05 Throw shapes on the street
Think graphically for more creative urban candid images
Street photography has never been more popular, but it’s easier said than done. Many beginners hit the high street with good intentions, only to get discouraged and overwhelmed by the sheer number of photographic choices on offer, not to mention worries about how people might react to being photographed. Dealing with this latter issue comes through experience. Carrying business cards helps: even quite hostile interrogators realise that perverts and terrorists are unlikely to give out cards containing all their details.
As for where to start in street photography, a great tip is to keep an eye out for interesting graphical shapes, and how people interact with them. The resulting image can be quirky, funny, socially concerned, whatever – but if you look at the images of all great street photographers, from Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier Bresson onwards, you’ll see this exquisitely developed graphical and compositional awareness. Check out the recently published World Atlas of Street Photography from Thames and Hudson for great street ideas, including work from the two photographers featured above.
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* Speed and anticipation is of the essence in street photography. Ensure your camera is properly set up and that you’re comfortable with the controls before setting out. * Most street photographers prefer smaller, more easily concealed cameras, with fast, wide-aperture lenses. It’s entirely a matter of choice, though. Nils Jorgensen, one of the best-known street photographers in the UK, uses a hulking great Nikon D800 SLR and a long lens to take his distinctive shots. * While you have to work fast when an opportunity arises, you often have to wait patiently for this opportunity to arise. Perusing your phone or listening to music while you wait for the ‘decisive moment’ can help you feel less self-conscious as you loiter on street corners. * Street work often looks great in black and white, so turn on the Monochrome picture mode on your camera (if available) to see how a scene or subject will appear in black and white before you shoot. Your camera will still record raw files alongside the JPEGs.