Street photography, in its essence, is the act of photographing the human condition and characteristics in public places.
However, in recent times, it is not limited to that only. More and more street photographers are beginning to capture inanimate objects such as architectural details along the street or objects like trains and bicycles.
Nowadays, the word Mobiography and iPhoneography is trending as photographers are commonly using their iPhone to capture stunning photographs wherever they go. The act of photographing is simplified with the usage of these mobile phones which in itself is already a powerful tool.
Naturally, street photographers take photos of people as the ‘human condition’ in itself is a wide range of emotions, characteristics, and complex.
Every aspect of positivity and negativity that exists in a human being can be photographed and interpreted in many ways, depending on who’s looking at the photograph.
To capture the ‘human condition’ could prove to be quite stressful if you are just beginning to do street photography. Therefore, it’s important to remember that humans are complex creatures whose face can tell a thousand stories. Some carry a tinge of indecisiveness in their eyes that’s mixed with beauty and rage. Everyone’s got a story to tell even though they don’t say it.
However you see it, humans are the most beautiful subject in street photography.
But do not feel compelled to only stick to having humans as your main focus point. Certain inanimate objects can also be depicted as having human ‘characteristics’. If you look above you in the middle of a concrete jungle, you’ll see towers looming above you. They make you feel small and powerless in its cold, insentient presence. (Read: Low-Angle Photography)
Or you could photograph the freedom of a bird flying carefreely above you or the crown shyness of the trees in the park, could translate to the existence of nature around us when we forget that we exist in the same timeframe as them.
Play By The Rules
If you’re trying your hands on photography, it’s important to know that every photo is subjective and not every photo you take will please your viewers. The way you look at the world is different than anyone else, so use your own perspective and make your photos unique.
But it’s vital to play by the rules and remember the fundamentals of photography. (Read: Introduction to Composition)
When you make sure that your photos follow the rules of making a photo perfect, you’re developing your eyes by training them to see the world as a photograph. Take your time in practising the correct habits and you’ll soon find yourself doing street photography as second nature and you’ll be a good photographer in general, as well.
Have Timing In Mind
You can either spend a whole day dedicated to street photography, taking time to walk around a certain area and shoot what you feel would come out best in your camera roll. Or, it can happen to you while you’re on the train on your daily commute.
Whatever it is, you need to be ready and keep your eyes peeled by remembering that timing is everything.
Be aware and ready to shoot as there is no other photographic setting where timing is most important than street photography and professional sports event photography. Both of these photography settings require you to be prepared to capture the moments because you’ll only get one chance at it.
Luckily with the help of your iPhone, you can easily capture moments by pointing and shooting. The act of photography is already simplified and you don’t have to put too much focus on critical focus. If your photos ‘move’, it all adds detail to the photos as there are motion and movement in your photo.
Blend In With The Crowd
Your photographs have to appear as though it is seen through your eyes as opposed to coming off as you’re documenting them. Most of the great street photography photos are of candid photos where the human characteristics are of high value.
When viewed, your photographs must also give off the same feeling to your viewers. They want to see how you saw the situation unfold.
But be discreet when you shoot by having your earphones on. Your volume button acts as a shutter release that doesn’t require you to tap the screen to take a photo. By doing so, you can sit on a bench in the park and photograph things that will look good on your feed.
There Are, Of Course, Restrictions
Although at this point in time, Malaysia can’t really agree whether or not there is a right to privacy on whether you can get sued in taking street photography. It comes down to whether or not your photograph is for personal use, commercial use, or in other cases, the intention of defamation.
So even if it seems that you can take pictures anytime and anywhere you want, bear in mind that you can put yourself in the shoes of your subject. Would you like how it’ll look like for you when you see it?
Certain street photographers ask their subjects first if they can capture their photo but that’ll sort of ‘ruin’ the candid feel of the photo, it’s always best to ask. But if you think the photo gives off more soul when it’s more anonymous, take photos of your subjects as you stand behind them.
This way, you preserve their anonymity and it saves them from embarrassment.
You might have a lot of freedom, as shared with ShakeLaw, you have the lowest level of protection where you’re in public spaces as opposed to being in your house. Therefore, street photography is still okay as long as it is not meant to cause embarrassment, which will get you in trouble. And of course, it’s definitely not a morally right thing to do as a photographer.
Your Work Can Be Edited Afterwards
When you focus on something to photograph, make sure you’re doing so that you have little to nothing to do in editing afterwards. It makes you a better photographer as you go along in the wonderful art of street photography.
Street photography is commonly edited to black and white (read: the beauty of black and white photography). The reason as to this is because it produces more emotion and soul, hence giving it a more raw feel to it.
You can edit your photos to black and white straight from your phone or using the many available photography editing apps on the App Store or Google Play. Our top choices are VSCO, SnapSeed, Enlight, and Lightroom CC.
Experiment with the settings in any app and see which suits you best. You can even edit them according to a theme and have your feed in the same hue for a couple of weeks before changing to a different theme. If your photo deserves the vibrant colours, you can leave them be but enhance the settings to accommodate to it better.
Street photography is now made easy with that iPhone in your hand. There are a thousand stories in the street when you walk through it and all it takes is one photo to tell the whole thing.