Paris is widely accepted as the birthplace of street photography. From as early as the late 1800s, street photography was a way to simply capture and depict ordinary life and the cityscapes in which it took place. Street photography is a genre of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places. Although the subject can even be absent of any people, invariably, there inclusion produces a more interesting result.
Framing and timing are key aspects of the craft, with the aim of creating images at a decisive or poignant moment. Street photography is definitely not for the faint at heart. There are generally two types of street photographers—those that engage their subjects, talking to them, learning about their situation or activity, and those that hide behind trees or snap pictures by holding their cameras in obscure positions as if to conceal their intent. Today I was the latter.
I was in Seal Beach on a shopping trip but knew that the scenery might offer up some great photographic opportunities. I like to take my camera with me on trips like this because you just never know… I was rewarded with a number of interesting scenes as well as these two character shots. (The scenery shots can be viewed at http://www.costamesaphotography.com/SouthernCalifornia/Long-Beach)
The key to street photography, beyond framing and timing, is to be aware of your surroundings, and to be prepared with your camera. You don’t typically have a lot of time to make decisions about shutter speed, depth of field, lens choice, etc… so you need to make as many of these ahead of time as possible. Then when the moment presents itself, you can frame, focus, and make the image capture. Sometimes a street photographer will take up a position and wait for the action to develop, but today I was on the move and would have to go to where the action was.
People on the street are generally wary of someone walking around with a big camera, and such was the case with the gentleman in this shot. He gave me a wary eye as I walked by, and had I had more time, I would have stopped to talk with him because I thought he looked like someone with an interesting story. I quickly sized up a composition that might work, after walking a short distance further, turned quickly to get the shot I wanted. The young lady playing the guitar was a simpler shot, but still required a quick reaction. I didn’t know when I first came upon her that I wanted a shot…I wasn’t seeing a composition that struck me. But as I was passing by to cross the street I saw it—and had to react quickly.
So whether your genre of choice is landscape, travel, macro, portraiture, etc… dabbling in street photography will keep your senses sharp and will challenge your equipment and technical skills.
If you have comments or feedback, email me at CostaMesaPhotography@gmail.com