Street Photography | 8 Easy Tips | Tutorials by Subir Basak
Street photography is a form of photography that captures everyday life and human emotion in public places. It is a candid, spontaneous, and often unpredictable genre that allows photographers to document the world as it is. If you’re interested in learning more about street photography, this tutorial will give you a comprehensive overview of the basics and offer tips for taking stunning street photographs in India.
First, let’s define what street photography is and what it is not:
Street photography is not about taking posed or staged photographs, or about capturing grand landscapes or monuments. Instead, it is about capturing the raw, unscripted moments of life as they happen on the streets. It is about telling a story through images, and capturing the essence of a place and its people.It is a form of documentary photography that captures everyday scenes, candid moments and the human condition in an unaltered, raw form. Street photographers may not have a specific social purpose in mind, but they strive to isolate and immortalize these moments.
Did You Know?
This is the first-ever photograph of a human being captured on a camera, taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838. The image, which shows a busy Parisian street, is considered to be the first example of street photography and has since become an iconic image in the history of photography.
History of Street Photography
The history of street photography dates back to the 19th century, with early practitioners using the newly invented medium of photography to document the rapidly changing urban landscape.
In the early 20th century, the rise of the camera enabled the development of new photographic techniques and styles, which led to the emergence of street photography as a distinct genre. By the mid-20th century, street photography had become a popular form of artistic expression, with photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Raghubir Singh and Garry Winogrand capturing candid moments on the streets of cities around the world.
These photographers used their cameras to document the human experience in the streets, capturing the beauty and the diversity of everyday life. Their work has been influential in shaping the way we see the world and has inspired countless photographers to take to the streets with their cameras.
Street photography continues to be a popular and relevant form of photography in the 21st century, with photographers using digital cameras and social media to share their work and connect with audiences. The history of street photography is a rich and diverse one, with the genre evolving over time to reflect the changing world around us.
In summary, Street Photography started in the 19th century, and evolved in the 20th century, mid-20th century saw the peak of street photography with photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand, who captured candid moments on the streets of cities around the world. Street photography is still a popular form of artistic expression and continues to evolve with the time.
Look for interesting subjects
One of the key elements of successful street photography is finding interesting subjects to photograph. As a street photographer, you are constantly on the lookout for candid moments, expressive faces, and unusual situations to capture. In this tutorial, we will discuss some tips for finding interesting subjects in street photography, with a focus on shooting in India.
One way to find interesting subjects is to simply be open to the possibilities that present themselves. Keep your camera with you at all times, and be ready to snap a shot when you see something that catches your eye. This could be a person with an interesting expression, a colorful scene, or a unique moment happening in front of you.
Another tip is to look for subjects that tell a story. Street photography is all about capturing the essence of a place and its people, and you can do this by finding subjects that represent something larger. This could be a person with a unique job or hobby, a scene that reflects the culture of the place you are in, or an event that is happening.
In India, there are endless opportunities to find interesting subjects for street photography. From the colorful saris and vibrant markets to the crowded streets and historic landmarks, there is no shortage of inspiration. Consider visiting local festivals or events, which can provide a wealth of interesting subjects and scenes to photograph.
Another way to find interesting subjects is to simply observe and pay attention to your surroundings. Look for people who are engaged in an activity, or who have an interesting expression or gesture. Look for patterns, textures, and colors that catch your eye. And be on the lookout for unexpected moments and situations that can make for unique and memorable photographs.
Pay attention to the background
In street photography, the background can often be just as important as the subject itself. A cluttered or distracting background can ruin an otherwise great photograph, while a well-composed background can add depth and context to the image. In this tutorial, we will discuss some tips for paying attention to the background in street photography, with a focus on shooting in India.
One of the key elements of a good street photograph is a clean and uncluttered background. A cluttered or busy background can distract from the subject and make the image difficult to read. Instead, look for backgrounds that are simple and uncluttered, or that have a clear and cohesive element that ties the photograph together.
One way to achieve a clean background is to use a wide aperture and shallow depth of field. This will allow you to throw the background out of focus, which can help to separate the subject from the background and create a sense of depth in the image.
In India, there are endless opportunities to find interesting and varied backgrounds for street photography. From the colorful markets and bustling streets to the beautiful temples and historic landmarks, there is no shortage of inspiration. Consider visiting local festivals or events, which can provide a wealth of interesting backgrounds and scenes to photograph.
Another way to find interesting backgrounds is to simply observe and pay attention to your surroundings. Look for interesting textures, patterns, and colors that can add depth and context to the photograph. And be on the lookout for unexpected moments and situations that can make for unique and memorable photographs.
In conclusion, paying attention to the background in street photography is all about finding clean and uncluttered backgrounds, using the right light, and being open to the possibilities that present themselves.
Experiment with angles
Experimenting with different angles is a key element of successful street photography. By changing your perspective and the way you frame your shots, you can create unique and compelling images that capture the essence of a place and its people. In this tutorial, we will discuss some tips for experimenting with angles in street photography, with a focus on shooting in India.
One way to experiment with angles is to get low. Shooting from a low angle can give your photographs a sense of energy and dynamism, and can also help to create a sense of intimacy with your subject. This can be especially effective for shooting candid portraits or capturing the energy of a crowded street scene.
Another tip is to play with symmetry and reflections. Street photography is all about capturing the unexpected, and reflections can be a great way to add interest and depth to your images. Look for reflective surfaces, such as windows or puddles, and experiment with shooting from different angles to create unique and striking compositions.
In India, there are endless opportunities to experiment with angles in street photography. From the crowded markets and busy streets to the beautiful temples and historic landmarks, there is no shortage of inspiration. Consider visiting local festivals or events, which can provide a wealth of interesting subjects and scenes to photograph.
Another way to experiment with angles is to simply be open to the possibilities that present themselves. Keep your camera with you at all times, and be ready to snap a shot when you see something that catches your eye. Don’t be afraid to move around and change your perspective, and be open to experimenting with different compositions and techniques.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun. Street photography is all about capturing the raw, unscripted moments of life, and the best photographs often come from taking risks and trying new things. So go out and experiment with angles, and see what kind of unique and compelling images you can create.
Use available light
Street photography is a popular and challenging form of photography that involves capturing candid and spontaneous moments in public spaces. One of the key challenges of street photography is finding the right lighting to bring out the best in your subject. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to make the most of available light in your street photography.
One technique is to use the time of day to your advantage. Early morning and late afternoon are often referred to as the “golden hours” in photography because the light is soft and warm, providing a beautiful and natural illumination for your subjects. Shooting during these times can help you capture stunning images with minimal additional lighting.
Another technique is to pay attention to the direction of the light. Look for subjects that are backlit or sidelit, as this can create interesting shadows and contrast in your images. You can also use reflections to your advantage, such as shooting through windows or mirrors to add depth and dimension to your photos.
Another way to use available light in street photography is to embrace the shadows. Don’t be afraid to shoot in low light conditions or to use shadows as a compositional element in your images. This can add a sense of mystery and drama to your photos and help you capture a mood or atmosphere that might be lost in brighter light.
Finally, be mindful of the color temperature of the light you are shooting in. Different types of light sources have different color temperatures, and understanding how to balance these can help you create more cohesive and aesthetically pleasing images.
Overall, the key to using available light in street photography is to be aware of your surroundings and to be creative in how you use the light that is available to you. By experimenting with different techniques and taking the time to understand the properties of light, you can create beautiful and unique images that truly capture the essence of street photography.
Get close to your subject
In street photography, getting close to your subject can be a powerful way to capture intimate and candid moments. By physically positioning yourself closer to your subject, you can create a sense of intimacy and connection in your photos that can be difficult to achieve from a distance.
However, getting close to your subject is not just about physically moving closer. It’s also about finding ways to connect with your subject and to capture their essence in your photos. This can be achieved through techniques such as:
Making eye contact with your subject: This can help you create a sense of connection and engagement in your photos.
Capturing facial expressions: Pay attention to the emotions and expressions on your subject’s face, as these can add depth and meaning to your images.
Using body language: Look for gestures and body language that reveal something about your subject and their personality.
Filling the frame: By getting close to your subject and filling the frame with their face or body, you can create a sense of intimacy and focus in your photos.
Of course, getting close to your subject also requires a certain level of comfort and trust. Respect your subject’s personal space and be mindful of their feelings. If you are unsure about approaching your subject, try using a telephoto lens or zooming in to get closer without physically getting too close.
Overall, getting close to your subject is a powerful way to create intimacy and connection in your street photography. By using techniques such as eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and filling the frame, you can capture the essence of your subject and create meaningful and impactful images.
Take candid shots
Candid shots are a key element of street photography, capturing spontaneous and authentic moments in public spaces. Candid shots often showcase real human emotions and behaviors, adding a sense of realism and honesty to your images.
To take candid shots in street photography, it’s important to be stealthy and to blend in with your surroundings. This can help you capture candid moments without drawing attention to yourself or disrupting the scene. Techniques such as using a small, discreet camera or shooting from the hip can help you take candid shots without being noticed.
It’s also important to be alert and to have a good sense of what is happening around you. Pay attention to your surroundings and look for interesting moments or gestures that reveal something about the people or the place you are photographing.
In addition, be patient and wait for the right moment to take your shot. This can mean waiting for the right facial expression, gesture, or composition to appear. Trust your instincts and take the shot when it feels right.
Finally, be respectful of your subjects and their privacy. While candid shots can be powerful, they can also be intrusive if not done with sensitivity. Be mindful of your subjects’ feelings and be prepared to delete any shots that may be inappropriate or that your subjects may find offensive.
Candid shots are an essential element of street photography, capturing spontaneous and authentic moments in public spaces. By being stealthy, alert, patient, and respectful, you can take powerful and impactful candid shots that truly capture the essence of street photography.
Use your eyes with heart
In street photography, using your eyes and heart to compose your shots can help you create unique and personal images that truly reflect your vision and emotions.
One technique is to replace the viewfinder with your eyes and use your heart to guide your compositions. Instead of relying on the technicalities of your camera, try using your instincts and emotions to guide your compositions. This can help you create more personal and meaningful images that capture your perspective and vision.
Using your eyes and heart can also help you find new and unique perspectives in your street photography. Instead of sticking to traditional compositions, try stepping back or getting closer to your subject, or shooting from unusual angles. By doing so, you can create images that stand out and that showcase your unique perspective.
Another way to use your eyes and heart in street photography is to pay attention to the light and the colors in your scenes. Look for the way the light falls on your subjects and use it to create contrast, depth, and mood in your images. Similarly, look for colors that catch your eye and use them to add interest and depth to your compositions.
Finally, be open to the unexpected and be willing to take risks in your street photography. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to shoot something that may not seem “perfect” according to traditional photography rules. By doing so, you can create images that are truly unique and that reflect your personal vision and emotions.
Overall, using your eyes and heart in street photography can help you create unique and personal images that truly reflect your vision and emotions. By using your instincts, finding new perspectives, paying attention to light and color, and taking risks, you can create powerful and meaningful images that stand out in the world of street photography.