What do YOU look for when "Street" shooting?

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by melissa_eiselein, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. In searching through recent past posts, I think we can agree that
    street shooting is multi-faceted and can mean different things to
    different people.

    I'm curious what the individual PN photographers hope to find when
    out street shooting. Do you look for people with interesting faces?
    Do you look for people doing everyday things? Or do you look for
    something out of the ordinary? Is there any particular street shots
    that really interest you more than others?

    Some of you, I think, look for pretty young girls to photograph and
    impress with your photo (and other) skills but that's a whole other
    subject. LOL
  2. I look for interestng things going on, or some type of event. If I see an interesting person, I will sometimes take the shot, sometimes ask if I can take their portrait. Mostly though, I like to look for the unusual going on.
  3. Sometimes faces
  4. And, sometimes social commentary
  5. I normally don't look for a scene but rather wandering aimlessly and if most of the time I don't even know why I'm taking the photos. Probably because that scene amuse/upsets/confuses me or something related to my emotion at that time. For example, I like this shot because I was suffering from the cold, wet and windy days in winter. To other people, it might be just a snapshot not worth keeping.
    Some of you, I think, look for pretty young girls to photograph and impress with your photo (and other) skills but that's a whole other subject. LOL
    Eh...guilty as charged. But so far they are not impressed (they won't see the photo anyway). Most likely they will think "What a pervert! Taking photos of me without permission!"
  6. I sorta look for something unexpected, kind of idiosyncratic events, that call attention to themselves and interupt what I thought I was looking for beforehand.

    I always pay attention to what's happening with the light also.
  7. as in all genre's of photography, I look for the light first. Now that could be light that already has the subject in it, or it could be that the way the light falls is right, and I wait for someone to walk into it.

    ...then what catches my eye....in that light.

    The real answer though is I shoot what I see...if it makes enough of an impression on me, I shoot it. And, honestly, it dont take much at all for me to press the button.

    But, you have to be open to anything. Everytime your mind asks "should I shoot this".....the answer is YES. Even if the shot fails, figuring out later why it failed is invalualble information for the next time.
  8. Thomas Sullivan says: >>>>But, you have to be open to anything. Everytime your mind asks "should I shoot this".....the answer is YES. Even if the shot fails, figuring out later why it failed is invalualble information for the next time.>>>>

    Tom - This is just excellent practical advice. Hits home with me. I'd call it "profound," but though I've never met you my sense is you'd cringe at that label.

    No wonder you excel at this.
  9. I just keep my eyes and mind open and my finger on the shutter. When something trips my brain, the shutter reflex is not immediate, but the decision to shoot is. The decision is entirely intuitive/emotive for me - no morality or hidden motives - I see something that captures my attention, any attention (repulsion, pity, amusement, admiration,...) and I start to maneuver to catch it - sometimes immediately, and sometimes by readying myself while waiting for some moment of interaction, and sometimes by slowing, turning around or moving to get a better angle.

    Like Tom, light is a big thing I notice, but less frequently do I wait very long for the right actor to appear on the scene. Being more patient is a very good strategy, practiced by some of the greats, but I just don't do it that often - I'm usually impatient to be moving on, looking for the next, different, opportunity.

    Part of the enjoyment of doing this is getting a great shot, but the greater is the pleasure that accompanies the zen-like state of heightened sensitivity I feel when sauntering about.
  10. One thing I look for is the contextural interaction of one or more persons within a particular location. I enjoy observing people sans camera, learning about their use of locational space, and then anticipating their actions for image capture. I am never concerned about being "ever-ready" for fear of "missing a shot". I miss an infinite number of "shots" while I sleep, while I'm "here" and not "there", and while I type on the PC, so I don't care about what's going on while I'm "not ready" to shoot. However, I do feel disappointment when what I am anticipating to recur doesn't occur. But learning to anticipate behavior is what makes street photography a most rewarding experience.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    What do YOU look for when "Street" shooting?
    Criminal activity.
  12. i didnt know you shot self portraits jeff.... <img src="http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons6/19.gif">
  13. I have greatly enjoyed all these answers and the photos that are included with them. Kris, you're shot is great. I love the wet look of the street and empty chairs. The woman with the umbrella is icing on the cake. Did you wait long for her to come by?

    It seems, to me anyway, that street photography is very personal. More personal than portraits, landscapes or still life. Street photography is about what moves the photographer. What one photographer might see as interesting or unusual can be mundane to another photographer.

    I live in a mid-sized Southern California community. We have no tall buildings or fire escapes. Few rainy days and, unfortunately, not enough cloudy blue skies either. I guess this is why I'm so taken by street shots of others. What I really need to do is find something that could be considered interesting or unusual on my own streets.
  14. Melissa, the magic of light and shadow is universal, even if not at all times. Although a pretty young girl doesn't hurt this photo, the character of the wall shadow actually beckoned that I wait for just the "right" subject to walk into the "frame". By the way, this was shot within an indoor shopping mall, an extension of "street" that is probably available to you, too...
  15. kris, would you mind letting us know what camera/ film combination your picture was taken with, ive just spent a good 5 minutes staring at the texture and sharpness of those chairs! my b&w doesnt seem to end up like that. has the image been altered at all in photoshop? sorry to bug you and sorry for going off topic but im trying to learn all i can at the moment. thanks again all
  16. From what I see on here you just need people, outside of their homes. They don't have to be doing anything but just as long as they are outside of their homes then it's probably street photography. If you can have a sidewalk and the wall of a building as the background all the better. It's more 'street' with concrete. As you can see above it's also helpful to have a prop or some other noticeable object to juxtapose with that person. Or, the easiest way is to find a suitable background...like a wall with posters, and just let the people walk past and photograph them that way. You have them sharp or with motion blur. If you can superimpose them with a poster that shows irony, such as a homeless person and a Guess ad then you add social commentary to the photo. No longer is it just a photo of a person but now it brings the question of a class system to the forefront of everyone's mind.

    However, personally I prefer photos of pretty girls. If you are going to photograph people doing nothing they might as well be young, pretty and hopefully wearing low riders :)
  17. i agree with andy
  18. Grant: pffff!
  19. "on here" is what gives andy away. writing styles don't change with the names ;)
  20. I do what some people call non-photo. It's a style of street photography that goes
    against any rules in photography. It's pretty simple but you must need a manual
    camera. You can't focus, you can't use meters, and you can't use your view finder.
    All you use is the shutter release and your eyes to see the image. Set the camera at a
    set focal length and walk to and away of the shot to estimate the focus. And that's
    all. Snap away and you'll be amazed at the out come.
  21. lets see some amazing examples
  22. Faces and backgrounds.
  23. For me it's all of the above. The worst thing I think is to limit oneself to a particular theme. Why limit yourself? You may miss out on something else while your mind is planted in a narrow field. I think the more a person shoots in the street, the better they become i.e. the better eyes they develop. I've been doing street for years, but mainly with a camera that had auto everything. All I had to do was press a little on the shutter release and the camera did everything else. This was a good way for me to learn what kind of shots I go for. For the most part, I like getting close and keeping my focus on a individual. Rarely does my street shots include more then several people. I think the most important factor in street shooting is to really know your camera. I cannot tell you how many times I thought I had a real winner of a shot as I pressed the shutter release only to print up my contact sheets and see my shot lost due to freshman mistakes like over/under exposure, camera shake ect. So make sure you have a handle on photography in general or you'll be kicking yourself like I am over all the should-have-been great shots that of course you'll probably never be able to take again.
  24. Andy who?
  25. can someone show me how to post images so i could show some samples of non-
  26. "I cannot tell you how many times I thought I had a real winner of a shot as I pressed the shutter release only to print up my contact sheets and see my shot lost due to freshman mistakes like over/under exposure, camera shake ect."
    Marc, you just described my last vacation! Photography is not my forte. But that's OK, really enjoy it regardless of the mediocrity of my pictures.
    Let me see if I can remember how to do this without going through the steps. Click on "Contribute answer" then type a short blurb...or I use the space key once if I have nothing to say with my upload. Then hit submit. That will take you to the "confirm" message page. DON'T confirm yet! Scroll down just a bit and you'll see a browse button. Hit the button and search for the file on your computer. Select the file and click "open". That will put the file source in the formerly empty box. Now, type in a short caption and hit confirm. Voila, an uploaded photo. Mine is of some little girls getting made up in a Mervyn's parking lot.
  27. I've just finished a set of pictures entitled, "Bags, Labels and Logos - Consumer Culture and Identity" - subtitle, "Tribal emblems and totems in the Age of Retail Therapy". I've been chasing around photographing people shopping and their armfuls of bags and clothes sporting 'top-end' labels such as French Connection, Calvin Klein etc. I'm fascinated by the way people can be persuaded to part with money for something just because it has a particular name attached.

    I do photograph young girls - indeed my last two submissions for the National Portrait Gallery/Schweppes Prize included young girls. Mind you I'm very selective - I prefer to shoot pairs of girls in the 14/15 age range to try to capture that special and fleeting relationship that exists. My aim is not to impress them but to capture them at that moment, that all too brief moment which comes and goes like cherry blossom. This year I also photographed a young (15/16-ish) boy who was very good-looking (sort of longish blonde hair, West Coast/Australian surfer) who was dressed in this ankle-length black velvet coat and shredded jeans.

    I'm just fascinated by people and fashions. I do look for the 'out-of-the-ordinary' - I'm trying to arrange a shoot with the local 'Goths' at a large Victorian cemetery, but organising teenagers can be a nightmare, you know, trying to get four of them to arrive at an agreed place at an agreed time, doesn't sit well in the teenage mind.

    And then there's the general defensiveness which seems to have pervaded society. When I was in my teens being photographed was seen as a great caper - but then I grew up in the sixties seeing the work of such as Bailey, Snowdon, Lichfield, Donovan, McCullin and the other greats.
  28. P.S. - Brad, love that picture! Who is that character?
  29. I often look for shapes and forms in the arrangements of people in public places. Sometimes it's geometric and easily recognizable. Other times it's abstract but recognizable after some consideration. Sometimes it's a sort of tableau that seems apparent only to me and perhaps no one else.
  30. Or, a mall rat's eye view.
  31. I look for famous old people. [​IMG] Oh, this is Studs Terkel.
  32. jrl


    I look for views, I look for stories. Sometimes I look to the street it's self. The archetecture. Sometimes, I get the charicters of a story when I develop that I haddn't seen through the view finder.
    This shot was just a shot of the street, but looking at the people there is a story. The old guy in the mac seems like a visiter from the past next to the bright young things out in July shopping.
  33. <img src="/bboard/image?bboard_upload_id=19171584">
    I look for geometry.
  34. Light, angles, people thrown into the mix...
  35. Mellisa, to your question if I waited for a woman with an umbrella to take the shot, the answer is no. I was walking and saw the woman with umbrella and the empty wet chairs and grab the shot without much thinking. If you look carefully, the focus is on the chairs rather than on the woman. Whether or not that's good for the photo is questionable.
  36. I look for Starbucks
  37. > Sam, you like it; you got it.
  38. Hey Randy, did you shoot that with an 8x10 to give yourself some sort of false air of legitimacy?

    Just wundrin.
  39. What makes you think she's underage?
  40. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Since you don't seem to be able to shoot people from the front, we'll probably never know.
  41. Well, as long as she's at least one day over 18, then I guess it's okay to treat her as a sexual object.

    My bad.
  42. But, Jeff, if I post one of the shots from the front, someone will get on my case for invasion of privacy. You, perhaps! Besides, trust me, this lady looked best from the back. :) And Andrew, yes, she was too old for the chicken hawks. A butt like that isn't built in a day.

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