Street photography is one of most interesting and fun-filled genres of photography. For me it reflects freedom and flexibility with no rules or restrictions. Although street photography breaks the rules here are some guidelines to help you take better street shots.
So what is "street photography"? Some people have said that by defining it you place a boundary or limitation on the freedom of street photography. In its broadest possible definition, it can be described as photographing anything that happens within the streets of a city. The website, nonphotography.com describes it as, "Simply put street photography includes any photograph made anywhere in public places." Some people narrow it down to urban settings and some people think there must be people present in these kinds of photos. But the bottom line is that each street photographer will find their own meaning and approach therefore whatever definition they might arrive at will work just as well."
1. Capture life, activity and vibrancy
Whenever you have people going about their business it reflects action and movement. Street photography is dynamic and full of activity. If you like activity, then it's for you, but if you like peace and tranquility, head for the hills.
2. Shoot with your widest possible lens
You need to include as much of the scene as possible. The interesting part about this is serendipity, or making discoveries by accident. When you view your image later, you discover things and activities that you didn't see happening when shooting. This makes it exciting. It's not like literature where you speculate what the author meant. You physically discover things that you didn't see at the time of the actual photo shoot.
3. Shoot telephoto as well
This helps with isolating parts of the scene. Looking for subjects within scenes. Discovering the small pictures within the bigger picture. Zooming in and shooting the detail. Getting in closer from a distance when photographing people makes it less intrusive and you are more likely to get the shot.
4. Shoot volume
Just keep shooting and shooting. Looking for subjects all the time. It's like the machine gunner rather than the selective sniper. The more you shoot the more the possibility of getting a really interesting shot.
5. Shoot blind
With great autofocus systems on both compacts and DSLRs, you can shoot without looking. Hold the camera above your head or shoot from the hip. Make sure that you're using a small aperture for maximum depth of field and sharpness in the image. The discovery is in the viewing of the image and not just the shooting.
6. Tell a story
Street photography can also be used to document the life of, or tell a story about people in the streets. A photo journal where one subject is followed and their life documented. It involves getting close to people and may even be invasive. Photograph a building over time as it is demolished then document the new one rising from the earth.
7. Don't cross boundaries that shouldn't be crossed
Be careful and know your boundaries, or rather set your boundaries beforehand. With the world in the state it's in, many legal systems are prejudiced towards photographers. There is too much terror taking place. So know where your boundaries are and remember that people have legal rights and you can get sued when crossing them.
8. Shoot in black and white for maximum impact
There is just something about black and white street photography. Maybe it's the cult following, or maybe it's the tradition of street photography. Try it and see if it works for you.
So, street photography is seen from two different viewpoints, as you will find in many aspects of photography's extremes. I personally hold to a viewpoint somewhere in the middle between the abstract and traditional. But what it does do, is give you the freedom to choose how you will capture the streets of your world.
You may want to develop street photography or just have a dabble. The choice is yours. Whatever you do, make sure that you enjoy it.