Today I want to talk about street photography and in particular the hardest of all street photography the street portrait.
Street is a fascinating area of photography however there are a few rules that you must follow.
1) Always treat your subject with respect and dignity, i.e. do not take photos that demean or ridicule the subject.
2) If someone protests then don’t argue with them just delete the photo and show them that it is deleted. Here in Australia if you are on the street then you have no privacy, so in effect anyone can take your picture. The only caveat is if nudity is involved, for your protection do not take photos of nude people and never revealing photos without written permission.
3) If taking photos of children be very aware of the sensitive nature that now surrounds children, you are better of asking the parent/s if it is ok.
4) Familiarise yourself with any areas that do not permit photography, especially if overseas. No point in spending time in gaol just because you didn’t want to look up photo restrictions in the country you are visiting. In addition always obey the instructions of the property owner or their agent
5) Take your time with street, look around, immerse yourself in the locality and after a while potential captures will reveal themselves.
Generally to do street deliberately takes some courage, because you are going to be standing with your camera pointed at the subject, any reaction is possible. So it is confrontational for the photographer and the subjects. Some people like to get a big lens a get away from their subjects, personally I like the close method and sometimes one can end up in a nice conversation.
Now to street portrait, this is where one must summon the courage to approach a total stranger and ask if one can take their photo. Some caution must be involved with this, survey your subject and try to understand if they are unlikely to provide an angry reaction. Most people I have asked say yes and the few that decline will say no politely. Of course if they have said no then don’t sneak a shot of them. A word of caution if you are going to photograph street people, i.e. the homeless be very careful, sometimes one may get a reaction that is unpleasant.
If it is something you want to try then I say go for it and if it helps go with a friend.
A sample or two of street work that I have done.
First a street portrait, note the ghostly face in the background, a famous street photographer who’s name I can’t recall said she liked ghosts in her images and I think it adds balance to the work.
Lastly a general scene where a dichotomy exists if that is the right word, two people sitting when there is room for three and downstairs three people walking. For this shot I waited until the there were people walking and deliberately chose the moment when they were aligned with the counter/bar. As I said above when one spend time in an area then potential shots do present themselves.