5 Ways Street Photography Can Make You a Better Photographer

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Do you shoot street photography? Many photographers (especially photojournalists) do street photography to keep their minds fresh and sharpen their skills. Additionally, you can teach yourself new things that will make you a better photographer. Here are a couple of ways that street photography can help you to become a better photographer.

Photo by e_romero

All photos in this story were submitted to the B&H Flickr Street Photography Contest sponsored by Leica. Hover over the images to see who they belong to.

You Learn to React Faster

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Mostly everything in street photography happens in a split second. Though you may not get it at first, perseverance, tenacity, and a positive attitude will help you to nail that amazing photo which you can go back to and show to all your friends.

Beyond just reacting, beginners will often need to learn how to rewire their brain not to emotionally react to the moments themselves. Instead, they'll need to learn how to immediately compose their image to document the decisive moment when it happens.

You may want to take a look at my previous posting on capturing better candids. There I discuss factors like choosing a set focusing point before shooting and loads of other helpful details.

It Can Help You Compose Better

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

In addition to reacting faster, you'll also often need to compose your images to have greater effect in the final product. This goes for all types of cameras.

- Your DSLR may have lines in the viewfinder set up to display the rule of thirds.

- A point-and-shoot may help you to pay closer attention to what the final image will look like by using the LCD screen.

- Cameras with a tiltable LCD screen like the Sony NEX series can flip up. With screens like this, you can compose your images while looking down onto the screen with the camera waist-level.

- A rangefinder will force you to focus on your subject and then slow down and rethink your composition. This is because of the way their focusing mechanisms work. Pick up any Leica and you'll often see this.

You Learn to Read Body Language and Predict Moments

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When you shoot photography, you learn to read body cues from people. Some are more obvious than others, like a person's face expressing feelings of pain or excitement. Then there are the other bodily cues that go along with it. Some of that language can be in the legs, posture, hands, arms, etc. Eventually you'll be able to read people well enough to tell what signifies a specific emotion or feeling.

This goes hand in hand (no pun intended) with portraiture.

You'll Learn To Accept That You Won't Always Nail the Shot

Solipsist

With shooting street photography comes accepting the fact that you won't always nail the perfect photo. The key is not to look at this as a failure. Instead, you should go home and try to assess the situation to figure out what went wrong. When you figure this out, you can use the knowledge gained from making the mistake to become a better photographer.

It Helps You To Get Over Fears

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Something I often hear from new photographers is that they feel weird taking photos of people. If they don't feel weird, they feel scared to ask people for their photo. The reality is that the worst that can happen is the person can say no. In that case, you say thank you anyway and move onto the next subject.

Because of this, many photographers will often use long lenses to photograph their subjects and then eventually start to use normal perspective and wider lenses. It is often said that shooting wide and normal makes viewers feel like they are there in your images.

Of course, some photographers may just prefer using longer focal lengths.

How has Street Photography made you a better photographer? Let us know in the comments below.

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Terrific info and pictures on street photography, thanks for sharing.

To me shooting on the streets is fundamental to my work. The pursuit of that 'decisive moment' to me is everything in photography!

This is a great piece, especially the last point about it helping you get over your fears. I did a post recently that was all about this subject, called 'Street Photography: Are You Tempted?', and got a few people's opinions on it - would love to hear more about what people think.

Thanks a lot for the tips, I think I'm going to go out and try it soon!

Great Information.. as a beginner in street photography, this is encouraging.. thank you!