Street photography is one of the oldest genres of photography that captures random incidents and the daily life of people. Street photography is taken on city streets, parks, beaches and public transport. Instead of the people themselves, the images may display traces of their presence. This genre is close to reportage shooting, but is not limited to important events and socially significant topics. At the forefront is the desire to capture the surrounding reality as it is.
The History of Street Photography
Street photography was born at the same time as a technique capable of capturing people on the streets. The first cameras required too long exposure times to reveal bystanders. In addition, the cameras were bulky and attracted attention, and street photography in the modern sense tends to be inconspicuous. The earliest images of the city can be seen in the photographs of Louis Daguerre, who photographed the streets of Paris from the window of a photo studio. Such photographs became more common by the end of the 19th century, along with the advent and improvement of portable cameras.
Street photography, like its related genres, owes much to the compact 35mm cameras that hit the market in the 1920s. They made it possible to take subtle shots that looked more vivid than staged ones. One of the most significant photographers of the period was Eugène Atget. He is considered the progenitor of street photography.
Street photography emerged as an independent genre with well-developed theoretical foundations in the 1950s. An important role in this was played by the photos and publications of Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the founders of the famous Magnum photo agency. His book, The Decisive Moment, has been a source of inspiration for generations of photographers. Also, the growing popularity of street photography was facilitated by large-scale international exhibitions, including those held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Nowadays, the genre has found a new breath thanks to the advent of first digital cameras, and then smartphones, which allow you to get discreetly captured images of good quality. With their help, everyone can try themselves as a street photographer.
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The Main Principles of Street Photography
The philosophy of this genre is close to reportage and documentary photography: reality should be displayed as it is, without staging or editing. At the same time, the author does not plan to record a specific event: he is interested in random interesting shots. Photographer Robert Doisneau wrote that no filmmaker will arrange such scenes as they regularly happen on the street by themselves. In order not to interfere with these scenes, the shooting is often carried out unnoticed. In this genre, the author does not occupy a pronounced social position. He treats what is happening neutrally, driven by curiosity and creative searches.
Many photographers strive to capture a moment that will never happen again. But covert filming may conflict with the law. Many countries have regulations that prohibit taking pictures of people without their consent or displaying such images for everyone to see. For example, in USA, you cannot publish photos in which the main subject is a person who has not given his consent, unless the publication provides for public or state interests. At the same time, the photography itself does not require permission if it is carried out in a public place.
Required Cameras and Photo Equipment for Street Photography
In the 21st century, digital photography has almost completely replaced analog – there are only a few adherents of film who appreciate the special magic and atmosphere of grainy pictures. There have appeared not only compact cameras like DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras, but also mobile phones – devices that have recently not been inferior in image quality to their older brothers. In addition, using a smartphone to quietly take a good shot becomes even easier – you no longer need to puzzle over how to remain unnoticed and not frighten off the subject. For street photography, this moment is undoubtedly important, because this is the easiest way to achieve the effect of spontaneity.
Before moving on to shooting with a film camera, practice with digital and SLR options, which will have a compact size.
DSLRs will do the best for the effect you want: they have a fast shutter release so you don’t miss the moment, and autofocus so you can focus on the essentials. For such cameras, you can choose a variety of lenses: telephoto lenses for long-range shooting or portrait lenses for capturing faces in close-up. The only thing that can bring inconvenience is rather large dimensions and weight. Taking a photo invisibly will be a little more difficult.
They are good because they have ample shooting capabilities and at the same time are small, like soap dishes. Special “invisible” lenses can be purchased for them, which look like a camera cover. And other optics for such cameras are small in size – just what we need! In particular, old-school lenses from film cameras are suitable for them – they will give an interesting effect and serve as the beginning of your experiments with street photography.
The only drawback is the price of such equipment and optics for it, as well as a weak (compared to mirror technology) battery. Perhaps people with large palms will find such a camera uncomfortable – but you can always get used to the size.
A good option for those new to street photography. These cameras have a small size, with which it will be easier to shoot unnoticed, as well as a nice price. Among the minuses, we would like to highlight the lack of interchangeable lenses, simplified control (often without manual focus), slow operation of the shutter button, and leisurely autofocus. In the case of such cameras, try to opt for models with good aperture and fast shooting.
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Preparing for Street Photography Session
A professional photoset is always a flurry of new emotions. After all, the studio’s scenery is ordinary and exclusive photographs in such a place will definitely not work. Each new person will take the usual positions for the photographer, make his work boring and monotonous.
The task of a photo artist is to create, create masterpieces, implement creative ideas, reveal the character of the model in the photographs. All this can be done on the street without much difficulty. Urban style, city at night, casual, country landscapes – the scope for the imagination of the photographer.
Outdoor work is spontaneous. The light changes every few minutes, the movement of the wind changes the natural pattern, helping to create spectacular photographs. It is much more difficult to get high-quality photos in such conditions than with staged light, but they become emotionally filled, bright, interesting and lively.
Thinking Over the Concept
Before you start, you need to discuss the plot and choose a style for your outdoor photoshoot. You won’t be able to just walk around the city with a person, trying to catch the right shots. Prepare the place in advance, choose the appropriate clothes, shoes, accessories and makeup. In each photoset, a plot must be realized, which will be revealed in the pictures. It is important to pay special attention to the little things, if you are going to shoot where the tenderness of the first spring bouquets will be illuminated, then a model in a leather jacket with bright makeup will look disharmonious.
Small plot bloopers are very clearly visible in the frame, so before holding the event, write a short plan:
- The concept will be realized: mystical and gothic characters, the beauty of nature, night landscapes, “carousel”, etc.
- Think about what clothes and shoes will suit a particular type of photo shoot.
- What small accessories can complement the picture, add interesting details to it, you can use several attributes for a change: wreaths of wildflowers, animals, a motorcycle helmet, cotton candy, etc.
- What makeup is better to come with (whether it be a reflection of natural beauty, smoky ice, 70s or vamp).
- Emotions. It is necessary to tell the posing about what kind of emotional background these photos will share, they will become daring, tender or erotic.
All these steps will help to create a holistic picture that will make the pictures interesting and elevate them to the level of photography.
Clothes and Footwear for Street Photography Session
In beautiful photographs, everything must match, so before planning a set, you should thoroughly study it. If you are thinking about a reference to a dandy in an urban landscape, then bright multi-colored jackets, maximum sequins and shades are suitable.
Classic nature shots in a park or forest area suggest choosing a casual style as clothing, complemented by a long coat, gloves, and a hat. If this is a variation of “the princess got lost in the forest in the afternoon at two o’clock,” you can use a light dress to the floor, but without shoes, which should be especially emphasized. This will put a great emphasis on merging with nature. Everything will depend on what kind of image the artist wants to realize.
The main thing is to keep things in good condition before the start of photographic work. Therefore, you do not need to go across the city in a suit. It is better if the model arrives in casual clothes and changes clothes on the set. If work is planned in the winter, then you must not forget the blanket, so as not to dress between several shots, but to be able to warm up.
Accessories for Street Photography Session
It is also better to bring them separately. Many photographers believe that even without them, it will be possible to create a bright image that attracts attention. However, perfection lies precisely in the little things. A photograph taken in an urban landscape with glasses, a hat, a scarf, a motorcycle helmet or other attributes of everyday and casual style (depending on the implementation of the main idea) will look much more interesting. Pictures with wreaths of flowers against the background of nature also look creative.
Therefore, you should not neglect small accents, they will help to revive the photo, emphasize the plot and add harmony in general. Before you start, make a list of the trinkets that will work for your particular photo shoot.
Hair and Makeup for Street Photography Session
You do not need to do them in the morning in hot weather or in winter, when you have to go out into the cold. It is better to order the services of a hairdresser-stylist just before the shooting time or prepare on the spot. Moreover, during the process, the makeup will have to be corrected so that it looks perfect in all pictures.
As for the brightness, then everything will depend on the overall picture. If this is a vamp in the Gothic style in the forest, then you cannot do without saturated shades. For urban images and “merging with nature” – a light everyday make-up or an emphasis on one area of the face.
Separately, there will be fabulous stories, where mermaids, forest fairies, elves and other incarnations will have to create a spectacular face painting that will help to embody the original idea.
In any of these cases, it is better to pay extra to a stylist who will take care of the appearance, keep it perfect throughout the day allotted for the photoshoot.
How Models Tune in to A Working Mood for Street Photography?
Mood is a very important component; it will appear in decent pictures. Therefore, it is necessary to enter the role that is thought to be embodied. This will help:
- thematic music;
- photographs from the Internet in a similar style;
- posing in front of a mirror;
- getting to know the artist before the start of the photo session, so that there is no strong nervousness;
- watching good movies, relaxing walk.
All this will allow you to be inspired, to show the maximum of positive emotions and character in the photographs.
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Choosing A Location for Shooting
There are a lot of variations of street photosets. It is only limited by the photographer’s imagination, there are no more obstacles. Before choosing, one must rely on the wishes of the person, if it is a custom photo session, or on personal preferences, if it is photography. Among the most famous are:
- Anna Karenina. This theme gained popularity after the release of the film starring Keira Knightley. An abandoned or operating depot, a lonely waiting for a train, a train in the frame, rails and the romance of a desert environment.
- Abandoned Construction Site. It will be relevant for adolescents and young people. An original photo session on the street in such a mysterious place is guaranteed.
- Park Area. Suitable for the implementation of ideas in a fantastic style and “merging with nature.”
- Night City. The image here can be anything from every day to tragic vamp loneliness.
- Under Rain. Unique shots that allow you to fully reveal the emotional component. Whether it’s sadness or unbridled fun. Try not to forget warm clothes and hot tea.
- With Animals. You can choose cats, dogs, horses and other pets with whom you want to take a picture.
The airport, the illumination of administrative buildings, a library, a roof, a city garden, a poppy or lavender field, a rural landscape – all these are variants of compositions for filming. In each of them, you can reveal a huge number of images and plots, you just need to constantly experiment.
Posing: How do Street Photographers Pose?
There are several basic rules that will help you to favorably highlight the forms and emphasize their grace:
- Neck. The secret to graceful shots is to pull it up a little to make it appear longer and more expressive.
- Shoulders. They go down so that the pose is relaxed and open. No stoop, they should be straightened. This will allow you to advantageously emphasize the neckline. For dynamics, you can only raise one shoulder so that the model does not seem like a soldier. Do not keep straight, turn the body slightly forward, so the figure will acquire pleasant curves.
- Lumbar Region. Curl at the lower back for a more feminine look and a flowing S-shaped silhouette.
- Legs. They must always be in dynamics: one is pushed forward, bent at the knee or ankle, extended like a ballerina’s, both are crossed, etc. Direct staging will make the figure square and like a sculpture.
If you follow these rules, any position of the body will acquire mystery and will look great in the photo.
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Beautiful Poses for Street Photography
The main thing in a street photoshoot is naturalness. It is better to leave too pretentious and complex positions for narrow thematic areas. It is worth choosing variations in which the girl will be as relaxed and light as possible. Do not make a model with a heavy character look cute, and vice versa – pretense will be much more noticeable than it seems at first glance.
The first work in a pair is always difficult for both the photographer and his assistant. Consider original, interesting poses and images to create spectacular and vivid photos. We offer several basic options that can facilitate interaction in photography, they can and should be used, experimented and supplemented.
Posing While Standing
If you are planning a photoshoot with a full body capture, remember that there is a universal example that can make a silhouette graceful in any photo.
The brightest is the Hollywood stars on the red carpet. Each of them becomes straight, putting one hand on the waist to get a smooth curve of the silhouette, the other is relaxed, or she straightens her hair, the weight is transferred to one leg. Sometimes it is bent at the knee, inserting it forward, which allows you to hide even more imperfections.
- an even position will make even the most beautiful figure square;
- limbs are not static, they are constantly in dynamics: they lie on the waist, in the pockets of trousers, on the hips, straighten curls, slightly bent at the elbows and knees, etc.
- the torso should be slightly or strongly deflected, half-sided and 1/4 to the camera.
These little tips will help you create any full-length photo composition.
Playing with Hair
If they are long and beautiful, it is a sin not to use it. Curls look very bright in photographs. Try to take them off in motion with sharp turns of the head, lifting, simply throwing them to the side with your hands. On gentle and romantic photos, touch the curls more, focusing on windiness and lightness.
If the photo shoot is carried out in the rain or near a pond, then you can add spray. And in the autumn forest of flying leaves. In dynamics, you can easily highlight the moment the hair moves in focus, leaving the background blurred, which will give a special charm to the photo.
A new trend is “random” photography, when a person appears in the frame unexpectedly and in general is completely in his thoughts.
To implement the trendy style, have the girl take a free pose in which she will feel as comfortable as possible. The charm of this option is distraction. The body can be either straight or half-turned from the photographer. You can hug your shoulders, straighten your hair, and your gaze is directed to the side, trying to see something in the distance. Maximum thoughtful and purposeful.
Use Your Hands
This is very important as most people don’t know where to put them during a photo shoot. As a result, they simply hang in lifeless lashes, making it difficult to recreate smooth and harmonious forms.
A few ideas:
- lift them up, with the back side into the camera, bend them a little, change the inclinations (it also works in a sitting and lying position);
- use accessories and natural elements: sand on the beach, tree branches, flowers;
- touch the neck, which will also allow us to visually hide the imperfections of the face oval;
- put on the waist or hips.
The hands will engage and create dynamism. To obtain original photographs, they must constantly move, change position.
Sit Beautifully in The Frame
There are really a lot of variations here. You can sit on bare grass, autumn foliage, asphalt. Use improvised items: benches, old barrels, cut trees and much more.
Bend your legs under you or bend them at the knees, hug or stretch, bend only one in turn. For people with good stretching, this can be all kinds of splits.
There are also pictures taken on the stairs. Favorite position of photographers and models:
- sit half sideways;
- put your feet on a step lower;
- push the back slightly forward;
- put your hands on your knees, bend at the elbow, supporting your head or touching your hair;
- a distracted and pensive look to the side.
In this position, the imperfections of the figure are perfectly hidden, the legs turn out to be long and slender, and the photograph itself is filled with meaning and aesthetics.
Use A Support
The positive side of this method is that it allows the person to relax. He immediately finds a comfortable position for himself, puts his arms and looks natural.
It is convenient to use trees or walls of buildings, columns, cars, railings as a support. You can lean on them with your back, hug or lean your face. In any case, such photos will convey a slight flirtation and playfulness.
Posing Lying Down
One of the most successful options in which the model can easily relax. But the photographer will have to experiment with distance and angles. There is no axiom that allows you to decide from which angle a girl will look more impressive. This is learned in practice.
A big plus is variability, because you can lie on your back or stomach, lie straight or bend your knees, raise one hand or two, bend or stay with a straight torso. It is very important on the beaches, in the grass, in the hay, on the banks of water bodies and in other places.
Taking these photography ideas makes outdoor portrait photography easy. The main thing for this is to choose a sunny day, start a photoshoot at sunset or dawn, which will allow you to get the most light and smooth glow, and the photos themselves – spectacular and emotional.
Best wishes and great photos to you. I will come up with new interesting topic next week. Please like and share this article on your social networks, it will encourage my blogging efforts.
Q1: Is Street Photography Legal?
Answer: One of the difficulties in street photography is that not everything can be filmed, especially if you do it in disguise. In USA and almost every country, there are a number of laws prohibiting the filming of certain buildings and people, covert filming, and the publication of such images without proper permission.
In the best case, you will simply be asked to delete the photographs, and in the worst case, they will apply physical pressure to you or your equipment, collect a fine, or even give a real time limit. The exceptions are photographs taken at public events, when a person accidentally got into the frame, as well as photographs taken for state and political purposes.
It is worth noting that you have the right to delete a picture only by a court decision, and not at someone’s request. After all, each of your photographs is an intellectual property.
Q2: Who is the Best Street Photographer?
Many famous photographers worked in this genre, whose works are now kept in many museums around the world. Here are some of the photographers who are considered street classics:
Henri Cartier-Bresson. This man is called the father and main ideologue of black and white street photography. His famous work demonstrating the principle of “decisive moment” is “Rue Mouffetard in Paris“.
Alfred Eisenstaedt. This author owns one of the most famous street photographs – “A Kiss in Times Square“. It was filmed on the day of the victory over Japan and published in Life magazine.
Joel Meyerowitz. One of the most respected masters of the second half of the 20th century, who did a lot for the recognition of color film in the field of high photography.
William Eggleston. This photographer saw complexity and beauty in the most mundane things. He photographed old houses and ordinary streets, which in the photo look extraordinary and significant.