Culture is a very beautiful thing and it always amazes me how different people can share similar culture but be from two completely different places. During my time living Jamaica as a child and even as a young adult, I grew to appreciate the different cultures around me and respect them as I would like my Jamaican culture to be respected. Growing up and living in Jamaica I would usually get to experience a lot of things that I thought we unique to my country alone. One of these things were going to the market on Sundays with your mom or parents to help them get groceries or produce at a cheaper cost than what you would find in the supermarket. This was something done by the adults in almost every Jamaican family. As I got older and did a lot more traveling to different countries within the Caribbean and North America, I began to see some similarities. One of the few things I found very similar from we do back home is the ritual of going to the market. Markets are very fast paced places where you will find some of the most interesting or intriguing things as a photographer. It is filled with color, noise and culture you will eventually appreciate. In this article, I wanted to share some tips that will come in handy if you ever decide to visit a Street Market and capture some shots. Thes tips will be short and to the point but I do hope they come in very handy if you ever decide to explore a market yourself and capture some great moments.
Usually, when you go to a street market you are bound to see an abundance of fruits or vegetables to offer you some color in your images. However, you will not always find this in every street market as each street market can be different in their own way and have different characteristics. If you don’t find all the colors you’re looking for at the street market then that doesn’t mean you should leave.
You can make use of the things you have around you and make them interesting in your own way. Not all photographers or viewers will see things from your perspective and that can work to your advantage in many ways more than one. Redefine what is interesting and make that your strong point when traveling through a street market.
You will see some pretty interesting people in the street market that are not only vendors but buyers as well. Capturing these candid moments of different strangers will make your images that more interesting and aid in telling a story as well. I have spotted so many interesting individuals in the street market and couldn’t help but to capture a frame of them and that made for some of my best work in this genre of photography.
You can always feel free to ask for permission before snapping a photo of these strangers but I usually just go for it without asking because they never really notice. I do this especially if its a busy day in the market with a considerably larger number of people moving around. This makes it so easy to blend into the background with your camera and barely be seen or heard. When it comes to capturing strangers in the street market, try not to be too worried as some of them are too focused on what they’re looking for to notice you anyway. This will work to your advantage.
Showing support in whatever way you can to the vendors is always respected and appreciated. Some of these vendors are out on the street selling their produce or creations on a daily basis to make a suitable living for themselves or maybe their family as well. Take into consideration the work they put into what they doing and pick up something just to show some appreciation for what they’re doing. Showing this appreciation will encourage to also show appreciation to you by allowing you to capture a photo of them or giving you consent to take some pictures of their products or Items.
When doing Street Market photography, I would advise you travel light if possible. Street Market photography is similar in some ways to Street Photography or Urban Photography as they all share some of the same characteristics. Carrying a bunch of gear that you more than likely won’t need will make your time practicing or doing street market photography a lot more annoying and draining than you anticipated. As I mentioned earlier, depending on the day, the street market can get pretty busy. This will result in a bunch of strangers basically in a rush to get the best product or items they can before it’s all gone. Usually, when I’m doing street market photography, I travel with a few extra batteries in my backpack or back pocket with my camera and a prime lens mounted on. The prime lens of choice for me doing Street Market photography is between the 50mm f/1.8 or a 35mm lens. Both of them come in pretty handy and produce great images so it is pretty much all up to you as to what your preference is in focal length.
Having variety in your shots is very important as you don’t want to become repetitive or have your work start to seem very predictable. As much as possible, change up your angles and perspective to give your viewers a better picture or story as to what you experienced. Remember, as photographers, we are storytellers for those who did not get to experience these things themselves.
It’s been such a pleasure sharing these quick and short tips with you to help you capture some amazing images when doing street market photography. Until next time, Take care and remember to always have fun.