"Street Photography" techniques


Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in every day and candid situations within public places. Usually photos include such things as streetscapes, parks, benches, malls, and other settings.

This type of photography tends to place the photographer at a distance from its subject matter, and often concentrates on a the human moment; catching a moment in time if you will. On the other hand, a lot of street photography takes the opposite approach and provides an extremely personal rendering of the subject matter. This gives the audience a more up-close and experience of daily life.

The key to successful street photography is to blend into the surroundings in the attempt to not draw attention to yourself and the camera hanging around your neck. People use most kinds of portable cameras for street photography, digital SLRs, point and shoot cameras and now smart phones.

A commonly used focusing technique is called “zone focusing”. This is where you set a fixed focal distance on your camera and shoot from that distance only. This is used as an alternative to autofocus, particularly using wide angle lenses with their increased depth of field. Zone focusing facilitates shooting "from the hip" i.e. without bringing the camera up to the eye. Alternatively, todays swivel view finders allow for composing the shot and/or adjusting focus without bringing attention to the photographer.

Some people "zone focus" at a fixed focal length, while others set the focus on manual and set the focal distance to "infinity".

If you are shooting homeless people, and you do not want to intimidate them, leave the DSLR at home and take a point and shoot. A DSLR camera screams, "I am taking photos of you" and will intimidate any potential subject matter, it may also entice them to want to take that camera from you. A point and shoot is less intimidating and a lot easier to give up if a desperate homeless person decides they want that camera.

So now that I laid out the ground rules and gave you some general rules to follow, here are a few quick tips to follow while out on your street photography adventure...

1 – Keep moving. If you stand still you will bring attention to yourself and your camera.

2 – Do not hesitate. Take the shot. How many times have you wished you clicked the shutter and didn’t. This is amplified in street photography. Everything moves so fast on a busy street that if you are not clicking, you’re missing the action.

3 – Don’t look like a professional. A trick is to fiddle with your camera, look like you are making adjustments and click the shutter while in manual focus at a fixed focal length. People will be caught off guard and not know you are taking their photo because they will think you are fiddling with your camera.

4 - Always have our camera in your hand and ready to shoot. Don’t just have your camera around your neck or in your pocket, which can cause a delay in you shooting. If your camera isn’t in your hand, you’re not ready to take a photo.

Happy Shooting




Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: www.kevinpepperphotography.com