Street Photography Tips - Be your own worst critic!

25th October 2017


When you come home from a photo walk, toss your memory card into your computer to review your shots, are you often disappointed with the final results? Maybe your photos are blurry, or maybe you wish you had taking a shot from a different angle because something in it is distracting, or the subjects eyes are closed in the one shot you rushed to take, or a special moment you saw just isn't coming through in your photos?

A big part of my role as street photography tutor is giving the student the confidence to take candid photos of strangers in the first place and not just snap a quick shot in a blind panic and run away! I initially lead by example and to demonstrate my techniques, I go shoot a scene at my preferred focal length (which is usually much closer than the students initially). Occasionally, a student is still on the other side of the road in fear. I give them the creative incentive to come closer and focus on the frame and not worry too much about who's looking at them. This usually encourages them to take their time and not rush the job. We then review the shot(s) as they are taken, and if necessary I suggest tips to make the photo better.

A good exercise for a street photographer is to work a scene with your own eyes or preferably through your camera's viewfinder. What I mean by that is to do a 180-360° on the scene. Two examples: Ask yourself does the shot work better from the left or the right side, from lower angle or from eye level? Is there anything distracting in the frame? Should i bokeh out the background or is the background adding context to my shot, etc.

I teach students not to rush a shot unnecessarily. Of course this is a little easier if; 1. the subject(s) are not on the move 2. The subject(s) are too occupied to notice you 3. The subject(s) are unaffected by you taking photos. In doing so, you are learning to think about your composition (which I explain in more detail in my workshops), but most importantly how and when to capture the most emotionally expressive or visually impactful moment from the subject/scene.

There's nothing wrong with taking a few shots of the same scene, going home and picking the best one to use. Many of the masters of street photography including; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, Martin Parr, etc did/do exactly that with analog cameras. Just google their names plus the words 'contact sheets' for a master class lesson in observation, timing, composition. The next job once you have the shots you want is being meticulous in your final image selection. Most of the iconic shots you see, went through through these processes and have stood the test of time as classic photographs.

In my workshops you will learn to train your eyes to notice more details, moods and emotions, I teach you how to start to see interesting scenes, the confidence to go and take the shot, how to creatively compose your images and when to take your shots to convey the most impact through timing and story telling and critic your work.

If you would like to book one of my workshops, you can either sign up to one of my next Airbnb Experiences or if you prefer a private 1-2-1 please email me for further details.



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