mission accomplished. but the start wasn’t as simple as thought! And I wish that someone told me the 5 things you should know before you go out to start street photography.
1) Street photography is time-consuming
First of all, street photography is very time-consuming. I walked maybe thousands of kilometres in the last 6 years since I started “street” in late 2011. To become a good street photographer you have to go out as often as possible. You have to spend hours and hours watching people and getting this special feeling to foresee the decisive moments. After 6 to 12 month you will get that special feeling for these decisive moments showing up in front of you! Which leads us to the second point….
2) you are not going to take good pictures right away
Your first 10000 photographs are your worst, said Henri Cartier-Bresson. He may be right, because you have to learn everything from scratch! Composition, overcoming your fear, your camera, the sun, the clouds, the behaving of your subjects. And you have to deal with all of this at the same moment to get the best, the decisive moment you want to take your picture! Your first pictures will be totally crap! But they will become better and better, the more you go out to shoot! Don’t give up and keep going! Which bring the first point back. It’s very important that your pictures tell a story. They have to trigger an emotion among those who look at your pictures. Fear, fun, anger. If your audience connects with the people in your pictures, bingo! Then it’s a good picture!
3) gear is not important
Your phone or a Leica! The camera doesn’t matter as long as you have full control over it and know what you are doing and what you can do with it! That’s why it is important to focus on one camera and even one lens! If possible a prime lens with fixed focal length. 28mm or 35mm. Your camera will become a part of your body! We will become an expert with your camera model and lens. You will understand every single button on it and know exactly what you will do next.
4) good weather is not necessary good weather for street photography
Good weather is boring as hell! (thats my personal opinion as I am shooting black and white) On the other hand, cloudy or rainy days are perfect for street photography. I really enjoy all the reflexions on the ground after a rain shower. It’s way easier to get an interesting sky on a cloudy day. But all this form a black and white photographers point of view! For colour shooters this might be a bit different.
5) don’t take pictures on eye level
Move around, lie on the floor, get on your knees, but don’t take boring pictures on eye level! If you don’t want your pictures to look like vacation pictures, then take pictures from uncommon angles. Yes, street photography is a sport!