Of all the genres in photography, I personally think that street shooting offers the hardest challenge…why? Because “like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get”….while walking down the street.
Landscape, portraiture, food, are three areas that immediately come to mind that gives you time to think ahead of time about your photo. You have the luxury of finding the location, looking for the best light, and as far as food photography you have total control in the studio.
When I’m walking the streets with any of my fellow photographers that are taking my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops, I’m basically looking for light. If I can find the light, chances are pretty good that I will find a shot somewhere in it.
I have had other photographers that take my online class with the BPSOP submit photos that lack visual interest and can’t stand the test of time. For example, a photo that’s showing someone talking on a phone leaning against a corner with a cigarette hanging out one side of the mouth is not going to stand the test of time; unless something extraordinary is happening. How about all those photos that show homeless people eating, begging, or sleeping on the sidewalk?
Having said that, when you do find some light…light that’s worthy of spending some time with, it’s important to find a comfortable spot and wait for some action; just the way Henri Cartier-Bresson did.
When you do see something or someone approaching the light you have settled in on, don’t be in a hurry to bring the camera up to your eye. Too many times I have seen a photographer do just that only to have the subject veer off. Sometimes it’s either because they’re polite and don’t want to “photobomb” your shot, or they just don’t want to be photographed.
It’s important (and hard to do) to wait for it...wait until the very last minute to bring up your camera.
In the above image, I came around a corner and saw the light hitting just this one part of the building. I thought I would give it a few minutes to see if someone would walk through it. I pre-visualized where I wanted them to be in the light, and I also thought about making sure their entire shadow was against the wall.
I fired off several exposures of the spot I wanted to get the exposure down, knowing I would probably get off one shot.
Well, the waiting paid off. Not only did I get her in the light, but I was lucky enough to have her wearing great colors; of course her looking down the intersection didn’t hurt!!!
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime.
-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban