In my expert opinion, I would say that street photography is not one of the easiest genres of photography but it can produce so many great images. The best thing in street photography is that everything is captured in real time and cannot be faked or replicated more than once. Each image has its own unique style, meaning, and elements in the frame. Street photography can also be subjective to where you live, for example, if you live in a city or suburbs. You will find that photographers who live close to a city are capable of capturing more captivating street shots than those who live in a suburban area. In this article, I will be sharing with you the top 5 mistakes that are commonly made in street photography and how to correct them. Some of these mistakes were even made by me as a beginner and sometimes even now as a professional so I urge you not to feel embarrassed or discouraged because none of us are actually perfect at what we do.
Most of us are guilty of this first mistake. Doing street photography in fear will not bring you much reward or shots because the best shots, you just have to go for it. I used to be afraid myself to take out my camera and capture a shot of strangers walking or to actually just take out my camera at in public to practice street photography. The mentality I had was that everyone is gonna see me and I’m going to draw a bunch of attention to myself. I started to care more about how others feel about the camera than how I felt about getting the shots I want. This hindered me from getting what could be some pretty amazing shots in my past but I’ve refused to let it hold me back now.
To get over this fear you should make it a habit to walk with optimism and positivity. Make sure to be polite and ask the stranger permission first before you take a single portrait of them. Don’t be afraid to get close and be in the middle because the people around you will never really know what it is you’re capturing. Make it a habit to just think about you and your camera and nothing else. Once you’ve developed that state of mind, you will become more comfortable when shooting in the street. However, this is an issue you have to deal with very quickly or else you will not get the shots you need and will remain timid.
I used to believe in the rule that shooting at a low ISO when doing street photography is the best option. This has proven to be a mistake as the advancement of cameras over the years has allowed photographers like myself to shoot at a high ISO without having to compromise my image with grain. A low ISO is obviously subjective to what it is you’re shooting but when it comes to street photography it’s not the best option.
During street photography, you are forced to shoot at a high shutter speed, preferably 1/250 or higher depending on your lighting conditions. We need this shutter speed high because street photography is very spontaneous and you need to have a freeze frame of whatever it is your subject is doing. In addition to having a high shutter speed, I would also recommend a high aperture value as well. Anywhere between f/8 – f/16 should be pretty good. The reason for this is also related to the fact that your subject will more than likely be moving at an unpredictable rate. In the event that they are moving fast, would want to be able to have a large depth of field just in case you miss the main focus, the rest of your shot is still pretty sharp so you can make adjustments in post-production.
Try not to be so caught up looking for the next subject that you’re walking fast and missing the great things that are already around you. Take your time and observe where you are and let that dictate your shots because moving fast with distract you from what’s just around the corner. Street photography takes a little patience but the patience you put in will give you a reward you will appreciate later so try to take it slow.
This mistake a lot of us make is not getting close enough to our subject because we are too scared or we just panic. A wide shot is always good in street photography but there may be a lot of moving objects or people that will distract viewers from the main subject in your frame. Get close and make sure you isolate what it is you would like viewers to see in your frame, otherwise they will be distracted by everything else.
I know you need to look through your viewfinder to compose your shots but don’t be distracted by the viewfinder too much that you forget to just use your eyes. Being distracted by looking through the viewfinder all the time will limit you from seeing the bigger picture as your field of view is limited. Your eyes are the true viewfinder and should be your primary tool when looking for shots during street photography. Keep your head up and your eyes alert so when you do actually see your shot then you can bring up your camera and capture your frame. Street photography is a beautiful thing but its all about timing, patience and being fearless. Once you’ve mastered all these things then you have nothing to worry about.