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Street Photography

26 Sep Posted by Mark in Guides |

Last week I spent an hour walking round the town centre with my camera taking photos of random people. Don’t worry, I hadn’t gone a bit mad – I was trying ‘Street Photography‘. Street Photography is the art of capturing candid photos of people going about their normal lives, often without knowing they are being photographed.  The idea being to end up with a more natural, human photo than you would from more typically posed photos. And best of all? It’s really easy to do!


Street Photography: Digital Photo of Boy on Street

Almost any camera you have can be used for street photography, but for this I was using my Olympus SLR with a manual focus ~50mm prime (fixed focal length) lens. The choice of camera you make comes down to what you have, the quality and type of image you want and how inconspicuous you want to be. As the weather wasn’t great I decided the SLR gave me the best chance of getting usable photos in the light available (we’ll see why this matters in a minute).

So, what do you do? Well on a simple level you go out in public and photograph people. However, there are Street Photography techniques that can be used to make the process easier. Firstly, using fixed focus. This allows you to take photos quickly without waiting for autofocus (if you have it) or having to aim the camera exactly at your target. To do this, set your camera to manual focus mode. Then, using a medium aperture (around f8-10) to give a wide depth of field, you can focus your camera so everything from around 2 metres away to infinity will be pretty much in focus. Obviously the camera and lens you are using will affect this, but just have a play until you get something that works for you.

Street Photography: Man with his childrenWhen you are taking the photos, what do you do? Well, this is where it’s all down to personal preference. Some people don’t like being seen taking photos of others, so if your camera is prefocused you can simply shoot with it hanging round your neck or held at your side. If you’re less worried about things then you can simply point and shoot as normal. Just be careful not to bump into people! If you’re using smaller cameras then this can also help you feel less conspicuous while you’re getting started.


Expect to take a lot of photos like this that don’t come out! I didn’t do that well on my trip as the grey weather made it hard to get properly exposed photos with the smallish aperture needed – the shutter speed needed to be so low that most of my photos ended up a bit of a blurry mess. But, despite this I still got a few that might look quite good after some work on the computer. You can see what I got straight from the camera scattered about this page – later on I’ll try and show how these ordinary snapshots can be turned into much more interesting pictures with a bit of straightforward editing.


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