Street photography is widely known as candid photography. I think it is one of the toughest segments of photographic art. One certain photographer said, “Street photography is a type of photography where the viewers can smell the street”. So, it is easily understandable that street photography depends on the flavor of the street. Here’s a little bit of differentiation between street photography and candid photography. I think street photography is candid photography, but every candid photography is not street photography. You click a photo without your subject’s consciousness; it is called candid photography and it can happen everywhere. But a click on the street without your subject’s consciousness is called street photography.
The genre of street photography started at the end of the 19th century. During that time portable cameras were being manufactured by different companies. Because bulky cameras had been very problematic to handle on the street. And the subjects were much more conscious after seeing such types of cameras (big ones) in front of them.
This stylistic and aristocrat art of photography was developed by Charles Negre, a French photographer. This was developed as the documentation of everyday life. Surely it is the art of documentation of the day-to-day life of people on the street. It is documented without their consciousness. Street photography holds the actual time and condition of the subject on the street. Basically, people think that street photography means showing the poor and struggling life on the street. I completely disagree with this. Even street photography shows the art of life on the street.
Street photography generally depends on the photographer’s observation on the street. My senior photographer Mr. Bikash Mondal always says, “If you want to do street photography then you have to become the street dog first.” So many people cannot proceed with this thought. But if you think deeply about this genre it is right and helpful to observe the activities on the street. Personally, I was helpful at the beginning of my career by following this.
As you know, lots of camera settings are there for each subject. But if you set your camera, i.e. shutter speed, aperture, and exposure; surely you lose your subjects as I told it happens for only a few seconds. So, forget about the settings for each subject. If you ask me, I recommend clicking on aperture priority mode where you can play with the depth of field in the frame and let your camera adjust your shutter speed. But as your subjects most of the time are movable you need at least 80 or 1/80 shutter speed everywhere.
For this, you can set the lowest shutter speed range 80 inside your camera setting and it will help you to get rid of blur images. Another effective mode is program mode in-camera where shutter speed and aperture will be automatically set by the camera and you can adjust the exposure value. Moreover, decide according to the light condition of your camera status and walk for the desired action on the street. Another more important point, set your camera on burst mode then there is no chance to lose any action.
Your body movement is highly necessary for this segment of photography. As your subject is movable your body should be flexible every time. There is no place to get tired on the street. Sometimes you must run to save your camera and yourself from non-cooperative people on the street. Jokes apart, but it is always necessary to behave like you are clicking the background of your subject, make them confused when you take shots. And always carry extra memory cards if any problem arises, secretly change your card and pretend you have not taken any photos of them.
Street photography depends on the observation of the photographer as I have told before. Observe everything on the street and for this don’t be afraid to go anywhere. Enter everywhere but don’t violate the rules over there. Follow your subject and click the desired action/moment of your subject. Streets are always highly crowded. So many figures can overlap each other but at a specific time you will get a clear and perfect image. For this, you require the burst shot in your camera. Don’t wait for the last end of your present memory card. Change the card when at least fifty photos you can take, install the new one for new shots.
Very important part of street photography is patience. On the street, your subject will not behave like you rather they behave according to their own. But you have to wait there till your desired shots are clicked. Sometimes you have to walk, you have to wait, but winning a stronger shot you have to deal with patience. It is not like a pictorial or fashion shoot that you go, arrange, and click. Here you must behave according to your subject and its activities to find out the perfect, stylistic, artistic photographs.
It is not necessary that the subject acts according to you, but you should create a strong frame according to your subject. You should move, bend, walk forward, or backward to create your frame and avoid all the obstacles in front of your camera.
Every time light conditions will not support you to gain high shutter speed. But low shutter speed also sometimes gives you dramatic shots. Even you can create contrast between movable and stable objects in your frame. During evening to night time i.e. dust, you can get very dramatic shots of lights and shadows with the streetlights. But the problem is you will not be able to get higher shutter speed.
On that point, you gotta focus on the stable subjects and let the movable objects create contrast. Again, you can pan your camera with your subject for the stability of the subject and make a blur effect all through the frame. It will convey the subject’s movement throughout the frame. But remember your camera should be straight with the subject. I mean, with the surface where you are standing, and your subject angle should be at a 90-degree angle. Then only you can stabilize your subject in the frame.
Last but not least, a very important point is about your safety. Because the street is crowded with so many types of vehicles. Sometimes there are reckless drives too. So first when you are walking, standing, moving, observing your subjects observe your surroundings also for your safety. Avoid the random passersby and if they ask, ‘what are you doing here?’, give them tricky answers and make them confused. Then you will not be in any trouble. Use google map to find out the desired places or you may ask traffic police despite asking any unknown photographer because they will make you confused, I have my own experiences on this. To avoid all of this you need strong homework and planning before jumping on the street.
So, my friend be brave, be safe, and be creative to click on the street. I think it will be helpful for starting your clicking on the street.