street photography

Some of the greatest pictures ever taken have been 'street photography', and it is the area in which many photographers have made immortal names: Brassai and Cartier-Bresson immediately spring to mind, but there are plenty of others.

Girl, Weston-super-Mare

Disregard for a moment the fairy lights seemingly strung through her ears: this is what most people think of when they see the phrase 'street photography'. Even though Roger shot this in the 1970s, it is closer in spirit to the 1930s than to the present day: as the MP Austin Mitchell said, life has been privatised, and you just don't find as many people on the streets any more. Street photography has to adjust accordingly.

Changing public attitudes have made street photography somewhat more difficult than it used to be in much of Britain and the United States, but the truth is that it never was all that easy. Plucking up the courage to stick your camera in the face of a total stranger has always required a modest degree of bravery; the main difference between (say) 50 years ago and now is that you are more likely to be challenged, whether by your subjects, passers-by, or police or 'security guards'. If you are challenged, though, the appropriate response is exactly the same today as it was then: you are a keen photographer, taking pictures for your own pleasure. You can tell them that you are fascinated by local history, that you are documenting life today for the future: ask them if they have ever seen those books of old photographs. If they look as if they can read and write, you might even ask them if they have ever heard of Cartier-Bresson; if they don't, you nod and smile a lot. Or of course you can just run, provided you are confident that your interlocutor is not a plain-clothes policeman who will knock you to the floor and empty the magazine of his pistol into your head.

Palais des Papes, Avignon

This is not, to be fair, typical of our street photography. It is in colour -- we usually prefer black and white -- and Roger used a 15/4.5 Super-Wide-Skopar on a Voigtlander Bessa-L to shoot it, instead of his customary 35/1.4 Summilux on an M-series Leica. But it well illustrates a basic point about street photography. First, you find a good viewpoint. Second, you wait until everything comes together in the viewfinder. Then you take the picture. The film in this case was the late, lamented Fuji RF/RFP ISO 50.

With all of the above in mind, there are essentially two approaches to street photography. One is to work as unobtrusively as possible, so that most people don't even notice that you have taken their picture. The other is to be as up-front as possible, so that they can be in no doubt about what you are doing. Both routes have their merits. We cheerfully use either, according to the situation; and there are plenty of situations where people do notice, after the first picture has been taken, and you can (if you are lucky) get one of each kind.

 

 

overcoming shyness

Some people just want to be photographed, and after a while you begin to develop a sixth sense about whom to photograph and whom to avoid. Frances sees herself as being for the most part shy and hesitant about photographing strangers -- and yet she takes some very successful street pictures of people, usually in the second tradition of making sure that they know she is taking their picture. In other words, she isn't really shy at all; she just finds it much easier to take pictures of people when they know she is doing so.

Monk with prayer wheel, Bir

This elderly reverend gentleman was spinning his sridpa khorlo (prayer wheel) in the entrance to a monastery we visited in Bir, in the Himalayas: a sort of semi-public, semi-private space, not exactly on the street, but in an area open to everyone. As well as taking this picture with a Contax Aria and 100/2.8 Makro-Sonnar, Frances also shot a Polaroid and gave it to him: he was delighted. She then printed the XP2 negative on Paterson Warmtone paper, lightly sepia toned it, and hand-coloured it with Marshall's Transparent Oils.

 

Inevitably, the pictures taken unawares tend to be different from the ones where your subjects know they are being photographed, but this does not necessarily mean that the latter are inferior. There is rather a nice tradition of what might be called 'street portraits', with the subject fully aware that they are in front of a camera, and indeed, such pictures often gain in impact with the passing of time. Someone staring straight at the camera, and thus, by extension, straight at the person looking at the photograph, can have much more of a sense of connexion than the kind of picture where the subject is taken unawares. It is not unreasonable to regard these two approaches as two entirely separate genres of photography, with only one thing in common: where they were taken. So where are they taken?

locales for street photography

The street, obviously, is the starting point for street photography; but (at least by our definition) it is rather more than this. Markets, for example, may or may not be literally on the street -- but they are still street photography. As are fairs, parades, festivals: anywhere that people gather on the street to enjoy themselves. This can range from the paseo, the evening promenade that is so popular in many warm countries (which is why there is no word for it in English), to street parties and kindred celebrations. The great thing about such gatherings is that people expect to take photographs and be photographed: you run into almost no objections, and indeed, your camera may even open doors for you.

 

Musicians, Faversham

Old cars, street music, side-shows; people expect to be photographed at village festivals like this. Be decent, though: put some money in the hat when it is passed around. Frances shot this on Ilford XP2 using a Voigtländer Bessa-T and 50/1.5 Nokton with pale yellow filter.

 

In fact, when we were sorting out pictures for this module, we found that surprisingly many of what we regard as our best 'street' pictures were not taken on the street at all, but in many other places to which the public has free access: beaches, underground trains, river banks, art galleries, monasteries.... These aren't 'street' pictures in the strictest sense but they certainly require the same photographic and interpersonal skills as true street photography.

Then there are the semi-public places such as pubs, shopping malls, circuses. With these, a lot depends on the attitude of the proprietors as well as the patrons. Some post 'no photography' signs; some have a 'no photography' policy, but don't post it; and many have no problem at all.

If someone wants to ban photography on their premises -- Las Vegas casinos are a prime example, but the same attitude prevails in surprisingly many shopping malls too -- then they are perfectly at liberty to do so, but their sole remedy in most of the civilized world is to ask you to desist or to leave: they have no right to demand that you hand over your camera or film. They may however use reasonable force to escort you off the premises if you do not leave willingly.

Arnolfini, Bristol

The Arnolfini Gallery used to be a great favourite of Roger's when he lived in Bristol, and no-one ever made any objection to photography. The best way to find out someone's attitude to photography is usually just to start shooting. If you try to ask first, you may find that people start thinking of problems that would never have occurred to them if you hadn't asked. Nikon F, 58/1.4 Nikkor, HP5 @ 1600.

photographing people

Street photography is normally about photographing people -- but it doesn't have to be. Once you are comfortable with using your camera on the street, to photograph architecture and street furniture and everything else, you can begin to be more comfortable with photographing people. At first, they may be incidental in your photography, but in due course, they can become central.

Riverside, Bath

We hunted out this old picture of Roger's as an example of street photography without people in it: the bicycle is the 'star'. We were quite surprised to find that there was a person in it; which, we think, rather proves our argument that if you are concentrating on other subjects, people aren't a problem.

legality

This is an increasingly vexing question, and of course the answer varies enormously from country to country. Sometimes there are 'national security' considerations that prohibit the photography of airports, roads and bridges. These restrictions are pretty cretinous, as it is very easy to take clandestine pictures that show more than enough for a terrorist or drug-runner, but (for example) the southern Danube forms the border between Romania and Serbia and we were courteously but very swiftly discouraged by the Romanian Border Police when we tried to take pictures of this extremely beautiful part of the world.

Where there is a personal 'right to privacy', it is almost always vague in the extreme. There is rarely a right to refuse to be photographed, though there may be a right to sue if the picture is published -- and publication can include exhibition. There is almost always a right to sue if the picture is used in a defamatory manner. For example, suppose you photograph a provocatively dressed young woman on a street corner in a red light district such as the Pigalle area of Paris, then caption it that she is a prostitute. Well, so she probably is; but she might also be an actress studying a role, or a student on a dare, or all kinds of other things. You need to be pretty sure of yourself before you add the caption -- but she would have a much more difficult job in proving defamation if you just said, 'Young woman, Pigalle', even if anyone seeing the picture immediately jumped to the same conclusion as you.

In most countries there is a right to use any picture for editorial purposes -- 'Street scene, Moscow' -- but you can run into a lot more trouble if they are used for advertising without the subject's consent. One of the best-known examples of this was the elder of a somewhat straightlaced church whose picture found its way into one of the men's magazines. He was water-skiing or engaging in some similar innocently enjoyable activity but the context could easily lead one to believe that he endorsed the lifestyle promoted by the magazine. He won substantial damages.

 

Two women, Pecs festival, Hungary

People watching is a core part of street photography, and it's impossible not to make up stories about people -- but don't put them in print unless you know they are true, or unless the people cannot be identified. Roger; Leica MP; 35/1.4 Summilux; Kodak Elite Chrome EBX ISO 100.

It is however possible to get altogether over-excited about the legality of street shooting, and our own belief is that many people use this as an excuse not to do it, when in reality, it's just that they aren't comfortable doing it. If you are shooting for your own pleasure, or for editorial use, you shouldn't run into problems, with one exception:

children

In Britain, and to a lesser extent in the United States, concerns about paedophilia have exceeded reasonable bounds, and it is increasingly dangerous to point your camera at anyone under the age of about 18 unless you are personally known to their parents -- and even that won't necessarily stop busybodies sticking their noses in, or even calling the police.

Three generations, Weston-super-Mare

For every paedophile who is turned on by this picture, there must be a thousand or ten thousand people who merely find it amusing and rather charming. Roger shot it in the early 70s, probably with an old Pentax SV, but he wouldn't dare shoot it today -- or even take his camera onto the beach.

There are those who say that all this is entirely justified 'if just one child is saved from harm' but of course this is nonsense. Children are harmed and indeed killed every day in traffic accidents. Do we ban cars? No. Young men are disproportionately responsible for motor accidents, for that matter, but no-one seriously proposes raising the driving age to 21. The functioning of society depends on risk assessment, and it is well known that a lot of very remote risks (such as being blown up by a terrorist) are perceived as far greater than they are, while other risks (such as driving) are accepted without a second thought, even though the real dangers are many times greater. At the time of writing, popular assessment of paedophilia had tipped over into something resembling clinical paranoia.

asking permission

There are many ways to do this. The easiest, and often the most efficacious when dealing with adults, is simply to half-raise your camera with a smile. If they smile back, no problem. If they frown, or turn away, or make a 'no' gesture with their finger, don't shoot. This has the great advantage of transcending language barriers.

With children, make contact with the parents and ask their permission. Fortunately this is only likely to be necessary in the English-speaking world, and if you are reading this, you presumably speak English...

Boy with gun, Levoca, Slovakia

A picture like this makes you realize just how mich things have changed. In much of the UK and USA, children no longer play in the streets; toy guns have been demonized; and if you tried taking a picture like this in London you'd probably be arrested as a potential paedophile. No wonder we prefer to shoot in Eastern Europe. Roger took this with a Leica MP, 35/1.4 Summilux and Kodak Elite Chrome EBX ISO 100.

With things like railway preservation societies, have a quiet word with the organizer to make sure there are no problems. If you then give them a few pictures, your welcome in the future should be assured.

Only as a last resort should you seek official permission, as you will often have to do this in writing and explain why you are taking the pictures. On the other hand, on those rare occasions when we have had permission in writing, it greatly speeds matters up if someone starts giving you grief.

getting to know people

A rather specialized kind of street photography involves working for a long period with the same people, until they get to know you. This could be almost anyone: market traders, motorcyclists who frequent a particular pub, re-enactors who go from one location to another, street sweepers, policemen.... The important thing is plenty of feedback and free pictures, especially near the beginning while you are gaining their confidence.

Actually, you don't even have to get to know them very well. Someone with whom you are merely on terms of nodding acquaintance will often be delighted by a good picture, and next time you want to photograph them, it will be that much easier. Even street people, once they have overcome their suspicion that you are from some sort of government agency who is planning to do them down, are often pleased with pictures of themselves, especially with their dogs. Give them a little money as well and you may be surprised at the friends you can make and the things you can photograph.

 

 

Darshan Dairy Mulund, India

It can take a surprisingly short time for people to get to recognize you. After only two or three days in this suburb of Bombay, we were greeted as friends by shopkeepers and others and were welcomed into a Jain religious festival. Of course some countries are a lot friendlier than others, but once you are on speaking terms with one or two people there is a snowball effect and everyone starts to get much friendlier.

Frances shot this in the days when she was still using Nikkormats and Kodak TMZ P3200 (here at 12,500); the lens was a 50/1.2 Nikkor. Today she'd probably use a 28/1.9 Voigtländer Ultron on her Voigtländer Bessa-T or Bessa-R3A. And the film would be Ilford Delta 3200.

cameras and media

Traditionally, of course, street photography was one of the great preserves of black and white, preferably shot with a Leica. To this day, a great deal of the best street photography is still executed in monochrome. While we would be the last to decry tradition, we also do a good deal of colour street photography. It's mostly a question of what you like best, though from our point of view we are also constrained by editorial demands. Fewer and fewer publishers understand anything at all about black and white photography, except for sterile, formalist landscapes aping the style of Ansel Adams. If we can make this website pay, we can shoot more of what we (and our readers) like and less of what they demand. There is also the point that if you want to shoot at very low light levels you can get much faster black and white films than colour.

Couple on park bench, Pecs, Hungary

h1I>This picture would have been much better shot on Ilford HP5 or XP2, rather than converted from a slide (right). The film is 2 stops faster; the tonality would have been better; and besides we just like black and white more. Note the heavy crop: we are not purists, and will cheerfully crop for a better composition. Roger used his MP and 75/2 Summicron.

There is a separate, paid module on low-light photography but it is worth saying first, that with modern fast films, fast lenses are less necessary than they used to be, and second, that with fast lenses and fast films, 'available darkness' photography is entirely feasible. A further advantage of 'available darkness' is that no-one expects you to be able to take pictures without flash, so they just disregard you. It goes without saying that you should avoid both flash and the kind of supplementary focusing illumination that is automatically activated by many autofocus cameras when shooting in poor light, as these are the equivalent of ringing a bell and waving a flag before taking each picture.

To return to the cameras, we do indeed find rangefinder cameras (especially Leicas) to be ideal for street photography, but not for the reasons normally given. Yes, they are somewhat quieter than most reflexes, but this is hardly decisive, and equally, you can zone-focus a reflex just as easily as you can a rangefinder, though it may be a little harder to get used to the out-of-focus image on the ground glass; there is more about zone focusing below.

For the most part, we do not find autofocus cameras reliable for street photography, as they may be difficult or impossible to zone-focus and some will refuse to fire unless they think that the main subject is in focus. We prefer not to have to argue with our cameras.

The three reasons we would recommend rangefinder cameras to anyone are as follows. First, the average person can't tell a Leica from a happy-snap compact: they're all small cameras, and are therefore ignored, but a big reflex -- worse still, a big reflex with a big zoom on the front -- marks you out as A Photographer. Unobtrusive cameras make it a lot easier not to be noticed. Second, our favourite lenses all have 'spur' focusing. That is, there's a projection on the focusing ring that you can move with your finger, instead of twisting a collar. The position of the projection obviously corresponds to the focused distance, and after a while, you can set the distance pretty accurately by touch alone. Zeiss Ikon M-mount lenses have a bump on the focusing ring which serves much the same purpose. Third, most people find they can hold rangefinder and other direct-vision cameras steadier than reflexes: strange, but true. You can even improve your steadiness by mounting a direct-vision finder on an SLR and using that at the moment of exposure.

Cyclist, Minnis Bay

Another reason we like rangefinder cameras is that we find them very quick to use. Roger was out wandering with the then-new Voigtländer 21/4 Color-Skopar on (as far as he recalls) a Bessa-R when this cyclist hove into view. He was moving deceptively quickly but even though Roger had to re-focus (he has been shooting at the closest focusing limit of the lens) it was still possible to get the shot before the cyclist was too far to the left. Obviously this is heavily cropped!

other ways to be unobtrusive

Somewhat improbably, twin-lens reflexes (like the Rolleiflex) have many fans for unobtrusiveness. Because they are not used at eye level, many people do not realize they are being used at all. Also, they are whisper-quiet: a Compur shutter firing, especially at around 1/30 second, makes a Leica sound like nails being shaken in a bucket. And it is quite possible, with practice, to shoot sideways with them: that is, to look down into the focusing hood, but instead of pointing the camera forwards, away from your chest, to shoot to the left or right. Some people find this a lot easier than others: we find it rather difficult.

Yet another way to deflect attention is to use an old (or at least old-looking) camera. Shoot with an old mechanical camera, SLR or any other kind, and if anyone asks you what you are doing, you can tell them you are trying out an old camera: "Look at it! Thirty-five years old, and still works perfectly! At least, I think it does..." At this point, most people will mentally pigeonhole you alongside train-spotters and other harmless anorak-wearers, and leave you alone.

Margate Sands

Roger used a 1960s- or 1970s Zenit Fotosniper for this shot in about 1999: a surprisingly good 300/4.5 lens on an extremely crude and basic camera body, the whole mounted on a sort of gun-stock. His main intention was not to be unobtrusive, but to take advantage of the perspective compression afforded by the long focal length. But of course, working with a 300mm lens means that most of your subjects will never even notice you, and if they do, the Photosniper is such an extraordinary piece of vintage technology that people will cheerfully accept your explanation that you are just trying to see if it works. The same is true of the Novoflex squeeze-focus lenses which we hope to find at an affordable price someday.

Unfortunately, as noted elsewhere, a British beach is probably no longer a place where it is wise to take photographs at all.

inconspicuity through conspicuousness

Paradoxically, you can often get good street pictures by being as conspicuous as possible: a big camera, preferably with tripod. Sure, they will be completely different from the sort of pictures you will get with an inconspicuous camera, and there are some places (especially India) where you will gather such a crowd around you as to make photography impossible. There is also the question of security: unless you are working with someone else, you may make an easy target for a pickpocket or sneak thief, or even for someone who grabs your camera bag and runs, leaving you with the choice of abandoning your camera and tripod or letting him get away.

zone focusing

Zone focusing is nothing more or less than pre-setting your lens at the kind of distance you expect to be shooting, using the depth of field scale to ensure that this will give you adequate depth of field. Pre-set the shutter to a likely speed as well, and with any luck, you can just raise the camera to your eye, shoot, and lower it again without your subject even noticing.

You can refine this technique via the use of 'spur' focus lenses (above), where, as you raise the camera to your eye, you adjust the focus a few degrees one way or the other if your subject is closer or further away than you anticipated. You can even turn the shutter speed dial one way or the other at the same time, so that by the camera arrives at your eye, if it is not perfectly focused with the correct shutter speed set, it is close enough for all practical purposes. The usual advice for negative film, to err on the side of over-exposure, holds good.

Yes, you could rely on automation, but as already noted we have found autofocus cameras less useful than manual focus for quick, unobtrusive shooting: this applies even to the excellent Contax G-series. Auto-exposure is probably less of a problem and indeed Frances quite often uses the auto-exposure facility on her Voigtländer Bessa R3A. The thing about auto-exposure is, it gives excellent results with easy subjects, but is soon misled by those that are out of the ordinary. Fortunately the R3A has a very fast, very intuitive exposure compensation mechanism built in, making it easy to apply the appropriate bias as you raise the camera to your eye.

 

 

 

London Underground

Roger not only zone-focused the 21/2.8 Kobalux (from Adorama) on his Voigtländer Bessa-T but also shot without raising the camera to his eye. This technique can give you some wonderful 'slice-of-life' shots, because your subjects are usually completely unaware that you have taken a picture. This shot seems to us to sum up a certain aspect of travelling by underground: the way that everyone has his or her own thoughts and preoccupations, despite being crowded together with other people. The film stock was Ilford XP2, which is just about fast enough with a wide-angle lens of reasonably wide aperture, even on an underground train.

 

focal lengths

So far, we have not mentioned focal lengths. If you have a zoom, you can use that, but we believe that prime lenses are better for at least three reasons. First, they are smaller and therefore less obtrusive. Second, they are usually significantly faster, though this normally matters only at night. And third, with a zoom there is always a temptation to adjust the focal length a little in favour of a better composition -- and this is time that is wasted, slowing down the smoothness with which you can shoot. Stick with a familiar fixed focal length, in the other hand, and you have a pretty good idea of what the field of view will be.

The classic lens for street photography is the 50mm, and arguably this is the best compromise on perspective and working distance, neither so close that you are pushing your camera in someone's face nor so far that you are no longer engaged with the subject. Frances uses the 50mm quite a bit, but Roger prefers 35mm, which is all but a universal lens for him. After those two come the 75/2 Summicron, which covers about one-quarter of the field of view of the 35mm lens or about one-half the field of view of the 50mm. We both used to favour 90mm more, but the 75mm is just somehow more comfortable, and in addition, it is easier to hold steady.

We would regard 90m or possibly 105mm as the longest lens normally suitable for street photography, principally because of the difficulty of focusing accurately and holding the camera steady with longer lengths. Most photographers we know would agree, but there are always those who feel differently, and even if you have a favourite lens, there are times when you feel like using something else. Roger sometimes uses a 300, either a tiny old 300/5.6 mirror lens or (until he gave it away) his 300/4.5 Fotosniper, as used for the Margate Sands shot above.

 

VE Day, Prague

Until we got the 75/2 Summicron, the 90/2 was our standard long lens for street photography; this was in Wenceslas Square. Here Roger was shooting Fuji RF/RFP ISO 50 in his Leica M4P.

 

In the other direction, going for wide-angles, although 21mm on 35mm can produce violent perspective effects, we are both surprisingly happy with ultra-wides on our Alpas: Roger with 38mm on 44x66mm, the equivalent of 21mm on 35mm, and Frances with 35mm on 6x9cm, the equivalent of 15mm on 35mm. We have also used, on occasion, 21mm and even 15mm lenses on 35mm for street photography, though for reasons we cannot explain we are rarely as happy with the results as we are with ultra-wides on medium format.

familiarity with your camera

Regardless of what camera or lens you use, you need to be able to operate it almost instinctively. If you have to fuss about, taking light readings and fiddling with the settings and then taking forever to focus and compose when you raise it to your eye, you are likely to find it very difficult to work unobtrusively.

But you need to work equally fast if you are making your presence known. If someone has given you express or implied permission to take a picture, you have already imposed on them enough: you don't want to impose on them further by making them wait while you take the picture. Believe it or not, we have actually watched people take their camera out of its never-ready case; remove the lens cap; take a look to see that the lens is clean; install a lens hood... By this time, serve them right if the subject has got bored and walked away.

There is however one occasion when an excessive interest in your camera can be useful: when you want to make it look as if you are more interested in the camera than in the subject. This is a variation on the 'vintage camera' ploy described above: you are trying to make yourself look like a harmless and possibly somewhat witless amateur, rather than a hard-nosed journalist.

 

Bistro, twilight

Even when you are using a tripod, it is as well to work quickly. There is always the risk of people falling over it (or kicking it during the exposure) and there may be other considerations too. Technically, for example, it is illegal to use a tripod on Paris streets without a permit, though the only time we have run into trouble with this (not with this shot) the policeman considerately waited until we had our picture before walking slowly over and telling us that really, technically, we should have got a permit. As far as we recall, Frances shot this with either a Nikon F or a Nikkormat and a 35/2.8 PC-Nikkor on Fuji RF/RFP ISO 50 slide film.

 

home and abroad

We'll be honest: we find street photography much easier outside Britain and the United States, so much so that we had to make a conscious effort to include a few modern English and American pictures (older ones are easier, because street photography was easier then). It's also true that one's ability and taste for street photography can fluctuate, perhaps quite dramatically, over the years: men may find it easiest in their 'teens and twenties, for example, while women seem to grow steadily more confident with age.

We find it easiest of all in Central and Eastern Europe, where people still regard it as a bit of a lark to be photographed, much as they did in Britain and the United States until comparatively recently. Southern Europe tends to be the same; we haven't shot enough in Northern Europe, other than Britain, to be able to offer an opinion. India is great, but there is always the problem of crowds: often, one of us will take the picture while the other distracts the inevitable knot of people that gathers within seconds throughout the whole of the sub-continent, even on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere.

 

Gap, NYC

A reasonably satisfactory composition graphically, and from the point of view of colour, but (we cannot help feeling) somewhat lacking in 'street smarts'. Much as we like New York City (and much as it has improved in the last 20 years, from a nadir in the late 70s and early 80s) we still find it harder to get good street pictures here than in, say, Pecs in Hungary or even Paris. Listen to your feelings on these matters: do not think that merely because you think you ought to be able to get good pictures of a place, you actually can get good pictures of it. Roger used an M-series Leica (probably M4P) and 35/1,4 Summilux to shoot this on Fuji RFP, trueing up the verticals in Adobe Photoshop.

 

Regardless of whether we are shooting at home or abroad, we have a simple yardstick for taking pictures of people. How would we feel if someone took the same picture, mutatis mutandis, of us?

If you were at a friend's funeral, for example, or a solemn religious ceremony, you might not be too happy. But if you were sitting at a sidewalk cafe, watching the world go by, why would you worry? It really isn't hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes, even someone as culturally remote as an illiterate Indian fisherman washing the day's catch. He might be a bit puzzled about why you wanted the picture, and if you were really unlucky he might be resentful that he was engaging in back-breaking labour while you were swanning about taking pictures, but most people don't think like that, fortunately.

the bottom line

Street photography isn't always easy, but equally, it isn't as difficult as some people seem to believe. And the rewards, photographically speaking, can be considerable.

If your discomfort about doing it is greater than your desire to do it, just don't take that sort of picture. But if you really like some of the street pictures you have seen, and feel that it is a genre in which you could do well, then you are likely to have to force yourself, to a greater or lesser extent, to work at it.

As we have already said, begin with fairs and festivals where people expect to be photographed, and work up to 'slice of life' photography. Make the effort: it is worth it. And, as with all kinds of photography, the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better your pictures will be.

Bastille Day (14 July) South of France

In street photography, as in all photography, always remember a simple truth: if you don't play, you can't win. Roger shot this with a 15/4.5 Super-Wide-Skopar on a Voigtlander Bessa-L with slow (ISO 100, Kodak EBX) slide film and a shutter speed short enough to 'ghost' the drummer's arm. Then he adjusted the colours in Adobe Photoshop.

There are many ways the picture could be 'improved' from a technical point of view. OK, so work on improving it -- next time. For now, shoot, learn and enjoy yourself. How much more can you ask from your photography?

 

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