Street photography tactics

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Joshua Cairns, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Joshua Cairns

    Joshua Cairns TalkEmount Regular

    Oct 12, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    I was wondering if any of you have some standard settings/approaches for street photography with your NEX cameras.

    Whether that be lenses you use, creative styles, shooting modes, general tactics, etc.

    Interested to hear what you do!
  2. nianys

    nianys TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    I don't do much street as I rather dislike the genre, but if I did, the tilting screen would be my ally. Just tilt and shoot from the waist with a widish lens (24mm ?) set to F8. At that aperture you get enough DOF that you can estimate your focus without any specific aid (actually peaking would be rather detrimental and "pollute" the screen).
    I use Landcape at -1 Contrast for everything except native monochrome, for which I just use the standard "Black&White" Creative style (comes out a little flat though, you might be better off shooting in color and converting in PP, especially if you have the awesome Silver FX, which I don't). A quick and dirty program that I love is Snapseed, the B&W conversion tool is amazingly simple yet works very well.

    Aside from that I'd use the two ends of the spectrum as attitude goes : totally locked inside your own bubble 90% shooting (no eye contact thanks to tilt screen) and discreet but polite request of subject's clearance (just looking someone, slightly raising the camera along with your eyebrows in an interrogative stance, while smiling, works wonders). That's Kirk Tuck's approach to street portraits, and he's a master at it.

    I'd also use manual mode and get proper exposure by tweaking shutter speed, after making an educated decision about ISO. NEX cameras are great for looking all touristy and unconspicuous ;)
  3. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    I don't really shot this way much either, but have stumbled onto situations where I wanted to take a few.

    I will voice my thoughts on a few things I have observed.

    1- Don't try and be too sneaky. You don't want to be perceived as the creep sneaking around trees and get security called on you. An honest face and clear intentions go a long way.

    2- Share with your subject if you get a strange look. I was with my wife and kid at the park and took a few shots which included an unknown kid. I noticed the parent looking a bit strange at me so I walked over, introduced myself and showed them the shots. No issue.

    3- If you are going for super discrete however, the NEX's swivel screen is a great help. Also as much as I love manual focusing, that extra arm up in the air draws a lot of attention. Using your AF lens and keeping interactions to the camera at a minimum reduces the likelihood of notice.
  4. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Wait for Freddytto to chime in... he's our resident street-shooting aficionado!


    Anyway, here's my 2 cents...

    I agree with Nianys, shooting at waist level with the NEX seems to disarm people (even animals) - the NEX's small size already causes people to ignore you (dismiss you) anyway, to begin with. I think the body language of a waist shooter makes people think that you are just checking your equipment and that your attention is not directed towards them.

    Without the camera on my face, these ducks allowed me to get abnormally close for some strange reason. This pic below was right up close and personal with a 16mm! I was stooped-down holding the camera just a couple of inches off the ground, so I guess you can call that 'ankle-shooting.' Haven't tried shooting this low with people yet, lol. :D

  5. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    Street Photograpy is the type of photography that interprets scenes of stunning photos every day, capturing the essence of the people in the middle that is unfolding, observing their movement behavior, traffic ... capturing a moment of our daily lives. Is achieved with the charisma, simplicity, fitness, joy and feelings that people can pass through the lens.

    Nex5n and 16mm
    Under the stairs,It's bad luck? by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr

    Henry Cartier Bresson, a photographer who I like too much his work,definitely shaped me as a photographer, he did some amazing pictures with his trusty Leica, capture at the right time to give a great story in each of his photographs.

    When Henri Cartier-Bresson would talk about “The Decisive Moment” he said sometimes it would be spontaneous but others times he had to be patient and wait for it. Regardless he was very methodological when he would go out and shoot, and would only keep his images if every element of his image (people, background, framing, and composition) were perfect. I even read that he would cover his chrome Leica in black tape and even sometimes with a hankerchief to make it less noticeable when he was out shooting.
    Be unobtrusive

    Be unobtrusive. Many times people get nervous and there are moments that can feel offended, like violated their privacy, and don't blame them, because a lot of photographers o people used for sell, well, we have to be careful and if someone feels offended try to delete the photo and respect his descision. I have a technique, especially use the camera and bend the screen, at a height over the waist, like them mention it before, people think we have no interest in them.

    Untitled by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr
    What is street photography or urban? Photographing a city or town goes far beyond the typical capture and busiest places all captured in famous photographs, is to go beyond the architecture, unique buildings that characterize the place filling lines and spaces of different geometries.

    Use a single shot lens, I use the 28mm( Industar 69 f2.8 ), and 50mm (Minolta rokkor f1.4/f1.7), some times the 18-55mm, very rare, prefer MF , but try to know very well what the lens will capture, I mean you will be able to see natural frame lines in your everyday life, and know exactly how your photos will appear when shooting from certain angles and distances, but I believe with one focal length will help you solidify your artistic vision. If you are using interchangeable lenses is preferable that you use fixed focal length lenses ("primes") and avoid zoom,(you imagine walking down the street with a NEX and a long tele photo), sure you will scare people.

    Industar 69 f2.8 28mm

    Sorpressa¡¡¡¡ by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr

    Walking down in 7 Av by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr

    Pizza by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr
    50mm F/1.4

    Untitled by Freddytto Robles, on Flickr

    The people who inhabit those architectures that enliven the space, giving it a special essence that doing different in each of the cities, so the atmosphere, the air that is created from the combination of both; people + architecture, characterized as unique, special, so these photographs are trying to talk about that place, of their daily life and convey much more information than a single written text. This field of photography has a great advantage. The advantage of having a single scenario in which every day, every minute takes a different scene. In the city nothing is ever the same, every moment there are thousands of things,many people then the street is full of unique and unrepeatable moments that we can hunt. When you are out shooting and you see fascinating scenes, wait for the right person to walk by to complete your image. Although you don’t want to camp out for hours on end to wait for the right moment to occur, practice a bit of patience. You don’t always need to go out and hunt for photo-opportunities. Allow them to come to you.

    anyway my tips are few and simple.

    Be Simple; If you dress like a photographer, dress as you normally do, use a small package for your camera, ideally messenger bag
    Do not worry too much about the light - focus on people, in gestures, in all. Use the Sunny 16 rule - f/16, ISO 400, 320th/segundos on a sunny day and your photos going to look great.
    Don't take photos, take stories
    Do not make excuses, get out there and take pictures
    Do not make eye contact with people, try to be discreet
    Less planning,you get better result.

    hope this helps greetings to all ..

    ;) I hope to see very soon street photography
  6. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    For street photography, yes I can say that this seems to work for me too. :)

    I do plan to go to a certain place to shoot, but what I'll shoot exactly when I get there depends on what unfolds in front of me.. that's as far as my plan goes. I don't press my way into a good situation, so I come home relaxed and refreshed from a stroll - with or without photos.

    Going back to topic about NEX-specific tips (manual focus), sometimes as a challenge I will deliberately bring only 1 lens so that I won't be distracted by any optional decisions with my camera. It also forces me to have only 1 approach to any potential shot that may come my way. Another advantage of taking a familiar prime lens is that I can pre-focus it at a specific distance. I choose a distance that I can estimate easily, so I walk up to that point before I raise my camera to my face then take the shot. At f11 I don't even bother focusing, but if I need/want shallow DOF with wider apertures - the critical focus will only be a little nudge away. This is where the NEX focus peaking works so well as a confirmation that I've 'distanced' myself correctly. When I view the NEX screen (waist or eye level), the subject should already be showing peaks.

    I exclusively use a wrist strap on my 5N (a neck strap somehow seems to attract more attention) and walk casually with it, already switched on with my finger ready on the shutter button. Whether shooting AF or MF, the 5N never stays on my chosen subject for more a few moments then it's straight back down to my side. I don't hang around, I move on in search of the next shot.

    Sample of walking up to a pre-focused distance...

  7. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    That's true, when I go for a walk around town, I try to enjoy the ride, and if see anything interesting I try to press the shutter quickly, and try to keep the opening according to what I want, I use the neck strap in the nex7 so always keep under my arm and go unnoticed.

    So it is important to have your camera ready for the time of shooting. This can be frustrating at first because it will not be very well the first photos and will have to be corrected values ​​by trial and the fault depending on the light.

    You know, the important thing is practice, practice, the more you practice, you'll have better pictures and less testing will be done, as well get used to the reaction of the people and you will realize that might not be as unpleasant as you thought.

    Sample of walking up to a pre-focused distance .. I also use this tip, for nex5R, I'm using a wrist strap too.

    this photo is very good, the DOF, the sea, I see in the photo is That They are good friends and I guess are retired, have a very good talk, while watching the sunset on a chilly evening at the edge of the pier, surrounded by seagulls.
    I keep hearing the song of the seagulls and the waves, I can hear the boats too.
  8. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    The first thing that I do when attempting street photography is to grab my E-M5, so I can't tell you much about how you'd use a NEX for the same thing. One thing that I often like to do is add some context by including both people and their surroundings in an image. Some of the images seen so far in this thread are good examples of that. For me this fulfills the documentary-style aspect of street photography more so than the up-close-and-personal approach that seems to have become increasingly popular.

    Another thing; don't limit yourself to the traditional high-contrast, grainy b&w look. Shoot in raw or at the very least in colour jpeg and decide how it would be best presented later.
  9. Luiz Curcino

    Luiz Curcino TalkEmount Veteran

    Apr 27, 2012
    Uberlandia-MG Brasil
    I loved these good advice about street photography. I have tried to make some pictures of the street, but still need to train hard to achieve better photos. Thanks to all friends who already have experience and can share with us.
  10. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    Hey guy's watch this video, I am a fan of these guys, you might learn something

  11. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    ^ Prime rule for me in street photography is Respect coupled with Situational Awareness. This guy nearly hits pedestrians in the face while waving his monstrous DSLR around!! (00:56)

    "Personally I don't like to look photograper-ish either..." Oh really?? He should check what he looks like walking around at (2:22)

    Sorry Freddytto, I'm not a fan of this guy... but I'm a fan of yours though! :)
  12. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    In general, I leave children, the disabled and the homeless alone.
  13. 6so

    6so TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 18, 2012
    For me, you can't go wrong with Z-man.
    Need to keep an open mind on subjects.There are many do's and don'ts, at the end is how you sees it. Bruce Gilden can be really intimidating in his technique while Jay Maisel work his shot like a zen master.
    We're are just merely an observer with a box that happens to take a picture of the moment. Some shots just come effortlessly to you while some you need to chase for it. The real challenge is finding a connection to tell a larger story in your shots.
  14. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    I mea not a really fan, I like this guys, they are so funny, and about with a big DSLR is true
  15. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    Zaca Arias he's really good...
  16. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Yes, he really is!

    I like the way Zack inter-acts and chats with his subjects... he treats them as people, not objects. His pics of that blue-haired woman next to the blue phone booth (4:46 - 4:51) is just sublime! He just pulled-off a studio quality shot, out of nowhere - impromptu on the street!!! Plus it's a photo-given not a photo-taken, I really like that...
  17. 6so

    6so TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 18, 2012
    Bruce Gilden - A Magnum Photos member and a ballsy photographer to boot.
    "If you can smell the street by looking at the photo....It's a street photograph."
  18. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Street shooting tactics? Here's mine:

    1) Pick a deserted street so you don't have to deal with them pesky cars and people and such.


    2) If you're in the car, stop the car before taking the pic. It just works better.


    3) Night time can make for a nice street pics.


    4) It's wise to remember that on busy streets you probably really shouldn't stand in the street to take the pic. A little stand off distance is advisable for repeat performances.


    That's it. I hope you've found these street shooting tactics helpful. :cool:

    Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. :p
  19. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    "Part of me wants to apoligize, I'm sorry... click!" - Zack Arias

    "So I don't know, I always respected somebody who can beat you with his mind and also beat you with his fist. For me that's a well rounded person." - Bruce Gilden

    :eek: LOL! :eek:
  20. 6so

    6so TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 18, 2012
    Contnuing videos of master street photographers.
    Daido Moriyama - A celebrated master street photographer.His style is more raw and artistic, bordering on fine art territory a bit.He shoots with ordinary PNS camera right now.
    When I go out into the city I have no plan. I walk down one street, and when I am drawn to turn the corner into another, I do. Really I am like a dog. I decide where to go by the smell of things, and when I am tired, I stop.
    A bit NSFW.
    Here a full documentary about him.Can be a little slow but it's an insight nevertheless.
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