Street photography is all about capturing emotion, gestures and interesting moments that tell a story. One of the biggest things I myself couldn't wrap my mind on was taking photos of strangers head on, face to face maybe 2-3 feet away from them. It's nerve-racking going up to a stranger with a camera and taking a photo of them. That was until I learned about the importance of interacting with your subject. I think one of the biggest misconceptions in street photography is that you have to be discrete 100% of the time and be super stealthy so no one notices you but some of my best Images come from when I interact with the subject.
Conversing with your subjects
Ever since I learned to converse with my subjects the ease of taking photos of people became a whole lot easier. It puts you in a good mood and also takes some pressure off of the subject as well. maybe ask them about their day or find a particular feature they possess whether it be a clothing item, or tattoo just find something. This is what I refer to as defusing the bomb because when your out in the street and you walk up to a person with a camera and start snapping away the subject will automatically think you're creepy. To combat this issue find something interesting about them and compliment them. A lot of my shots start with a compliment, "hey man I like your hat, do you mind if i take a photo of you?" Or compliment their natural beauty, if someone is good looking be polite and compliment their hair, beard, or maybe their eyes because 99% of people on the street like compliments and its an easy way for you to interact and also snap a good photo of them.
Create Your Own Gesture
When someone directs their full attention into whatever their doing an easy way for you to distract them for a photo is to simply create your own gesture. The photo you see in the beginning is of a man working at a pizza shop who is fully indulged with his work assembling boxes. A simple hand wave got his attention and I was able to take the shot with a big smile on his face. Creating your own gestures in street photography are extremely useful for a number of reasons. The first one being that you are capturing the attention of your subject. Wait till they make eye contact with your camera as it will create more dramatic tension in your photo. Second, some people will monkey see monkey do and copy exactly what you're doing when holding a camera. This can make for some very interesting shots.
Remember to Smile
I'm typically a happy person and so smiling is natural but there are days where I don't feel to happy and I forget to smile. This is a BIG contributor to how your street photography adventures play out. The more you smile, the easier it will be to interact with subject which will then lead you to creating better photos. Smiling lightens up the mood and also creates a positive vibe. It's all about finding your groove and riding that track all the way down but if you're not smiling you'll hit little bumps (upset people) that will slow you down and can ruin your day. The psychological effect smiling has on the human brain ultimately relieves pressure and tension so using this to your advantage is almost like the scret tool to creating better photos.
Things to Avoid
- Avoid lying about taking a photo of someone or not. If they catch you in the act or ask you to delete it, just do so. Respect your subjects and put yourself in their shoes.
- Avoid making direct eye contact before a photo. Once they see you with a camera they become more aware of you. If you do end up making eye contact, smile and makybe ask for permission.
- Avoid photographing people who are clearly not up for a photo being taken of them.
- Avoid looking suspicious and creepy, have fun with street photography, ineract and meet new people but also be as transparent as possible. The more closed off you are, the more a person will suspect of you and the last thing you want to be in the street is the creepy guy/gal with a camera.
Lastly when shooting street photography the best way to be comfortable is to be positive. Smiles, interactions, compliments will all help you get the GOOD attention and not the bad and will unlock the ability for you to take more meaningful photos. Capture this emotions, those gestures but be transparent about what you do and find that groove to carry you along the day out shooting. Remember to smile and maybe ask your subjects every now and then to take a photo of you so their discomfort becomes defused. Get out there and shoot! #MinoltaGang