Practicing street photography made me more conscious about many things… content, light, composition and editing – composition comes natural to me when I’m able to ignore the rangefinder patch in my Leica, or the autofocus point in an SLR – focus, recompose is my mantra. Ultimately, storytelling is my goal with (street) photography – recently, I read a story about a someone (sorry, I don’t recall… I’m really bad with remembering names) who started out studying journalism to be a writer, but he figured out that he was a visual storyteller and turned to photography. Thinking about it, I’m sure I found it on f-stop mag, which is inspiring on so many levels.
I considered many times to try to go out and sell myself as an advertising photographer, I have the skills and experience in the industry to begin with, but I’m hesitant to turn something I do for the love of it into a bill paying endeavor, even though I was able to support myself with photography for the past couple of years without going all out.
Back to what I learned by shooting street… Light is a very important factor, I’m always trying to shoot when the sun is low and I always carry a flash, which I trigger with a small radio. Essentially when I need to squint, shooting at f11 or f16, I would not shoot at all, or use a flash for fill. Natural light is great when you can take advantage of it, but many times it is less than ideal and a fill flash is your best friend to improve the quality of light.
content… no way is it interesting to photograph a random stranger passing by – find something else interesting in the frame that supports your story and use everything available to you. Find a thread, create a story – even a one-liner that some people are opposed to… create a juxtaposition, find humor, exploit oddities, detect patterns and look out for repetition – many of these tricks turn out to work well for street photography. If you’re working in color, try to integrate the colors into your composition and learn about color theory.
Now you have composition, a good subject, a great story and only one thing is missing… LIGHT. Watch out for good light, and if it’s not there – keep on observing, or dish out the fill flash.
Leica M9 / Leica ME colors are unsurpassed by anything else at the moment