We share some tips for street pho­tog­ra­phy


HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

There are many types of pho­tog­ra­phy in the world to­day and like food, there may be some that you like, and some that you don’t. This month, we take a look street pho­tog­ra­phy and share some tips that we think would be use­ful for this kind of photo ex­cur­sion.

Not a Fash­ion Fi­esta Malaysia isn’t a very cold coun­try. Walk a cou­ple of min­utes and you’re bound to build up a sweat, thanks to the swel­ter­ing heat and high hu­mid­ity. This is why it’s best to wear some­thing that’s com­fort­able and light. We sug­gest wear­ing cargo pants and sports shoes. Cargo pants give you plenty of room to carry an additional cam­era bat­tery, or maybe ex­tra mem­ory cards. Us­ing sports shoes is an ob­vi­ous choice, as you’ll be walk­ing through­out your “pho­to­shoot”.

It’s also a good idea to bring a towel for two rea­sons: you’d be able to wipe your sweat and use it as a makeshift tent for when you need to quickly re­view your pho­tos. Be Lazy! More of­ten than not, the light­ing will change dras­ti­cally from one street to the next. While you may be tempted to set the cam­era to full man­ual, we’d ad­vice against that. In­stead, we’d sug­gest putting the cam­era in ei­ther Shut­ter Pri­or­ity or Aper­ture Pri­or­ity mode. When do­ing so, the cam­era still au­to­mat­i­cally de­ter­mines ex­po­sure set­tings, but it also al­lows you to quickly make changes if the set­tings are a lit­tle too dark or bright.

Know Your Cam­era

Al­though set­ting your cam­era to Shut­ter Pri­or­ity or Aper­ture Pri­or­ity mode will solve a large amount of ex­po­sure woes, it’s also im­por­tant to know how your cam­era func­tions. Know­ing where and how to ad­just the ISO, shut­ter speed and aper­ture comes in handy when you want to get a lit­tle cre­ative and do stuff like move­ment blur or un­der­ex­pos­ing the fore­ground.


If you got that ref­er­ence, than you’ll know that you’ll need to be as dis­crete as pos­si­ble. Car­ry­ing a huge DSLR may give you op­ti­mum im­age qual­ity, but it’ll also at­tract un­wanted at­ten­tion. More of­ten than not, when people re­al­ize they are be­ing pho­tographed, they tend to freeze up and act un­nat­u­ral. We sug­gest us­ing a good mir­ror­less cam­era like the Sony NEX se­ries, or a great com­pact like the FU­JI­FILM X100S. These kinds of cam­eras are much lighter than a DSLR, so you’re able to be much more dis­crete. There is a draw­back how­ever – bat­tery life of these kinds of cam­eras of­ten doesn’t last as long as DSLRs.

On the other end of the spec­trum, some may ar­gue that tak­ing candid shots of people with­out their con­sent is un­eth­i­cal. If this is a con­cern of yours, sim­ply walk up to the people you’d like to pho­to­graph and po­litely ask them for per­mis­sion.

If you’re tak­ing the stealthy route, just re­mem­ber to al­ways be cour­te­ous and smile or wave if the per­son(s) you are pho­tograph­ing spots you tak­ing his/her/their photo. If they ap­proach you and re­quest that you delete their pho­tos, please do so as they have ev­ery right to refuse be­ing pho­tographed.

Com­po­si­tion, Where Art Thou?

Re­gard­less of which style you wish to adopt, you should never for­get about com­po­si­tion. Have your sub­ject framed prop­erly and your pho­tos will al­ways look bet­ter. Take a while to sur­vey your sur­round­ings and if you spot a nice fram­ing spot or back­ground, you can just wait for a sub­ject to en­ter the frame and take your pic­ture. Pa­tience is a virtue when it comes to pho­tog­ra­phy.

Hav­ing said that, when you see a great photo op­por­tu­nity, it’s al­right to break the the­o­ries of com­po­si­tion once in awhile. Af­ter all, they’re only the­o­ries and the main pur­pose of pho­tog­ra­phy is to cap­ture great mo­ments around you.

Primed for Suc­cess

One of the first “mis­takes” you may be tempted to make is to use a zoom lens in­stead of a prime lens. While zoom lenses make it eas­ier to close in on a sub­ject, they’re also mostly large and bulky. This makes you stand out and makes it ob­vi­ous that you’re fo­cused on one par­tic­u­lar thing.

A prime lens (some­thing along the lines of 35mm to 50mm), is con­sid­er­ably smaller and gives you a wider field of view. This al­lows you to be more dis­crete and lets you get more into your frame. Prime lenses also have wider aper­tures, so it’s eas­ier to take pho­tos in darker ar­eas.

Dig­ging For Gold

Great pho­tos can be found any­where and in the most un­likely of places. This is one of the rea­sons why street pho­tog­ra­phy is a source of in­spi­ra­tion and ideas for many pho­tog­ra­phers. When you’re do­ing street pho­tog­ra­phy, it’s some­times bet­ter to “feel” your way to a good pic­ture. Laugh all you want at this state­ment, but more of­ten than not, your in­stincts will lead you to a good photo.

The first step would be to ab­sorb your en­vi­ron­ment by tak­ing in ev­ery sight and sound. Once you’ve found a place that you’re com­fort­able with, sim­ply walk around and look out for mo­ments that shout out to you. Such mo­ments dif­fer from one per­son to the next. How­ever, a rule of thumb is to shoot some­thing that evokes an emo­tion in you. For ex­am­ple, the black and white photo of a cou­ple run­ning in the rain (re­fer to “Rain”) makes you feel melan­cholic.

Fun is the Name of the Game

At the end of the day, the ob­jec­tive for do­ing street pho­tog­ra­phy dif­fers from one per­son to the next. We would like to think that it should be done in the name of fun. Not only will you get to pho­to­graph candid be­hav­ior, you would be able to doc­u­ment a large va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties that make for good sto­ries for when you’re with friends.

The sub­jects in this photo may not be in fo­cus, but this photo still looks rel­a­tively good.

You don’t al­ways have to take pho­tos of people!

Or you could go low.

Some­times, you just need to look up.

You may want to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent ef­fects, such as HDR.

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