Street Photography Techniques

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by a._branson, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. I was interested in other photographers' techniques for capturing candid images of people on the street. I have always been intrigued by street photography, particularly candid shots where knowledge of the camera does not influence behavior, etc. But I often find myself trigger-shy for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the pictures I want to take can perhaps be invasive, and the mere fact that someone sees me with a camera can be enough to ruin the candidness of the moment.
    Although I have a 70-200 mm telephoto lens, I rarely use it for street photography because it draws too much attention. Instead, I have been walking around with a 50 mm lens attached to a shutter release which is in my jacket pocket. It's an interesting way to "shoot from the hip," and I've gotten some decent images from it so far, but many of the images are unuseable due to blur or poor framing (it's hard when you're not looking through the viewfinder!)
    I know Walker Evans published a book of subway photographs in which he placed his camera in a bag, allowing him to take pictures of people sitting right across from him as they virtually stared right into the camera. If anyone would like to share their own methods, I'd be interested to hear them.
  2. I have recently given up street photography after encounters with the police and threats of arrest. I did about 400 good pictures on the street between the late eighties and not long ago. I have gotten older and it just isn't worth the hassle and stress to me anymore. I used film cameras. A Leica M6 and/or M3, sometimes a Hass SWC. A metered body is best. Setting the exposure on automatic will lose a lot of shots, especially the more interesting ones. Predetermine the exposure and set it correctly so that all you have to do is focus and shoot. Then set the focus to a typical distance range. You get more latitude with this with the wider lenses, but your 50mm will do a good job too. Be aware of changes in the light and reset the camera. These procedures will turn a Leica film camera into a point and shoot as far as speed goes, but you get the advantages of film and great lenses. Hold the camera in your hands. You see something you want, grab it fast. It could disappear immediately in the city, or someone could park a truck in front of it. Get lots of practice, expect it to take a year or so if you are an experienced photographer, otherwise longer. For film I used mostly T Max 100 shot at 80. The tonality is not as good as many other films but it blows up to 16x20 nicely. Do not photograph children or on private property or you are looking for problems.
  3. adam,
    i too love the idea of street photography but never have been able to pull it off confidently. i have gobe away to busling cisites just to do street photography but shied away from pressing the shutter button. i find this notion of being in the photographic process, as in being observed clicking the shutter release to be rather problematic. my solution to this was to find a street cafe, sit outside with the camera resing on the table and occassionally clicking. being in uk, you can only sit outside two days per year so i had to shoot through clear glass in many a case. since my street camera was a bessa r, a polariser is difficult to pull off. i have thought about doing it with my battered old om4 and a 50mm zuiko lens, but again, this is a bit more noticeable than the bessa and its pancake 35mm lens. i dare not take out the sony a100 dslr and try and do the same.
    one of these days, i am going to head to a pub, have a few drinks and then start my street photography project! at least that way, i won't feel shy!
    one tip that has been suggested to me is to hang the camera from the neck with a strap and pose just like a tourist and shoot that way with the lens set on a predetermined meter and focus. as bruce says, it is best to use a wide angle for this. the more simple looking the camera is the better your chaces of mingling in. i would even take off hoods and anything else attached to the lens if it gives the impression that this is a serious photographic tool.
  4. >>> AAlthough I have a 70-200 mm telephoto lens, I rarely use it for street photography because it draws too much attention.
    Sell it. No use for SP, even *if* it did draw attention (people put far to much energy into that notion)... And your 50mm,if on a crop cam, makes little sense.
    >>> If anyone would like to share their own methods, I'd be interested to hear them.
    Be direct, rather than try and sneak shots. You'll get FAR better photos.
  5. There have been many posts here from people who have been harassed so it does happen but I've never experienced any other then an occasional shop owner telling I can't take pics in their store. Futhermore, I don't recall reading about any other LA shooters having trouble with the police. Damon, Ray, and Barry never mentioned anything about such things as far as I can recall. So maybe it's just the laid back LA vibe or something.
    Nevertheless, I wouldn't worry too much about technique. What works for one person may not work for you. Just work at overcoming your shyness and get out there and shoot. Don't care what people think or that you might get noticed. I often use an RZ67...hardly a camera one thinks of as being discreet. Keep shooting and shoot even more and you will start to notice your own natural technique emerging forth. You will see what interests you and how you approach a scene. If it doesn't look like other peoples shots, who cares? Overcome the shyness, make the work your own, and you will get much more enjoyment out of the activity which is really what it's all about. Good luck.
  6. Since you're just starting out, I'd suggest you pick one focal length and stick to it. Learn how to use it ie: distance from subject, angle of view, etc... this way you can frame the scene before you even look through your viewfinder. Although I've seen some spectacular sp with a telephoto, I personally much prefer the slightly wider view (more of the environment; its setting); it shows the subject in context of the surroundings.
    Go out and shoot. It's the only way you'll get a hang of anticipating how a scene will unfold (tough to do this in front of a computer).
    I personally enjoy looking at other people's photographs so you might want to give that a try. It teaches you some things like composition, how things interact in the scene, etc... for example, take a look at Trent Parke's use of light...
    As was mentioned, don't hide the fact that you're out taking photos. From my experience you'll be better received this way than sneaking shots...
  7. Adam,
    I agree and disagree with almost everything that has been written here (and they'll be a lot more). I think that kind of sums up the difficulties of asking for advice on what is a very individual pursuit.
    Some people are against so-called "sneaky shots," others suggest that such "candid photography" is the only way to do street photography. Some tend to run into problems all the time, others seem to float through without a hitch. Some suggest you wear your camera round your neck like a tourist, other say hold the camera hidden in your hand. And then, of course, we have the gear question and all the individual likes and dislikes that that throws up.
    I suggest you look thru the work of people who post here (as you are asking here) regularly and contact by email those whose work appeals to you. If you get no answer, move on to the next person. After studying their work, ask questions specific to the hurdles you face. Don't be a pain, but at the same time, be honest. Also, because this question has come up numerous times before in this forum, you should look thru previous threads.
    And, as Marc above suggests, shoot, shoot and shoot!
  8. I have never been fond of photographing strangers, and my natural reticence has been enhanced as a result of a few people who responded badly. As a consequence, my photos generally include either friends, people who aren’t prominent in the image, or nobody at all. I make a bit of an exception for situations where people are clearly making a display of themselves (in costume, for instance), but generally avoid pointing my lenses at people I don’t know, even in public.

    While I recognize the sense of this approach, it does make me feel as though my photos lack something that most street photographers manage to capture: specifically, the various moments that make up city life.

    Like the original poster, I am trying to be a bit bolder, in order to get some good results.
  9. Put a semiwide angle lens on whatever camera you are using and just shoot whatever interests you. Since you live in NYC, don't worry about what people might think. Get your technique down so you don't have to think about exposure or focusing. When I bring my camera up to my eye, the exposure is set and the focus is at least close to set. The majority of people I shoot on the street are within 8 ft and often closer. I shoot wide (angle) and tight (close). NYC is the best place to learn street photography. Any fear you have is just a problem between your ears: do it and get over the anxiety. Its great fun!
  10. Lots of good advice above. My 2 cents is use a wide to normal range lens and just shoot confidently. I've been shooting street around the world for about 7 years and generally haven't had a problem unless I was in a situation where I felt a little unsure - people pick up on a lack of confidence a will question you (in my experience). I also refrain from shooting kids and always ask if I want to shoot on private property. Generally it works, but there have been a couple of dicey situations I had to talk myself out of.
    I generally use a 28-70 or a 12 - 24 (occasionally an 80-200 for special situations) non of which are discreet. I'm also fairly tall, so I don't fade into the background too well. Streets my favorite though so I plan to keep on shooting.
  11. "...and the mere fact that someone sees me with a camera can be enough to ruin the candidness of the moment"
    learn to work your camera blindly so you're ahead of that. There's all kinds of street photography. I think i'ts fair to say that there is at least a "raw" approach and a more aesthetic one. It's just what you want. What doesn't work however is shooting from a distance as was already explained. Shyness can be a problem but you can learn to overcome that. I think the best street photographers have also fairly good to exceptional people skills born from selfconfidence and that's something you can develop. For the most part it's just experience. What also can help you is to do documentary aside because there, by defintion, you've got to get involved with the people you portray. Wide angle up to 50 mm will be just fine for all of that. As for MF, I've tried shooting with a 500 CM once but that can be a bit noticable when you're heard from two blocks away. After that I shot with a Yashica Mat which is a great MF camera for on the street. Mostly however 35 mm will be perfect I use(d) a Pentax LX. Where Bruce used T-Max I preferred Delta 100, not the most forgiving film but with stunning results. Tri-X is always good because you can hardly go wrong with that. Nowadays I only shoot digital. In the end however it's not the camera but you who is the most important factor. Also, work alone and not within a group of friends on the street (some do just that), "sneaky" does never work while "shooting from the hip" is also something I wouldn't recommend (probably treading on some toes here). And as is already mentioned a few times but cannot be repeated enough, shoot, shoot and then shoot some more!
    Have fun ;-)
  12. I have a tan golf hat I bought at my local country club that makes me completely invisible when I wear it out on the street. I recommend that you try the one that says Callaway or Titleist. My little XSi with the funky IS kit lens [​IMG]
  13. Learn by doing.
    Sneaky does work at times if you know what you're doing, which is basically being lightning quick. The best camera to be sneaky with is a Ricoh GRD. Street is a somewhat innocently perverted activity but if it's not subversive in one form or another the photographs can get boring. Do what you have to do to get the shot you want. Back off when you have to, there's always a next time. Do what feels right to you and as you do the thing more that will probably change. Pushing the envelope can be a healthy rush. There are no rules in this game other than to obey the law and treat people with respect.
    You're in NY, the easiest frigging place in the world to make street photographs.
  14. Futhermore, I don't recall reading about any other LA shooters having trouble with the police. Damon, Ray, and Barry never mentioned anything about such things as far as I can recall. So maybe it's just the laid back LA vibe or something.​
    About a month ago, there was some police action taking place a couple of blocks away, and I headed over there, camera in hand. After a few minutes, a police officer with brass on the collar came over asking, "Are those pictures digital?"
    So, I'm thinking, "Oh great, here we go." I've never had any trouble with the LAPD or Sheriffs, but reading about what has happened lately in Oakland, Chicago, Minneapolis-- you never know.
    When I told him that they were digital, he handed me his card and asked if I could send some photos, saying that he would share them with the other guys. Later, another officer gave me his email address, too. And they both sent thank you notes, one signed "see you at the next one." By the way, the pictures were nothing to write home about, but they liked them.
    So, yes, it's pretty laid back out here in LA.... but you never know.
  15. Cops in San Francisco are great - I snap them all the time. This group I posed. No hassles with photographers.... That's a 5DII in the guy's hand.
  16. Definitely don't recommend sneaking around. Just makes people nervous while you're sweating if people are noticing you. Much better to blend in by being obvious. Just take the shot you need to take. 99.9% of the time people just don't care. Use short lenses, and get close. I've yet to see very good SP with long telephotos.
  17. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I just point and shoot. Sometimes I interact and point and shoot. It's amazing how many photos that people think are totally "candid" involve photographer interaction with the subject. It's nothing to worry about.
  18. Can we stop making generalizations please? Yes, I would recommend mastering the concept of being open and obvious first, and thereafter most or even all of the time if you want, but being 'sneaky' when and if you think it's the best tactic to get the shot you want. I think the problem here is the word being used, which suggests the pejorative. Maybe better described as being quick and unnoticed. 'Sneaky' out of fear I would say is bad, 'sneaky' from the standpoint of skill and planned tactic not necessarily bad at all.
  19. And Jeff's point hits the essence pretty well.
  20. >>> Can we stop making generalizations please?
    Whose? Why?
    >>> Sneaky' out of fear I would say is bad,
    And that's exactly what I was talking about. See a lot of it here...
  21. Brad @ 11:05 p.m.
    Totally modern cops in a timeless photo.
  22. Years ago, when I went on a 6,000 mile Amtrak trip. I tried to take a picture of the inside of one of those double decker observation cars. As, I was about to take the picture. A lady at the other end, stood up, started yelling very loudly, and for several minutes. Will never do that again,anywhere!
  23. What a shame. That's part of the beauty of it.
  24. Hah, actually Ray and I got ran off an accident big thing. I distracted the cop while Ray moved in and low bridged her while i pushed her over. We took her Glock, tied her up, snapped a few and went off for a beer. We told her if she said anything we'd publish the pics. As you can see, street is easy, its all in your open and friendly attitude.
    Ok, we did get chased off the scene..I thought she was a jerk for asking me to "let her do her job" as if I was dumb enough to intefere with an accident scene, but one of the victims was upset and she got nervous I was taking pics so the cop was being protective, no worrys,it wasn't that interesting anyways, certainly nothing worth arguing about...
    I agree pretty much with Brad as far as being open. I may not announce my presense when taking some pics, and the GRD is very small footprint, but I don't skulk around...much, and a lot of times I will engage people. I'll also walk around with a DSLR and 17-35 Zoom and that doesn't seem to really be a factor. Other times I will just shoot and deal with what comes up. There are times, when I feel it would be ill advised to take a photo and that I might suffer real consequences, so I don't. Much of that is subjective, and you have to learn to trust your perception and intuition. That's what a lot of street is anyways, just that. I think doing it for a while teaches you the boundry between irrational activity stopping fear and paranoia, and sound judgement of risks. Usually, the risks are few.
    Let me add for Adam, I've been in NY City once. Really, you are in a shooter's paradise. People don't even notice you. It's the best place to learn the craft. Go out with a friend to jolly each other around, that will really help. Lose the telephoto for this type of shooting unless you have a very specific reason for it. Really just stand on a busy corner or just walk around, day and night, you won't get hassled shooting ordinary folks, in 99% of the time.
  25. Skulk around awhile, check your LCD screen and if it's all crap, then become obvious as hell, like you own the place. If anyone asks you what you're doing tell them you're doing reconnaissance for Scorsese's next flick.
  26. Look at the Winogrand video. Obviously a voyeuristic middle aged curmudgeon sneaking shots of teen aged girls. Damn pervert.
  27. I have found that a 50mm lens set at 4m is good as you can be close enough to be part of the scene, but not so close as to intrude. This is what Cartier Bresson did. As the light changed, he just opened up or shut down the aperture. He shot at 125th.
    The other thing thats good is to find a location that frames the scene, and pre focus on a spot. Like a set of stairs, or a big puddle. Then just sit it out and as you have been there waiting, you own the location. As interesting people cross the spot, take the shot. That way you are not really pointing the camera at them, just waiting for them to enter the viewfinder.
    That's why a Leica is good, because you can see outside the framelines, and the shutter does not attract attention.
    Cartier-Bresson used to sit on a low wall for hours waiting for interesting people to enter the scene. He did not go looking for people. It was the scene first, then the people entering it.
  28. @ Stephen. Whatever lens does the job for you. I started with a 50 but I found the narrower range of focus and the coverage didn't suit. I find a 35 much faster, and now I'm even interested in 28, but I don't think i would be looking for wider than that on the street. Bresson knew very well where 10 feet was. Many of us get much, much closer.
  29. In the UK and probably US, from what I'm reading, most people are fine with street photography, though increasingly, photographing buildings and the police seems to get a bad reaction; you should make a formal complaint if you are hassled in a public place, since you are within the law if you are not taking in-your-face intrusive stuff. I have heard recently of rail enthusiasts being hassled. It's not acceptable, but if we say nothing, this kind of attack on our freedom will increase.
    On a practical note, if you are trying to sneak pictures without people ducking out of the way or, worse, smiling at you, avoid using viewfinders. It's the action of holidng a camera to your face that alerts people, and this is especially so in sensitive places and the Third World. Use a compack camera on autofocus and shoot blind, or try using a bridge camera like the Finepix S series which has a fold-up LCD monitor - you then look down and people just think you're making an adjustment.
    Needless to say, switch off any shutter bleeps to avoid drawing attention to yourself.
    But as the picture of the cops above proves, after you've sneaked a picture, try the direct approach; many people love yto have their picture taken, and if you get results like the LAPD shot, it'[s worthwhile.
  30. There are no rules worth following and there are no limits not worth testing be @ one with what is there- whatever you do, you wont escape yourself anyway - if you are scared of people you will make scared of people shots - if you haven't got an eye - you will just make boring shots - if you haven't got the heart - you wont see anything anyway
    if you are shooting and people are willing participants in a shot - the shot has no edge - have never seen a set up shot that grabs me - the candid / voyeuristic aesthetic is missing it isnt jazz ..its POP music - and there is a difference.
    There is nothing wrong with any type of shooting you want to do candid isn't better than not - they are just different styles - explore the differences shoot the way you feel like shooting - there are no right or wrongs - there are only results - a pic works or it doesn't - no big deal.
  31. Adam.I shoot a dslr with a 17mm prime or a 35mm with a 28mm prime. My normal mode of shooting is to preset the focus at 10 feet and set the aperture to give me at least 125sec. I will adjust the ISO to give me a decent Aperture say 5.6 or 8 and i,m set to go.Depending on the situation i may shoot from the hip with the camera strap around my neck. My left hand resting on the camera top(this has the added benifit of reducing mirror slap noise) ,index finger on the shutter release.This way the camera is steadied and cuts down on the "shakies"and it does not look like I am not shooting.Now I can get quite close to my subject point the lens at them and even look in the other direction and get the shot.The other style I use is like Gary Winogrand(check out UTUBE). Keeping the camera at shoulder level in plain site.Then it is only a quick move to eyelevel,get the shot and back to the shoulder, it takes about 2 seconds.To most people watching it looks like you did not have time to take a shot. All of this takes lots of pratice and even afterwords you will still have lots of rejects.For pure NYC balls check Bruce Gildens video,he shoots like he does not gibe a damn what anybody cares!. NYC has got to be the best city for street candids I envy you. I will be spending the fist week of Jan. their,watch out for the guy with his left hand over the camera top and say hello!. Go directly to Times Square and act like every other camera toting klutzy tourist and blast away nobody will pay you any attention.Oh, and post your picks on Pn.This will give you a reason to continue to shoot.Good luck.
  32. >>> That's why a Leica is good, because you can see outside the framelines, and the shutter does not attract attention.
    Dubious value. I see outside the "framelines" as is. And for shooting on the street, shutter noise is a way over-rated issue - nobody cares - and that's from shooting thousands of pix on the street with a loud shutter...
  33. I've been using a 28mm prime for my F2 that I've been using quite a bit of lately. It's about as wide as I'd like to go. I was looking at a 50mm at the Bargain Camera show in Pasadena last Sun. but couldn't bring myself to purchase a lens I really don't know how much I'll use. I have a buddy who has a older non AI 50mm who said I borrow it for a day of shooting. I'll do that and see how I like it.
    Recently in downtown I stopped and began to take a picture of some Xmas trees in front of a store. The owner bolted out of the store and begain waving his arms around telling me I cannot take pictures. Rather then explain that I'm on a sidewalk and therefore can take pictures of whatever is in my eyesight I continued to shoot but told him to come out in the light a little more and to wave his arms faster. He didn't get the joke or just ignorned me I guess.
    Lastly, as someone who works with the public, trust me on this one thing: Most people more then likely will not notice you taking pictures. Really, there is a large number of our population that just are too pre-occupied to to know where they are and whats's going around around them. While testing out a digital camera in a crowded Costco I walked up and down the cash register area snapping away at the crowds with the auto flash on and nobody batted an eye. Except for one lady actually who on my return trip down the front end stopped me and asked me if I work for the papers. She said she thought I did because I moved so quickly and gracefully through the crowd. She meant it in a nice way so I took it as a compliment. So don't worry and just get out there and shoot.
  34. >>> Rather then explain that I'm on a sidewalk and therefore can take pictures of whatever is in my eyesight I continued to shoot but told him to come out in the light a little more and to wave his arms faster.

    Ha!. That's great!
  35. OK, with respect to tense SP experiences, here's my most interesting and bizarre, and even then, it wasn't a huge deal...
    Most people, 99%, say nothing. Some say "No." Others ask why you're taking their picture. Just not a big deal. You move on...
  36. Generally, when you approach your subject with the intention of stealing or sneaking the shot, or getting away with something, that vibe gets picked up real easy and the subject reacts negatively. Photographing in public is not a crime, and if you're not imposing too much it's often no big deal to the subject; like someone else said, interacting with the subject is not cheating. Successful street photographers always find a way to become part of the situation rather than come in from outside. Sometimes it's by becoming invisible, sometimes it's by becoming the guy sticking his camera into things. Be normal. A lot depends on the exact scenario at hand, of course - obviously sometimes people react negatively (or worse) to being photographed - it's not supposed to be easy all the time and you will need a thick skin to get some shots. Be impeccably civilized (not necessarily polite); you can be annoying up to a point, but any hint of the wrong kind of wierdness and you're toast. It's all about being right with yourself at the critical moments. This is a skill that can be learned, as well as somewhat of an art. The key is to pay attention inwardly. If you can do that, the tactics will come more easily. Sometimes you just don't belong, and you can't get a shot you'd like; sometimes the right thing to do is look away. Be OK with that.
  37. As Mark said about "avoid using viewfinders" that could be why TLRs were (are) great at street shots. Being smaller, maybe a 127 Rollei, Yashica would be excellent! Just found a new way to use my 4x4.
  38. I'm new to documentary photography, but so far a technique I use for informal portraiture (something I feel I do very well) is paying off well for me. Not being comfortable with "sneak" photography, I do approach prospective subjects and explain what I'm about. After making certain they're comfortable with me taking pictures, I begin. I tell them I first need to take some test exposures and to please ignore what I'm doing. At first they don't, but after a few snaps and tweakings of dials and buttons, they drop their guard. I keep fiddling and changing settings, getting my real shots all the while. Then I tell them, "OK, I'm ready now." Then I take a few conspicuously posed shots that every subject seems to think I want. I usually stop there with the portraiture work, but for street photography I might ask if the subject minded if I took a few other shots that weren't posed. I would then take a LOT of shots, to the point that the subject would eventually start ignoring my presence and get back to whatever he or she was doing before I came along. In general, I've found I do better when I shoot a lot of frames. The subject eventually ignores me when I do this.
  39. a bit of politeness goes a long way as well as how you conduct yourself. i have also noticed that a well dressed good looking guy or girl can get away with a little more (perhaps a lot more) than a the average hairy and unkempt photographer!
  40. I recenltly started shooting street photography. I like shooting in the worse areas, the street people. I have gotten a few very bad comments and looks that made me nervous and I had to leave and go back to the more populated streets to feel safe. I have considedered and will have a friend tag along next time for safety and comfort.
    I have read this post and have learned much from it today. I will use much of what is written here as all of the posts have someting in them that will be of great use to me.
  41. If I may throw in my two cents, not that I am a pro or anything. About a year and a half ago my wife to be and i went to downtown L.A. (the garment district) so I took my 300d and a 70-200mm just to have something to do while she shopped. Well if you walk around L.A. with a camera the illegals think that you are "immigra" and shy away. Just walking down the street people were putting their hands in front of their faces. Anyway, I did manage to get about 120 shoots off but out of that there were only about five that I liked. Two months ago my wife and i again went to downtown for a filming and as we stood outside waiting I was looking at the old 20-30's building and the great archtiecture these buildings have. There is sooooo much more to city life than the people (although the people do play a 90% roll in it) What is great is the old archieture backdroped by the new 100 story technology and modern archieture. During the Christmas break I hope to get back down there this time with me graflex. Talk about inconspicuous! That should draw a crowd. Not to mention the graffiti all over the place. So just go have fun and shoot,shoot,shoot. Ya'll have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
  42. I was at Union Station in Los Angeles a few months ago, and I was setting up a tight shot of my GF, a portrait of sorts, and some big guy behind her got all bothered, wanted to shove my camera into a certain part of my body...and the strange thing he was never in the frame, and after explaining this to him, and even showing him the LCD image, he would not be reasonable....perhaps he thought I was a PI or something...I don't often do street because too many angry folks around. I was just in Tijuana recently, and in this plaza, I raised my camera to my eye to shoot an interesting street vendor, and then some Mexican stranger ran up to me and told me in english that I could be beat up because there are lots of "maniacos" there. In retrospect, I see his point because these days there's a lot of organized crime having a bit of a war with the authorities. These days I prefer to look at the street images all you others make and post here. I think the street genre is very challanging and very difficult anyways...far more challanging then shoot a football game or other photographic genres, so I have a lot of respect for many of your shooters here.
  43. Leica M6 with 50mm Summicron works fine for me. Can't get much more unobtrusive than that.
  44. jbm


    Man, it's a free country, despite the goofy atmosphere of the last eight years. Just go out there and blast away.
    Sometimes, being confident, standing up and just hitting it and letting the subject know you are taking their picture works well.. Do what the situation demands. Be social and just start talking to people as you walk up snapping a few photos.
    When you need to blend in, blend in. Use a moderately wide angle lens, fast film (or settings on your digi), f8, and set the focus to 10 feet. That way you'll capture a serious depth of field and a wide scene and only need to think about pressing the shutter. Learn the angle of view of the lens you have on the front of the camera; you can imagine a viewing "cone" coming out of the camera to aid mentally in your shoot from the hip compositions.
    And have fun. That's why you do this. There is very little I have done in the pursuit of fun that hasn't made me nervous at first: bike racing, snowboarding, skiing, lovemaking, cooking...and now photography. The nerves are part of the fun.
    I put some of my "streetish" photos below...some I took making eye contact with a subject, others from the hip.
    Best of luck to you.
  45. I preset exposure (with aperture at f5.6 or so) and preset focus at 10 feet. In the beginning, the toughest part was mentally measuring 10 feet when someone happens to be walking by.
  46. Many interesting techniques and process's listed. I too love to shoot the street, especially at night. I normally use my Nikon F80, trix 400 and a 24-85mm or 50mm lens. I have no problem in asking for permission to shoot, sometimes they say no..but who cares..there is usually something just as interesting around the corne. I also have had great success in going into a bar with a $10 bill, picking a barstool, asking the bartender who would trade a free beer in exchange for me taking shots. The $10 will buy 2-4 beers, depending on where it is, and I can usually finish off a roll or two before the beers are gone. I push the trix to 1600, and get some really neat shots. Everyone is happy..they get a free beer, I get some great atmospere shots, and the bar owner will usually put the pictures up for others to see.
  47. I have used both stealth techniques and friendly engagement of the subjects. Both can work, but you are far more likely to get truly candid shots if the subject is unaware of being photographed. I will sometimes shoot from waist level without any pre-framing in the viewfinder. This creates a certain randomness in the resulting images that I find interesting and exciting.
    P.S. John Lovelace,
    Great shot.

  48. (Shooting poverty and hardship also requires some sympathy with bthe subject -- 750 x 1000 photo)

    Maybe it does. I took one recently, and I thought if I had any real sympatico I wouldn't have taken his picture as I generally feel that unless you are doing a real series on street people and homeless where you really engage..that shooting them is a cliche....but in this case, I took the snaps I was a little moved by how pathetic he looked...It just makes me curious as to how he got there..
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  49. BTW, that's the leg and foot of a very famous photog...
  50. Brad, that story's a hoot...
    I had one woman say exactly the same..excuse me did you just take a photo of me..when I told her I did, she asked "why?". My lie that she was standing in nice light and the framing looked like it would make an interesting photo did not impress her. She told me "you are a freak" and I replied, wow, how did you know? and we both parted company..the truth is the shot occured in the corner of my eye as I was walking down the street, I literally reacted swiveled and shot I haven't got a clue why....
  51. I'm probably the last person who should post in this thread. I haven't done any street type photography for years and all that I have done was in college. There isn't any in my portfolio here because none of the stuff I did back then is digitized. I was always really nervous about shooting in the street. I never had any problems, but for some reason it made me nervous. The fact that I almost always shoot alone might have contributed to that. I think that when you are starting out in this type of photography nervousness is normal. Anyway, one thing that worked for me was to shoot other stuff like buildings or other interesting non-human subjects and if I saw a unique human moment I just swung around and shot it, moving on to something else right after. It seemed that if people saw me just shooting other stuff they didn't worry about me as much. Back then all I had was a Pentax K1000 and a 50mm lens. I always used Tmax. It seems to me that these days you might run into more trouble by trying to be sneaky and hiding what you are doing. Get really good with your camera so that you hardly have to think about operating it to get the results you want. The next time you get that nervousness in your stomach about shooting just go for it. Think technical not emotional and shoot. As long as you are respectful and within the law it will probably be just fine.
  52. One of my tactics - pretend to ignore people in the frame... 28mm or wider recommended for this. Take a series of shots; make your subjects think you might actually be shooting smth. else - just the street, just the background, something in the distance...
  53. Adam, most people aren't aware of shooters. The same while driving a car and not thinking of motorcyclists. And how you feel, at the end seen with your camera, is the same as being seen with your motorbike. So feel free, you have to! Hiding and behaving suspiciously is dangerous in both cases. Feel free, just by doing it. And being seen, most people don't react at all. Your victems even often will feel themselves a kind of honered, are astonished, smile or just continue their way and behaviour. However, one has to love them! And one has to fall in love with "street." Camera and kind of optics are personal. I do love my older AF 70-210. f 4.0 (a very practical range!)
    My goal? Good light, a better background and.. to be sculptured or painted people. Haha, that's why I shoot, it's going faster. And with that lens I can shoot from just three feet..! I did try a wide angle, however one has to get so very, very close.. I felt unpleasant. Used to it, I'm sure I would love it and absolutely would need a newer type. Not shy and tall, I'm constantly observing and reacting in a rather intuitive way. Feeling for the moment often is said. The nicest moments? Haha, children in buggy's do always notice you! Grandpa Olaf.
  54. Hey Barry...being called a freak isn't all bad huh? I get called that all the time at work and I have to admit it's true and I have to go on to explain how I come from a long line of freaks, bastards, and heels and therefore I really can't do much about it (even if I wanted to which I don't lol!).
    Ed Lusthoff mentioned his experience of downtown LA. In the last two months I've taken more pics downtown that I ever have the previous years. There are certainly areas where just turing the corner with even a relic of a camera like my F2 around the neck seems to send people in a panic. I'm not even carrying a gadget bag but everyone stares at you and as soon as you raise the camera to your eye many people scurry away. A couple streets around LA and 8th (know as the toy district I believe) was a great area. Packed narrow sidewalks and alley ways that led to bigger open area swap meet type settings. However every street had at least one B&W LAPD squad car parked along the curb and at least one pair of bike patrol cops, the ones in the purple shirts. As if this wasn't enough, occasionaly one will see a sign informing people that the area is being recorded by video cameras. All I could of was that this area must be where many of the counterfit goods are sold. Otherwise it must be a hotbed of other crimes. Whatever the case, it is a odd experience since people in other parts of LA don't care or don't notice if they happen to be in front of ones camera.
  55. Good shots Barry. You and the Jadtec woman had quite the thing going there for a fleeting moment. I wonder how our momentary encounters with people would look from an aerial view. Like ants stopping and touching, then moving on. Or a dog sticking nose in the grass at certain contact smell points. An aerial movie of street photographers paths in real time might be somewhat interesting. Each would be different.
  56. "Did you just take a photo of me?" I must have heard that at least a half dozen times in 2008.
  57. Let me just add here that I do not prescribe to the recommendation that a wide angle lens needs to be used.
    This comes from the old days of rangefinder where accurate framing is a problem. Hence one has to shoot something and crop later hoping the subject's head will be inside the frame.
    You can use any lens you want for street portraits. Even very fast lenses, if focus and framing can be achieved (depends on the camera).
    There are no special photography techniques for street. If something captures your interest as you look around and you can capture it. That is that. Nothing more nothing less.
  58. "This comes from the old days of rangefinder where accurate framing is a problem. Hence one has to shoot something and crop later hoping the subject's head will be inside the frame."
    whilst i agree vivek that you can use whatever lens you please this statement is missing some relevant info... like large dof, perspective etc.
  59. I found with my SLR's I always got strange and angry expressions if I didn't ask before taking a shot. I was using one of those flip LCD screens on my old Canon g3 and got excelent photos without drawing attention. Sometimes I would even put the lens under my underarm and photograph from reverse. using the flipped LCD to frame. I don't know what newer camera's have this feature, but it works great!
  60. Back in the 60's and 70's it was common to use wide angle lenses (24 or 35mm) good depth of field and great for quick shots. I tried using a series of lenses like most but always seem to end up with my 24mm.
    Can always crop if needed. Most of your street shots are point and shoot for it changes so fast. The most accomodating lens is the forgiving wide angle.
    The other choice to consider is a range finder.
    Theres another dimes worth,,,,,
  61. With respect to the kind of camera to use, I personally found that I'm the one that's more sensitive to the noise (mirror slap/film advance) than the people out in the street. Often times, people are so preoccupied with whatever they're doing to notice the split second a camera is lifted up & the shutter pressed. I've seen people wander with a DSLR the same way one would with an M6 and get fantastic photos. So overall, I think the photog's approach carries more weight than the type of camera used.
    *This doesn't mean to say that using a digital p&s with next to no sound doesn't have its benefits - of course it does - you can't beat its near silent operation when silence is a must (church services and the like)*
    SP is much more subjective in its methods/techniques & interpretation than some other types of photography such as landscape, fashion, etc... Wide or normal? Are tele lenses okay? To ask for permission or not? What about portraits in the street - is that street ? Just go out and shoot & you'll soon discover you own way...
  62. Vivek, in addition to greater depth of field, the reason for wider lenses for SP and photojournalism (see James Nachtwey who uses an slr and many others as example) is that they require the photographer to be closer to the subject. This shows up in the photograph and translates to placing the viewer in the scene where the photographer was. Back away with a telephoto and space in the photo is compressed. The viewer feels a distance and remoteness. I'm not saying you can't use longer lenses and I've seen some successful street photos done with something like a 90mm, but it's a rarer bird.
  63. Similar to many of the comments. Know your camera and lens. Do some trial shots to decide what is acceptably sharp for you given a certain min and max distance. Use a prime lens and get the DoF tables for it (or use an online calculator to work them out). Learn and know then religiously, try them, don't trust the numbers, they will be optimistic!
    For example my Mamiya 80mm lens at f8 with focus set to 3m will be sharp from ~2m to over 4m, set to 5m will be sharp enough for a subject between 4m and 8m, set to 10m focus will be good between 5.5m to well over 50m. What that means is within 1cm of movement of my focus ring and the instant response of my rangefinder, I just aim and shoot, pre-judging the distance very roughly. I don't actually focus on anything. I believe the term snapshot is a proper photographic term this type of shot is where the term came from. Now of course a snapshot is just sneered at, so it's meaning has changed somewhat.
    It's also how I capture pictures of my kids, with a manual focus camera!
    btw. I enjoyed this thread, something useful shared and a lot of contribution instead of bickering about how sensors work or film vs digital. Merry Christmas everyone!
  64. Unfortunately its a symptom of the times we live in, I would say most of the population are sad, brainwashed individuals who beleive anyone with a Camera must be a Terrorist or child molester! Sure its a real problem, but people should get some perspective on reality, more people are killed on the roads every year, and by drug/drink related problems then by any Terrorist acts. Iv got more chance of been killed by a Piano falling from the sky then any Terrorist plot! We had a case here recently in Hull City, North East of England, where a photographer had his camera confiscated by the Police "For taking photos of sensitive buildings" thats a laugh sensitive buildings in Hull. Everyone is Paranoid and Brainwashed, its also pretty ironic considering the amount of CCTV cameras all over our Cities. I was taking some images on Brooklyn Bridge once, I was scanning the area through my viewfinder, when a woman came riding across on her bike, waving her arms and trying to cover her face, shouting at me and going crazy!! I thought what a silly woman, I had no intention of taking one of her I wanted some wide angle shots of Lower manhattan from the bridge, showing parts of the bridge also. And this was pre 9/11 !
  65. Here's a trick that works for me (Bruce Gilden taught me this one). Use high ISO (I shoot film so it's Tri-X pushed to 1250), a wide lens (I use a 28) and a tiny aperture (f22). This give you enough depth of field that you can ignore focusing issues. Set your focus to manual.
    Why? Because now you can point the camera and click instantly without having to wait for the AF to lock in, and you can do hip shots when you don't want your subject to even see you raise the camera to your eye. If your camera has a removable finder (like my F3) you can even compose while holding the camera at waist level.
    Here's an example:
    Up close, 28mm lens, hip shot, f22, Tri-X at 1250 souped in Diafine.
  66. Jon Butterwick , Dec 24, 2008; 09:11 a.m.
    "This comes from the old days of rangefinder where accurate framing is a problem. Hence one has to shoot something and crop later hoping the subject's head will be inside the frame."
    whilst i agree vivek that you can use whatever lens you please this statement is missing some relevant info... like large dof, perspective etc.​
    You did not read what I posted. Please re-read it again.
    Ray, Sure large DOF, etc, etc. That is what some used (may be many use). My point is that there is no strict dogma when it comes street photography. Don't tell me you can't use a fisheye or a macro lens and heavens forbid Infrared or Ultraviolet techniques. Street isn't confined to anything and isn't contricted by any definition.
  67. John, that's a truly awesome photo.
    Tip my hat.
  68. Interesting read here, but I noticed one thing. Not one mention of a model release. How many of these types of photos are being shown without the consent of the subjects?
    Just curious.
  69. Vivek, I didn't say what you're implying I said, read it again. Your original statement is inaccurate- that wide angle lenses are used because of lack of precision in framing. That may be true in a very small percentage of cases, but otherwise, no. And feel free to prove me wrong, but long lenses, fisheye, infrared, etc, are for the most part novelties, in some cases tools of necessity, but otherwise rarely used effectively for the reasons I stated.
  70. I dare say that long lenses, specifically, are used maybe 90% of the time either because closer physical access is not possible, or because the photographer is simply afraid of being physically close to the subject area.
  71. How many family photos or photos of friends are shot from a distance with a long lens? ... Something to think about. ;)
  72. How many of these types of photos are being shown without the consent of the subjects?​
    I imagine most. Not needed for this kind of non-commercial use.
  73. Ray,
    I think there is serious misunderstanding going on here. I said that as long as one can capture what fancies their attention around them then that is it. This wide angle/telephoto, personal interaction, don't disturb the environment, etc are very different and conflicting topics that can be argued in many different ways.
    If you consider certain things "novelties", well, that is your preference.
    Ray . [Frequent poster] [Current POW Recipient] , Dec 24, 2008; 03:05 p.m.
    How many family photos or photos of friends are shot from a distance with a long lens? ... Something to think about. ;)
    That is why canine photo opportunities are so very important for normal or wide angle lenses! :)
  74. Great shot Edward! That is what street shooting is all about! Street shooting is one of my favorite things to do and NYC is truly the ultimate in the US for this IMO. I really envy the OP for his predicament! Many many great ideas and techniques here. I will second many of them and add a few of my thoughts and techniques...28mm and wider lenses can be a good choice to start out with as you can get right up to someone, pointing the camera slightly off to the side of your subject, and get them perfectly in the frame. I used to use this technique all the time and your subject can clearly see that you are shooting at something else and will quickly lose interest.
    I still use a variation of this technique with a fast 50mm lens on a Leica M6 and with a little practice, you'll find that it is very easy to become "invisible" with no need to be sneaky and make people nervous at all. Do you ever really notice, or are you distracted by, someone pulling out their cellphone and fiddling with it while walking down the street? Same with a little camera. No one notices. Definitely you should preset your exposure and prefocus with the largest aperture you can, TriX 400 pushed a couple stops to 1600 can get you f/8 - f/11 outside in lowish light or shade and that should be enough DoF to keep you in focus. I used to use this method with a small, manual Nikon SLR and 50mm all the time, and while it was a small package, it doesn't compare with the Leica M in it's small, unobtrusive size and shape. People really just don't notice or pay attention to that little camera, but that certainly doesn't mean it's the only camera you can use. For digital, I use a Canon G10, which is also very small and quiet and can help keep you from being noticed, but isn't nearly as fast or as well suited for street shooting as the M6. Even then, I think the method, while certainly enhanced by the choice of camera, relies more on the photographer learning to be dicreet and unnoticed. Here's how I like to do street "portraits"....
    One of my most common street shooting portrait "modes" is to walk down the street, keeping my photog's eye alert for anything up ahead that might look interesting. I wear darkish clothes and I keep my black camera hung over my right shoulder and behind my elbow, so unless someone is really paying attention to me amongst all the other people, no one notices that I have a camera. (Great big professional DLSRs with 24-70 2.8 AF-S VR etc... mounted are at a distinct disadvantage here - at least mount a small, normal to wide prime lens if a DLSR is what you're shooting with.) Then, when I see a potential shot ahead, without changin my pace I will casually bring my camera to hand at about waist level, check settings and approximate focus distance and avoid making any eye contact with my subject-to-be so's not to attract attention from them. When I am the right distance (about 6 to 10 feet), I will slow to a stop, raise my camera to my eye in a direction slightly away from my subject and then gently, smoothly swing in and get my shot.
    This method isn't about being in-your-face ballsy (ala Bruce Gilden), and you really don't have to be "sneaky" at all to pull this off. Everything happens much too quickly and too discreetly for the subject to notice what's going on and put on a "camera face". I never try to be sudden or jerky when I do this. Always blend in to the scene. (This won't work when you and your subject are the only two people in the area, by the way.) Always be smooth and quick, but graceful and non-threatening. Lots to be said for body language in these moments. If the subject does happen to notice that they were just photographed, I always give a sincere smile and a "thank you" nod and almost always (or often, anyway) get a smile in return. Sometimes people are flattered that you wanted their photo and the opportunity forms for a few more frames in this moment. 1 second later, I have passed along on my way and it's like nothing ever happened.
  75. 2
    "or because the photographer is simply afraid of being physically close to the subject area"
    For some it might ,Ray. Personally i like the option of a zoom. Think about it ,you see a really interesting photo opportunity but you are too far away. Okay, you can dash across the street avoiding the traffic..and then it is gone. These cult ideas about real street photographers only use wide angle lenses, shoot in BW, and use a Leica are..well, guess.
    There are no right or wrongs ,no special magical styles or cams...... it's just about getting the photo whatever it takes.
    Sneaky fast techniques ,interaction with the subjects, staged.....all roads lead to Rome so the saying goes.
    Bottom you see an interesting photo opportunity,you point the cam ,and press the big button. If you are too scared to do that in case someone might get you...then,street is not for you.
    It's really that simple.
  76. I bought a new/used F6 and 20-35mm AFD and its bigger than my MP. I did a trial run with the F6, snapping a few shots in a crowd to see what kind of attention I would get. Well, I got no attention.

    I do not interact with the subject except to smile occasionally. My cameras are programmed (F6) or preset (Leica) and if it involves people I take the shot quickly and with confidence. If people see you nervous or hiding something they will become suspicious and your done.

    During the few times Ive been acousted by security, I dont argue with them or take it personally. They dont know but what they have been told to do. Ok, whatever.

    My people fotos are not about getting head on mug shots. I include people as an accessory to the bigger scene. I try to avoid rear end shots unless of course its some spice chick worthy of such capture.
  77. I don't know if its been said, but in this modern age of our "live view" helps :)
    Bresson shot with a Leica not just because of its quality, but also for its size. A good point and shoot will get you lots of shots that an SLR may not.
  78. Street photography is all about attitude. If you go into a situation, hesitant and fearful, that it what you'll see in your shots.
  79. "Great big professional DLSRs with 24-70 2.8 AF-S VR etc... mounted are at a distinct disadvantage here - at least mount a small, normal to wide prime lens if a DLSR is what you're shooting with"
    A friend in Vancouer, B.C. whom I had a photo walk with over the summer uses a 30D w/ 17-40mm f4 lens (surely not the largest, but definitely bigger than a prime).... sometimes he uses a flash.
    ...he's not at a disadvantage...
    He's still unobtrusive - people know he's out taking photos, not necessarily of them, but don't really react to it until after the shot was taken.
    To each his own I guess....
  80. "because the photographer is simply afraid of being physically close to the subject area" - Ray choice but to move closer if there's only a 35mm lens on the box...
  81. Know your rights and carry a copy of them with you in case of intimidation. That will give you peace of mind about any confrontations that may pop up.
    Also, carry some sort of ID that proves you are in photography as an art form, be it a business card with your website and name (photographer listed as profession of course!)
    Carry release forms so you can think commercially - approaching someone you just photographed with the form is much more pro then disappearing around the corner. You can get their name & email address for starters, and a phone number if they would like to know if your image is going to be used for any commercial purposes. Some people think it might be cool to be featured in an ad... others may not. Then at least when you get home and start sorting through images you know the bounds within which they may be used.
  82. Just do it. If you are on public property, Bryce Canyon or the municipal subway, you are OK. They may hassle you but they can't stop you.
    You may only have one chance to capture the candid, don't be shy, make the decisive moment count.
  83. The day is so done. Another trip home
  84. Hmmm...I guess I'm one of the few that likes to focus each shot on it's own. I guess this is because I like seeing exactly what's going to be captured thereby giving me another chance to decide if I want to take the shot at all.
    As for silence my RZ is certainly louder then my F2 but even in a quite subway train nobody seems to hear the "ka-thunk" sound when the shutter is pressed. I'll be going to church tonight with my lady friend and will bring along my F2. I'll take some on-the-sly shots light permitting.
  85. I put my zoom at widest angle and shoot from the waist in AF. I takes a little practice but the results are great.
  86. Philip Maus - Great shot! Great lighting.
  87. Perhaps; but both my Leica and Nikon F6 focus so fast its just not an issue. Street shooting has to be second-nature. if you take too much time you'll miss the decisive moment. Best - P.
  88. I've found this discussion fascinating and informative. I like Street Photography and, like most of you, probably have loads of books about H C-B, Winogrand, etc.etc. Most of their images were shot at probably a very much more relaxed time. In the UK, at present, street photographers are having a bad time with over-zealous hobby-bobbies (Police Support Officers) who regard anyone with anything but a P&S as a possible terrorist threat. Amateur Photographer has been lobbying sympathetic parliamentarians to try to get some order into the chaos. I think matters are a bit more relaxed in Continental Europe where I do most of my street stuff. I have found that if you work quickly and 'target' individuals or groups who are already interacting with each other then you can do so unobserved. I've posted some I took recently.
  89. Ferrara again. These men are discussing something!
  90. Outside the cafe
  91. that's damned fine work Harry
  92. I mostly shoot stealth, pre-focused, from a neckstrap, behind my left arm, shot with a cable release, FF + Leica 19/2.8 when there's enough light for EI 3200-f2.8-1/100, 24/1.4 when there isn't. Usually shoot the 19 at 3 ft., 24 at 4 ft. I find this gets me past the AF-point encouraged tendency to center everything, and my sense for "about 3 ft." is a lot faster and more reliable than AF in low light anyway. And after a while you get a pretty good feel for where something this wide is pointed. When I do shoot from the eye I find I get a lot of hostility with my big 1dsII whereas my funky old Mamiya Universal just makes people chuckle. [​IMG]
  93. [​IMG]
    10.5mm 180deg fisheye.
    A Tilt/Shift lens, specially configured for street.

    Infrared with an IR cam .
    Telephoto zoom.
    Telephoto with shift/tilt function.
    An f/0.95 lens, wide open (not a random snap!).

    False color Ultraviolet capture.
  94. if you havent seen it and if it hasnt been the one reason to become a photographer, check out the movie blow-up.
    head on with big cameras. and if you dont feel like doing that try something like a vivitar 35EM
  95. I'm interested in how stealth photographers release the shutter. I usually steady my camera with my left hand at waist level and place my right thumb on the shutter button. This, I feel, is less obvious than using my forefinger. Are there any remote shutter release devices that can be operated from inside a pocket?
  96. I'm sorry, but I just do not agree with stealth street photography.
    I'm going to make a few enemies here, but to me it's gutless and goes against all we have learned from the greats going back 60 years. And if you do get accosted by someone and bashed over the head, then don't come on here and say that SP is too hard. Ypu were being sneaky, weren't you?
    I have never been abused or even spoken to harshly and its because I am proud to be taking photographs in the street. My subjects invariably come up to me and I say that the scene was beautiful. I give them my card and they can email me and I send them a copy of the shot.
    I have a personal heritage in professional photography going back to WW1. My father and going back three generations. They were proud of their art and were paid handsomely for it. All my grandfathers glass negatives are in our National Archives. He would turn in his grave if he read some of this. He did candid photography with a 10x8 box camera on a massive tripod.
    Photography is all about capturing an incident or scene and rendering its beauty or interest to the world. If you want to skulk in the shadows, afraid to show that you value recording a scene with the participants in it, then go be a PI and take shots through peoples bedroom windows.
  97. Stealth is another way to say - "candid" buddy - if you are using a ding bat telephoto- THAT is gutless and also guaranteed to deliver crapola boring shots..
    Allen Herbert if I am using my 21mm I dont see anything that I can't use my 21mm for..understand ?? why woudl across the street if I cant shoot it in teh first place? - but it ok you can use any zoom zoom you like - I tried using them for years off and on ..truth is they make sucky street shots.
    The fifty is till the shooter's lens and always will be - no wide angle distortion tricks and no zo0m zoom effect either - I have developed some sympathy for a 28 on full frame - only because the 28 'cron is so perfect.
  98. Stephen Asprey, since using stealth techniques to take candid photos displeases you, then by all means you should never use them. Many other photographers, however, do not find it so distasteful. In fact, it can be rather exciting, given the small amount of danger involved. In general, persons in public places may legally be photographed, whether they like it or not. One could even view this as the price of living in a free society. Except for professional paparazzi , almost everyone who engages in street photography is an amateur who does it for art or for his/her own pleasure. There is never an intent to harm the subject, which, in my book, means it is not unethical.
  99. Robert Goldstein: Pretty much any electronic release can be operated in your pocket if you have big enough pockets--my big
    Canon TC80N3 timer remote works well in the cargo shorts I usually wear shooting, and in slacks as well, although it'd
    probably be tough in jeans. You can also get cables to use flash radio remotes like Pocket Wizards, Alien Bees Cybersyncs
    or Elinchrome Skyports to trigger your electronic release camera.

    Stephen Asprey: Enemy may be too harsh a word, but yeah, I have zero patience for people who think their way is the only

    The HCB disciples who think because their hero didn't crop no one should; Ansel Adams and the Newhalls virulent campaign
    against anything not f64, pictorialists in particular; film v. digital partisans; brand snobs, anti-zoomists, long lens deriders,
    Photoshop phobics--they'd none of 'em be missed (O.K., O.K., maybe Adams).

    Making these decisions about your own photography is one thing--I don't own a zoom, and don't even use my 50 on the
    street, let alone my 135. I crop pretty much every shot. But that's just what works for me, I don't presume my choices make
    me superior to others who've chosen differently... except people with the subject dead center every shot, and chronic
    backstabbers--they need to switch to badminton or maybe Popsicle-stick sculpture :)
  100. Allen Herbert if I am using my 21mm I dont see anything that I can't use my 21mm for..understand ?? why woudl across the street if I cant shoot it in teh first place?
    If you had a zoom 18mm to whatever it would open up more doors of opportunity. Not really rocket science to undertand, Petey. If a photograph has the zoom effect, by that i suppose you mean the far away what. Surley it's more about the content of the photo, not what lens or cam ,or, how it was taken. Now don't get me wrong, i'm all for using a wide angle lens and being part of the street not a far away observer,however, that extra focal length on a zoom can be very useful.
  101. Okay, I'll give away my most useful one thus far...
    Use a cell phone! No, not the crappy camera on the cell phone, but use it to make people think you are talking on the phone and they won't really notice you have a camera at your hip that you're shooting with. I used to drink a cup of coffee, but the coffee would run out so fast and by the time I was done shooting, I'd be wired.
    Practice shooting from the hip. For me, this method only works in portrait mode, but when I am trying to capture individual, interesting people rather than scenes, it is the perfect method.
    I use a Ricoh GR-D II in MF mode for the fastest response. I've also found that with the LCD off, there is a .1 sec delay as compared to when the LCD is on, both in MF mode and snap mode, so I now keep the LCD on all the time and carry lots of spares.
    Another advantage to using a cell phone is that people won't bother you. The hard thing is figuring out things to say on the phone. I may go crazy one day talking to myself so much.
    Here's some of my photos taken with this method:
  102. Okay, I'll give away my most useful one thus far...
    Use a cell phone! No, not the crappy camera on the cell phone, but use it to make people think you are talking on the phone and they won't really notice you have a camera at your hip that you're shooting with. I used to drink a cup of coffee, but the coffee would run out so fast and by the time I was done shooting, I'd be wired.
    Practice shooting from the hip. For me, this method only works in portrait mode, but when I am trying to capture individual, interesting people rather than scenes, it is the perfect method.
    I use a Ricoh GR-D II in MF mode for the fastest response. I've also found that with the LCD off, there is a .1 sec delay as compared to when the LCD is on, both in MF mode and snap mode, so I now keep the LCD on all the time and carry lots of spares.
    Another advantage to using a cell phone is that people won't bother you. The hard thing is figuring out things to say on the phone. I may go crazy one day talking to myself so much.
    Here's some of my photos taken with this method:
  103. Alex, talking on a cell phone. I love it.
  104. Alex, Nicely composed, awesome snaps.
  105. Surely it's more about the content of the photo, not what lens or cam ,or, how it was taken. Now don't get me wrong, i'm all for using a wide angle lens and being part of the street not a far away observer,however, that extra focal length on a zoom can be very useful.
    How something looks is what photography is about..street and zoom don't go buddy ya gota be in there just almost touching or just on the very edge of the not there, thats the best pics - easy to test my hypothesis - show me one telephoto pic that works as street ...just one.
    Ps Merry Christmas
  106. Earlier, I wrote about the random quality of photos taken without actually composing them in the viewfinder. Sometimes the results are quite surprising and certainly not what you would have gotten shooting conventionally.
  107. Although I'm not into stealth I find that using a Ricoh GRD2 makes one look like an innocous tourist. The other thing that helps is using the LCD monitor on this camera rather than an optical finder in that people don't really know when you're taking a picture. I use the LCD roughly to establish the edges of the frame and look directly at the subject when pressing the shutter.





  108. I just wanted to add that the above three pictures are taken very close up, 0.8-1.0 metres. The second one is taken with the 21mm EFOV converter for the GRD2.
  109. A lot of good advice from good shooters here. But I think the best advice is to be aggressive and not be shy about going after the pictures you want. You can also pick a busy spot, put the camera to your eye, and shoot away as people enter the frame. I used that method for the following portfolio on a specific corner in the red-light district of Tijuana, Mexico.
    But after a while I gave up candid work because I found the people on the street way to fascinating not to engage them. And then I asked permission to photograph them. Check out my YouTube video of "street portraits" and see if this type of street photography appeals to you. Best of luck. -- Dick Sanders
  110. @ Steve Asprey - Steve, what "greats" have you learned from? Last I recall, Walker Evans, who universally would be labled a a "great", shot one of the most significant candid photography books ever made with a camera through a button hole in his coat. It's not about some macho concept of bravery, it's about the kind of shots you want to get. I am definately not, typically, a "stealth" shooter, but I don't ascribe to any such shooting rules as I don't see a valid basis for them. Seeing the photo is much more important than how you get the shot..
  111. 2nd what Mitch has to say. The GRD's are incredibly naturally stealthy. I just point and shoot mine and no seems to notice.
  112. Barry Fisher [​IMG] [​IMG] , Dec 29, 2008; 05:22 p.m.
    .. It's not about some macho concept of bravery, it's about the kind of shots you want to get. I am definately not, typically, a "stealth" shooter, but I don't ascribe to any such shooting rules as I don't see a valid basis for them. Seeing the photo is much more important than how you get the shot..​
    Well said, Barry.
  113. There are no rules, but long lenses tend to fall into the trap of making things look remote and distant, not necessarily because the photographer intended it that way. Here's a street type pic I remember working well though, shot with with a 90 on 35mm film:
  114. "show me one telephoto pic that works as street ...just one"
    It really a massive stretch of the imagination to claim that not a single street photograph works unless it is taken with a wise angle lens. We are now moving from photography to religious zeal. I'm curious at what focal length the zoom stops working? 50 mm,75 mm,90 mm.135 mm,150 mm etc. Okay at extreme lengths you do get that faraway look but you also get distortion with wide-angle lenses.
    Reality is there is no book of rules,no right or wrongs,just what works.
    Three photos which i took at various focal lengths...yes, it would have been nice to be closer but sometimes it's just impossible. Why let an interesting photo opportunity go just adhere to some rules you have made up in your head,Petey.
    Happy new year mate,and to all.
  115. Sure, Allen, there are no rules and you can use whatever focal length you like; but I must say that I've seen better pictures from you than these three -- for me only the second one even begins to work. Again, you can use whatever you like, but for me it's virtually impossible to be "involved" with what is going on in the scene if I don't shoot with a 50mm EFOV lens or less: even with 75mm I find I'm too far away. My favourite focal lengths are 21, 28 and 40mm EFOV.
    And the 28mm focal lenght really grew on me after I got a Rich GRD a couple of years ago: at first it was very difficult to use this focal length, as I had used 35mm and moved to 50mm as my most used focal length. But, then, when I got a Ricoh GX100, which has a "stepped zoom" facility, which allows you to step from 21 to 28, 35, 50 and 72mm EFOV in discrete steps, I expected to be shooting mainly at 35 and 50mm, but found that the bulk of my shots were at 28mm. The latter focal length is very popular in Japan, perhaps because so many Japanese street photographers use it.
    You can see my Bangkok Hysteria© book project, most if which is shot at 28mm, by
    <a href=""><u>clicking here</u>.</a>
  116. Seems like photonet has changed how you make a link. The url I wanted the link to was this:
  117. This is one of my favorite pics - obviously I could never have taken it by approaching the woman to inform her of my presence. I generaly get the best results by staying discrete, I used a compact for all the pics in my portfolio though. I've recently upgraded to a DSLR and might have to rethink my techniques.

    For this one I knew the girls and waited around long enough for them to start ignoring me and my camera...

    This couple actually stopped me and asked if I could take a pic of them...
    <center><img src=""></center>
  118. Arguments here have become rather circular it seems. Street photography is bound by some rules and the most important one is a workable distance. To a certain extent which lens is used isn't that important. But as a general "rule" working fairly close to your subject is paramount.
  119. I wonder did Jack Welsh get any pictures of the screaming lady on the Amtrak, I know I would have made it worth the embarressment and got a few shots.... LOL
  120. I had a horribly experience with street photography, our teacher assigned us to a certain part of town and we were told to spend 4 hrs and shoot pics.... does not matter what we shoot, as long as all the pics are somehow related.... I teamed up with another girl, we met at 8AM, and by 9 AM, we have been threatened by 4 different men, ( and at the time, we were not even shooting, just walking around with a camre ) the threats were anywhere from busting our camre up to busting our faces up... we decided to take pics of buildings, still was not good enough, we were harrassed the whole time, hindside I think, that happened because basicly we broke every rule of self defense. First of all, women alone had no busines to be on that part of town alone on the street, second walking around with a two thousand dollar equipment hanging around our neck.. asking to be robbed, third, be mindful of your surranding, don't act pre-occupied, well, we were trying to concentrate on our project... so on so on... I would just warn female photographers, use common sense, no photo worth to die over, or even to get robbed ot raped... those people were harrassing us because they knew, they can intimitate us, still not worth it !
  121. A few months ago I was shooting a fraternity/sorority party in a local bar that wanted some pics for their website. This was at the request of the owner, who had told the frat people what I was doing, and they were fine with it.
    While not strictly a street photography situation, a bit of a ruckus was started when I went outside the bar to take some exterior shots of the bar and the partyers outside.
    While wandering around the front of the bar shooting at random, some guys began yelling to me to "C'mere, hurry!!". As it turned out, the guys wanted me to take some pictures of one of the sorority sisters relieving herself of her stomach contents on the side of the bar. (With one of the other girls holding her hair out the line of fire.)
    Since most of the frat guys were pretty well into inebriation, and way larger than I am, I shot in the general direction of where this was taking place, but with none of the participating sisters anywhere near the frame. (Shooting someone in that condition is something I just wouldn't do.)
    However, one of the girls in the group saw me taking pics and pretty much went ballistic, with plenty of yelling and threats of lawyers and cops, etc. When several other folks joined in, I grabbed a bouncer and had him get the owner, who then joined in the fun.
    When it was over, we had discussed the whole incident with the angry sorority sister, the president of the fraternity, the vice-president of The Greek Society (?), and several additional persons whose blood alcohol levels were well above the legal limit, but just wanted to express themselves.
    I ended up deleting the non-photos and promised that I would e-mail ALL the photos I had taken of that night to Mr. Vice President. I did and the frats and all the sisters were never heard from again.
    After this incident, I try to be really careful around strangers who are not at their best.
  122. Ilona, remarkable experience. Where did this take place?
  123. Ton Mestrom [​IMG] , Dec 30, 2008; 05:54 p.m.
    Arguments here have become rather circular it seems. Street photography is bound by some rules and the most important one is a workable distance. To a certain extent which lens is used isn't that important. But as a general "rule" working fairly close to your subject is paramount.​
    Ilona's post isn't. What an amazing account!
    BTW, if someone is going to snap a picture with the subject smack in the middle of the frame, it does not matter they use a wide angle, tele, close, open/hidden, whatever. They all result in the same thing. :)
  124. Wow, I really need to venture outside of the Pentax forum. Personally, I love street shooting. Next to wildlife, it is my fav.
    I know there are many folks who have never done any street shooting and in particular capturing a stranger...
    For those that have, you know the rush and excitement in doing so. For those that have not, you don't know what your missing...

    These are my opinions and should not be considered Gospel... ''My definition'' of Street photography is not simply a ''snap shot'' but it is photograph. It is well framed, well composed and tells a story. It will contain a stranger or a candid image of a person…...Of course there are plenty of acceptations as sometimes there is no time and a quick grab shot is all there is…I have these as well and I am glad I have them…Portraits are another type of street shot that I enjoy.

    Personally, I do not like to shoot people for the sake of shooting people...Even though I go to the beach allot, as I like walking the pier and boardwalks, I don't believe in shooting girls or guys in bikinis, I do not like to shoot homeless folks (if anything, I make it a point to help them as much as I can), I don't like shooting kids I don't know, but when I do, I will show the parents the image and at that point ask them if they would like me to delete it or e mail it to them.. But as a rule, I try not to shoot kids.. In saying this, There are others who do and that is fine by me…To each his own…

    I think there is a real ''ART'' to street shooting..Capturing strangers is not as easy as it looks. In fact it is very hard and at times, you will be caught and as a friend of mine says…From time to time, You get those ‘’I am going to give you a butt kicking look’’...but those turn out to be some of the best captures.... Anyway, I would say, if you have never done it or tried it, then you have no idea what you’re missing. It really is allot of fun. Just be careful and be ready to run... 8~) LOL...
    I have a thread going here of some of my street shots.
    And I have a new one I started on today here.
    I also have a great article by John Owens here...
  125. ...capturing strangers is not as easy as it looks...
    Absolutely agree!
    But what's more difficult is making what's captured stand out. As my journey into sp continues, I've been more and more picky as to what photos make the cut (in my opinion of course).... and find that the "results" have dwindled dramatically. There are so many photos of people crossing the street, sitting at a cafe, sleeping on a bench, strolling on the sidewalk (these are not aimed @ any one).... but what makes these shots good sp? Is it the use of light, the angle, the dress, facial expression, the faux fur coat... is it the composition, the way the subject is interconnected with the surroundings, the spacial relationships in the frame....? When reviewing your images, ask yourself what makes it "work" - there's lots to learn from that.
  126. There are so many photos of people crossing the street, sitting at a cafe, sleeping on a bench, strolling on the sidewalk (these are not aimed @ any one).... but what makes these shots good sp?​
    Yes; and an excellent question...
    If a photo doesn't have the ability to release or suggest some kind of interesting narrative, or pose questions or suggest mystery to draw in a viewer, then what's the point? I don't understand the "here's a guy walking down the sidewalk I snapped when he walked by" type photos. Yes, there's a person and a street, and the shutter was pressed when he walked by, but that's about it...
  127. "...that's about it..."
    Don't get me wrong - I have many of these myself as well as the cafe & park bench shots... and despite being different from one another with respect to subject matter, they're all the same in that they evoke absolutely nothing. Flat lighting, uninteresting characters, no interaction, etc.... many, many shots in my collection = boring, mundane shots.
  128. Well, the OP's question is completely lost on some, it seems.
    If someone is technically capable of making a shot does not automatically mean every snap from him/her will become an instant classic. Even the most celebrated of photographers of any genre is no exception to this.
    If any of you have a "formula" that produces such a result, keep that a secret and profit from it. :)
  129. Well, the OP's question is completely lost on some, it seems.​
    Really? Where? I see no evidence of that. Everybody has weighed in with a number of different approaches. Like any lengthy forum discussion, tangents are not unexpected.
    Even the most celebrated of photographers of any genre is no exception to this.​
    Yes, and that's what editing is for. And "the most celebrated" do that well.

  130. Really? Where? I see no evidence of that.​
    Questions and a conclusion.
    The answer:
    Like any lengthy forum discussion, tangents are not unexpected.​
    Amusing. :)
  131. ...lost on who?
  132. >>> ...lost on who?

    My question as well...
  133. Isn't it lost on whom?
  134. ...yeah I think that's correct, Barry...
    Must be the Asian in me...
    Now I'm tersty.. where's that Pefsi? ;)
  135. Allen - come street shooting with me one time and I'll have you sorted in a a couple of hours..starting with binning any lens longer than 50 buddy ! LOL
    PS the word 'stealth' is lame.
  136. Peter A , Jan 04, 2009; 06:33 a.m.
    PS the word 'stealth' is lame.
    Allen - come street shooting with me one time and I'll have you sorted in a a couple of hours..starting with binning any lens longer than 50 buddy ! LOL
    This is an interesting statement because it is so true. But it is a progression. Most start out with telephoto lenses and graduate to to primes. 70mm, then 50mm then 35mm or so. I find myself using lenses between 18 and 50mm these days. Actually my 10-20 sigma is also a great lens for this...It is actually easier to capture more scenes with a short wide angle, that a telephoto. But it requires confidence and courage.​
  137. Cool, Petey, as long as we don't have to stand on street corners taking banal photos of people walking by.
    You are the man;)
  138. These generalities keep floating around, constructive really to nobody. If you masters of the genre want to critique photos, pick a photo and be specific. Quit dancing around like hula girls without the sex appeal.
  139. Just for you, Ray.
  140. The future of SP techniques?. Helmet,Warning Sign and the means of a fast getaway.
  141. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I already have all three. You can see a photo of my street shooting getup here.
  142. Jeff is that a Panhead Harley?
  143. @Jeff: Talk about discrete - you can hide behind that cape!
    @Ray: I'd never call myself an expert on sp (or anything photography related) but rather just another enthusiast. Here's a photo... 2 people crossing the street on a rainy london morning...
    ..& here's my critique: Boring as he!!... nothing going on... nothing stands out... uninteresting & the tilt doesn't work. Gear? Pentax *ist DS w/ lens set at 17mm I believe. Regardless of the equipment though, this shot doesn't do anything for me - even if it was shot with a Leica... isn't that what good street photogs use? ;)
  144. After a night of partying
  145. Looking at a fire from the freeway overpass.
  146. I've got you beat, JY. People + street + stealthy!!!
  147. Hi... first time poster!!
    I love reading these advice threads, but one thing that I would just throw out there is that for some of us (myself included), I'm just not confident enough to blatantly take photos of people, no matter how hard I try.
    Since I shoot with a digital SLR I found it really hard to get into street photography, but once I 'devolved' back to a compact digital I found that could get the shots really easily... to the point that I can be sat opposite someone at a table or on the tube and take there photo without them noticing!
    A lot of people might think that this is stupid but like other posters said it's all about misdirection. Do something completely obvious with one hand (play with your keys or your phone, drum on the wall etc) while you subtly take the photo with the other...
    now here's a trick that people might think is obsessive, but I'm toying with the idea. Basically I've rigged a small compact mirror at a 45 degree angle to my camera's LCD screen. What this means is that I can shoot from the hip but before I do I can take a peek from above and check that everything's framed properly. Basically it's a ghetto right angle viewfinder :)
    I'm only toying around with street photography at the moment but it seems to be working!
  148. >>>Basically it's a ghetto right angle viewfinder :)<<<
    We used to call them waist level finders. Been around about a hundred years so far. ;)

Share This Page