At Foto Ruta, we’re fans of all things street…things that live on the street, hang out on the street, the rubbish left on the street, street cafes, street festivals, street markets, street food, street fights…we love it all. Most of all, street photography. Here’s some helpful tips we’ve learned along the way to keep your street photography street saavy:
Less is More
Don’t take too much equipment and travel light. It’ll make you less obtrusive and you will be able to move around for the best shot quickly. It’s nice to have an extra lens but sometimes it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Pack smart.
Off the Beaten Track
Don’t just go to all the touristy spots – try to get ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘real life’ scenes. Especially in Buenos Aires, where accessibility is a significant asset to seeing and shooting what you want, make use of the fact you can venture off the beaten path and not get arrested for it.
Colour vs Black & White
Black and white is often where it’s at with street photography but at times colourful situations arise and can really make a shot – be on the look out for these. Most of all, try both. Digital is free, you can take as many shots as you like.
In the Background
What’s going on behind your subject can actually ‘make’ the shot. Billboards, signs, graffiti and other visual elements can really make a statement in a shot. Equally, look-out for poles coming out of people’s heads, distracting actions, and unwanted light.
Dare to take a different Angle
Don’t just hold your camera horizontally or at eye level – experiment with angles. Street photography is a less formal medium – make the most of it. Loose and fast is what we like to say, and slow when you have to be.
Shots which challenge the ‘norm’ in terms of composition and story/subject matter can be powerful. Look out for ‘surprising’ subject matter and composition. I like to call this tension. When you mix a bit of glamour with grit, the results can be impressive.
Fortune Favors the Brave
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to get close to your subject – this can be a little confronting but will produce powerful images. In Buenos Aires approaching your subject is easier than it feels. At Foto Ruta our clients are encouraged to get close…and then closer again. It takes time to build confidence but it’s worth it. The best shots are captured this way.
Fun in the Sun
Often we try to avoid shooting into the sun and the shadows that direct sunlight can produce – in street photography breaking these ‘rules’ can lead to great shots. In fact, break all of them. We encourage it.
Revise the Revisit
Street photography is not all about spontaneity – if you see a scene with potential don’t be afraid to keep coming back to it until you get the shot. Sometimes returning when the light is right can lead to your best shot.
The street is a place of movement – to capture it and still get sharp shots make sure your shutter speed is fast enough. 1/125 or more with an ISO of 400 is what this article recommended as a base. I also think it can be fun to experiment with slower shutter speeds on the street – capture the movement as blur.
Blend in with the scene – shoot unobtrusively and unnoticed. Or if this proves difficult, stay until people around seem to be comfortable with your presence.
Life Through a Lens
Exaggerating perspective will help set your subject in context and provide a more forgiving depth of field’ – use a wide angle lens (or even a fisheye)
Pull the shoot ( know when to eject your memory card )
People can be suspicious of street photographers ( not so much in Buenos Aires but definitely in other destinations) and sometimes you’ll inevitably find yourself in hot water. Always be able to eject your memory card from your camera to avoid being asked to actually delete anything. Or if the scene turns really sour, at least you put that card in your pocket and saved the images!
Location, Location, Location
Really this is what it is all about. Choose places where people interact with one another and times when they are present. People always make the shot and provide you with the most unique of images. Seek out cool places that inspire.