Photography News | Issue 59 | photographynews.co.uk
Candidmoments Shoot the streets The huge interest in street photography has been fuelled by any number of reasons and smaller, silent cameras is certainly one of them. As most of us live in towns and cities, accessibility is another. The main reason, though, is the challenge of taking great pictures of unrepeatable moments without the need for loads of kit. All you need to do is acquire some simple skills and that is what Brian Lloyd Duckett, a master of the genre, is offering over the next four pages
Word & pictures by Brian Lloyd Duckett
Overcome your fears of street photography
1 Most of us have some level of discomfort with photographing people in the street and we all deal with it in different ways. Some people fight the feeling and shoot away regardless; some will just give up and shoot something different; others will learn a new set of skills to help them deal with such difficulties. Make street photography a habit. The more you’re out there doing it, the more comfortable you will feel. Here are some ways in which you can minimise your fears. Spend a whole weekend working on this – remember, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Be quiet. If your camera’s beeps, clicks and blinking lights can be turned off, turn them off. Shoot people absorbed in what they’re doing – they won’t notice you. • •
Work quickly – take your shot and move on. Avoid eye contact. You’ll find this much easier if you don’t make eye contact with people on the streets – before, during and after your shot. If necessary, shoot from the hip to disguise what you’re doing – but don’t rely on it. Getting in close is often a good principle in street photography but not an absolute rule. Get as close as you’re comfortable with but keep pushing yourself to get a little closer every time. Always have confidence in the belief that you are not doing anything wrong – and keep telling yourself this. You’ll be more confident if you know the law: street photography in a public place is perfectly legal in the UK and you don’t need anyone’s permission to take their picture.
Right Taken in London with a fast shutter speed of 1/1600sec.
Become a great observer
2 The best street photographers are good observers of life; they soak up all the detail, watching body language and anticipating what might happen next. We need to be super-aware of what’s going on around us and be able to predict the actions of others so that we are in a state of readiness to capture a moment. Think of it as being able to ‘read’ the streets. You need to be curious, always thinking about what’s round that corner, who’s inside that shop or what is behind that door. Be nosey and it will pay dividends. You should also pay more attention to others than to yourself; many street photographers are not sufficiently observant because they’re so self-conscious about
Right Harsh light gives contrast and strong shadows, playing on the bright green wall and setting the scene for the furtive looking figure peering out from behind it.
how they look or behave. Nobody is interested in you – focus your attention on others. If you’re serious about street photography, you need to chase good light. Find subjects and backgrounds which are bathed in it. Don’t be afraid of contrast – your job is to record, not to flatter – and rejoice in strong directional light. Look at the light, in terms of its quality and direction, and use it to your advantage. Also, look at detail on the streets; the ability to recognise important detail and make connections will help set you apart as a street photographer. So, walk slowly and get into the zone. Pay attention to your senses – the sights, sounds and smells of the streets will give you constant feedback as to what’s going on around you.
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