Sunday, July 1, 2018

Street Photography Part 1

I have always been a great observer of people and am 
constantly exploring the human condition.

My favorite way to do that is through the lens of my camera
with street photography!

It's great fun for me to scout public places and photograph
people doing...well, what they are doing!

Capturing a moment in time and showing true expression.

When using my Canon 5d Mark iii camera,
my favorite lens for street photography is the 50mm 1.4.

This basic prime lens captures what your eye is seeing.
If you like wider angles, try a 35mm lens.

But, can use any camera or lens that you have!

I like using my DSLR because I can play
with depth-of-field.

While I have captured some great street shots all over the world
with my DSLR camera...

I am having a fab time with my iPhone camera for street photography!

I have the iPhone 6S-Plus, but I am drooling over the
newer iPhones like the 8-plus and X for their dual lenses.

With a quick click, you can zoom in or use the portrait mode for
shots with depth-of-field.

Meanwhile, if I want to zoom in closer with my 6S-Plus, 
I use the 60mm,  Tele Portrait lens from Moment

It's a great lens, but it's annoying to carry around and
screw it in when you need it!

I miss many good shots this way!

I will purchase the latest model iPhone with the dual camera
when it comes out in September!

Before we get into my tips for capturing stunning street photos,
you need to understand the law and ethics involved.

In America, you are free to photograph people in 
public places, even children.

I know this because I was a broadcast news reporter for 18 years
and every day we photographed people in public then aired it 
on the nightly news!  

If someone approaches you and tells you it is illegal to
take their photo on the street...they are wrong!

Even if a person is on their own property, if they are in view from
public land such as a street or sidewalk, they are fair game.

Just don't trespass onto their property to take their photo!

You can snap photos with people including faces, post them on social media,
blogs, even sell the photos.

But, DON'T try to use a street photo with a face to
advertise something.  For that, you will need a model release.

In all my years of reporting and street photography, I have never once
asked for a model release.  

Yet, if you know you will use a street photo for commercial use, then carry 
model releases with you and get a signature right after you shoot the photo.

Places like stores, malls, museums, and schools seem public,
but they are actually private property.

Thus, whoever owns that property has the right to ban photography.

If you are uncertain and know you will want to share your photos publicly, 
simply ask the manager if you can take pictures.

If I don't see a sign banning photography, I usually go ahead and shoot.

If I'm at all concerned...I shoot from behind so I don't show faces.

In this next photo, I was inside the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France.

Many people were taking photos, so I did, too.

I saw this woman with an endearing hat sitting in the alcove
and I loved the natural light.  I composed my shot and


Well, she heard the click!  She turned around and realized I took a
photo of her.  I smiled and said, "That window is so lovely!" 
She smiled back and gazed out the window again.

This brings us to the ethical side of street photography!

Don't snap or post a photo that will embarrass or hurt someone.

Think of how you would feel if someone snapped a photo of 
your dress blowing up and posted in on Facebook
and then it went viral with a million views!

Don't do that to someone!

Capture a photo they would love...showing the true person.

I prefer to photograph people when they don't know it
because that's when I get the most natural expressions, walking gaits, etc.

If I see someone interesting that I want to photograph, 
I move in closer, stop and look around.

I act like I'm shooting a wider area then 


In this next case, I saw these cute gals taking photos of each other
while sitting on a fancy couch outside a store.

I casually sat down on the bench across from them and with
my iPhone camera, I composed this shot to include the interesting planter,
then sat and waited for an interesting moment.


I never made eye contact with them.  My eyes stayed on the planter and
the girls were not intimidated or had any idea I photographed them!  

I like to hold up my camera and appear to be scanning the area, 
or gazing past my subject. 
Even while pretty much aiming my camera right at them,
 they relax and don't realize they are actually the STAR of the photo!

If they do ask if you took their photo,
tell them you were getting a shot of the street landscape.

I have had a few people who were angry
I took their photo.  

One was with a man in London.  
I kindly explained that I was a tourist
shooting the scenery and he calmed down.

I actually deleted that shot because ethically, I did not want
to use his face when he obviously didn't want to be in the photo.

Then I snapped him from behind as he walked away:

This is why it's best to not make eye contact!
If someone looks alarmed because you're taking a photo,
nod and smile, then look back at the scenery.

If someone asks why I took their photo I tell them
I am practicing street photography.

Most people will brighten and respond to kindness!

If someone is really angry, offer to show them the photo. 
Tell them how great they look and ask if you can email them a copy.

If they are still mad, 
offer to delete the photo, then delete it right in front of them.

Stay calm and kind...don't fight back!

Street photography is scary!

It takes guts to raise your camera and snap a photo of a stranger.
It feels a bit creepy.

I do it because I WANT THE SHOT!

I saw this man in a shop window, painting a sign on the glass.


I moved to the window front and got in close.
Of course, he could see me taking his photo.

He looked up with questioning eyes.  I got nervous...shot fast
and didn't take the time to compose the shot with the sign he was painting.
With the angle, I also can't tell he was painting the lettering.

A lost shot because I didn't have the nerve to get it right!

One way to get the nerve and the shot is to engage with your subject!

I spotted this quirky pink piano on the sidewalk outside a store.

I composed my shot and waited for someone to walk into it.
I was giddy when this guy walked up!


Then, he sat down and started playing!

I knew I wanted to take several shots of him from
various angles, so I told him I was practicing street photography
and asked to take some photos.

He was delighted!

Although you lose a bit of the candid aspect,
you can still get some amazing photos when you chat with the subject!

Now that you understand your rights and your
ethical obligations,
It's time to get out there with your camera!

In Part Two in my series about street photography,
I will share some tips about composition, angles, and more!

Stay tuned...

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