5 Tips for better Street Photography

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” 

-Henri Cartier-Bresson

Focused Practice

Bresson stated the above in the days of 35mm film. With digital media, 10,000 photos are nothing. Malcolm Gladwell wrote that 10,000 hours is the time needed to succeed. A recent article in Peta Pixel took this idea further, making the point that repeating what we do does not necessarily lead to better photography. Practice needs to be skills based. Here I will tell you five skills to work on that will make your Street Photography better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ladies selling pottery in front of a temple. Auroville/ India.

Using Lightroom and Photoshop

To some people, these are dirty words. However, for me, I have a vision and these tools allow me to achieve what I see in my mind’s eye. I am not talking about extreme stuff, like moving a lamppost and changing the sky. One area I am focusing on is the dodge and burn tool, or selective exposure in Lightroom. These tools can help draw the viewer to the subject of a photo. Getting to know your post-production software can lead to better pictures. The skills you are learning are digital applications of tools and tricks that photographers used in the days of processing film in the darkroom. Practice them.

My favourite Lightroom alternative – On1

Fill Flash for Street Photography

Fill flash is my next area of focus. Living in India, I am often faced with dark faces framed within bright backgrounds. Fill flash will help my subjects ‘pop’. As well as the technical aspects, there needs to be some thought and consideration into how I use the flash. Setting off a flash in someone’s face without permission is difficult to justify, yet I strive for a candid look. This is something you will see me explore in future photos.

Learn your camera’s settings

I know my Nikon like the back of my hand. However, I now favour the Olympus Em5ii, a great little camera that is much lighter and less obtrusive. The Olympus can be complicated to set it up and there are aspects I still have not yet mastered, such as back button focusing. Whatever your camera, there will be some settings you have still to learn. You can read about my experiences with the Em5ii here.

Head in the Clouds

Head in the Clouds.

Simplify (Minimalism)

Minimalism is something I now do well and it took a LOT of work. Spend a day taking photos of nothing but minimal backgrounds. Look for rough textured walls and fences, or pavements with interesting patterns. The next day do the same, this time adding a subject. Learning to be minimalist has been one of the greatest learning experiences I have undertaken. Being minimal strips the clutter and distraction from a photo and lets the subject shine. You can read more about my journey with minimalism here.

boy on chair shanghai (1 of 1)-5

Boy on Chair, Shanghai

Alternative Street Photography Skills

There are lots of other areas that can be a focus for practice.

– Using a ‘rule’ such as leading lines or rule of thirds
– Using complementary colours in the frame
– Learning the different focus and exposure modes of your camera
– Taking street portraits
– Layering your pictures

Your Ideas

We are all on different stages of a learning continuum, yet nobody can claim they know it all. Picking one of the above areas will improve the quality of your work, I promise. Keep an eye on this site and see how I get along with using my fill flash, definitely something I need to practice. As always, let me know how you get on.

Take care and keep clicking,

Chris

You may have noticed, I have been working on this site and I am rather proud of how it’s starting to look. You can now follow me by email, and I will be posting at least once a week. Re-sharing my posts on Facebook or Google+ will help to get this site off the ground. Many thanks to my regular followers, I love you all!

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