One of the genres I like to shoot within the massive art of photography is “street” or urban photography. I enjoy the different elements of the street environment it is possible to capture.
Street photography offers vast contrast between light and shade, reflections with texture in different buildings ranging from new mirrored constructions to weathered old ancient churches. The list of contrasts is endless. In addition you can capture all of life going about their daily lives.
The following are my top 10 tips when shooting sheet photography. I use them all constantly use when I am shooting in a city or built up urban area. I hope you find them useful when photographing in the cities of the world.
- Know the law and legal powers of the country and city you intend to shoot in. 5 minutes spent on Google can save you a lot of bother when confronted by site private security or a police officer, you would be surprised how much we are allowed to shoot at and from. Knowledge is power.
- Use your smallest camera body and lenses. If this is your mobile phone then amazing images can be caught from them nowadays, nothing brings on public confrontation more than shoving a 200 mm lens into someones face as they are late for work or on a lunch break.
- That said no image is worth a black eye! Be fully prepared to delete an image that may offend anyone that asks you to (although you have no legal requirement to unless arrested for an indictable offense by a police officer in uniform) its not worth the hassle or eliminating your chances to return at a later date.
- Think of the story you want to capture and tell. Taking images of people is one thing but using them to create a story for the viewer to think about is another.
- Consider both black and white and colour editing, textures and impactual contrast can be more pleasing to the eye when in black and white.
- Pack relevant filters to combat bright sunlight and reflections as this is magnified with light tarmac and concrete.
- Use graffiti, piles of rubbish, skips etc. as backgrounds of interest to highlight your human subject walking into the frame. It is more pleasing to have a subject entering your composition than leaving it.
- Use the wet weather to your advantage, puddles are great to use for reflections. Use your feet to move and your knees to get the best compositions possible.
- Play with your shutter speeds and panning your camera with motion of traffic, cyclists and people walking fast.
- If you have the confidence ask subjects to pose for portraits, pick interesting faces, young and old, rich and poor, attractive and ugly! Be honest and explain what you are doing and offer them a copy of your capture as a gift for their time.
I am a professional photographer based in Reigate in Surrey. Please feel free to check out my portfolio that includes many of my street life photos.