I am often asked for tips from photographers new to street photography. And to be honest, I am frequently at a loss as to what to share as there are so many things to consider when trying to create a good photograph, regardless of genre.
Nevertheless, here are 5 things that I feel make it possible for me to succeed whenever I photograph.
One Body - One Lens
I find that keeping my equipment simple frees me to focus more on my seeing rather than on my equipment. That is why my camera of choice for years has been the Fujifilm x100 series. Its fixed-focal length of 23mm (35mm equivalent) provides me a consistent perspective to view the world. I do not have to adjust my zoom or think about switching to another lens. Instead, I zoom with my feet and move my body into the position that is necessary to get the shot. Though I will use more than one camera body for a professional job, I will still try to rely on a single camera and lens combination for most of my imagery, switching only when absolutely necessary.
Get My Settings Out of the Way
Before I have exposed a single frame, I will evaluate the light that I am going to be working under and set my ISO and white balance as well as set my aperture for f/5.6. By evaluating the light and understanding how it affects camera settings, I take care of most of the important technical issues. By setting my aperture for f/5.6 and evaluating what the shutter speed, I can determine what ISO is needed for not only a good exposure, but one that will provide me a shutter speed that is fast enough to counter camera shake. With my aperture at f/5.6 I know what direction I need to go to immediately for a wider or smaller aperture. Setting my white balance with a preset provides me consistent and accurate color for all my photographs, even though I may refine my raw files that later in Photoshop or Lightroom.
Taking care of my body and ensuring the I remain comfortable is essential for me, especially if I know I am going to be on my feet for hours while making photographs. So, wearing a good pair of shoes is key. I have recently embraced the use of compression socks on the advice of a fellow street photographer and they have been a saving grace for me. It makes all the difference.
When I am in a rush or impatient, it is a lot harder to make good photographs. I am too much in my head, rather than focused on my seeing. All that crazy energy is good for is feeding my anxiety and self-doubt. Slowing down provides me the opportunity to focus on my breathing and consequently my seeing. I will linger on a scene for however long I need to make a satisfying photograph or I will just take a break for a cup a coffee or just people watch. Giving myself the permission to miss the shot can sometimes be the best choice for my photography.
Give Yourself Permission to Make Bad Photographs
Trying to make every frame a great photograph is an unsustainable expectation. It was something that I had to let go of in order to make photography fun and enjoyable. Instead, I make the process of seeing and making pictures the priority. For me, it is about being completely in the moment and taking pleasure in the moments of discovery. If I manage to create a picture that captures that feeling, that moment, it is made all the better.
What are the things that you find are invaluable to your process?