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Street Photography is Hard, but totally worth it


Street photography has always been a genre I've been interested in as I am a sucker for the candid flow & feel of it. There is something about the unplanned and serendipitous nature of street photography that makes it feel so genuine.

Inspired by my previous blog post on John Free and his passion for street photography, I hit the streets myself! The front of this building has always been on my shot list ever since I saw it on @koentadyy's Instagram a while back. It has that classic big city feel; which is slightly uncharacteristic in Sydney's CBD.

I feel I nailed the shot above. The symmetry is perfect and my subject hit his stride right in the centre of the frame.

There’s a saying in street photography: If you see it through your viewfinder, it’s already too late.
— - someone wise
Thanks Bus & Bike guy.

Thanks Bus & Bike guy.

I knew I wanted a suit strideby, so I positioned myself across the street and waited. It was a difficult shot to get because there were so many factors that were working against me:

Follow me on Snapchat (itchban)

Follow me on Snapchat (itchban)

The hard part

Pedestrian & Road traffic. Since I was across the street, I had to deal with pedestrians walking through the frame on both sides of the street. Every few seconds I'd also have cars, bicycles & buses pass through my frame. When the buses zoomed pass, they would completely engulf the shot (see above).

Fading light. I got there quite late and the sun was already starting to dip behind the high rise buildings. Either way, shooting in the city is always difficult because all the tall buildings cast such strong shadows. Familiarity with how and where light falls in your city is always handy.

Waiting for the right subject. On top of all the issues above, in street photography you rely most heavily on the human element which is mostly random and out of your control. 

The solution

Positioning. If you already have an idea of the shot you want to get, get into position. Try to find a spot that gives you enough room to get the shot you want, and try to stay out of the city's way.You can always switch lenses to a more appropriate focal length once you're positioned. I was on the opposite side of the street right up against the wall so that I wasn't in peoples way. 

Scan your environment. Periodically scan your environment. After I got into position, I was constantly looking left and right to see if there was an incoming subject (guy in a suit) as well as incoming foot/road traffic. Although not completely predictable, it can give you some idea of what will happen. 

Let your subject walk into your frame. After positioning & and scanning your environment, if you see your subject coming your way, get ready for the shot. There's a saying in street photography: If you see it through your viewfinder, it's already too late. Have the camera to your eye, frame the shot and let your subject do the rest. Don't be afraid to use the burst mode on your camera in these situations.

Be patient. Remember that most of it is out of your control and you are simply an observer of the city. I must have stood there for at least 25 minutes - long enough that the guy leaning on the left of the door frame forgot that I was even there.

It is also entirely possible that you won't get the shot you're after. Don't fret, you can always try again another day - the city isn't going anywhere.

The Takeaway

Street photography is so satisfying in this regard. Despite working with so many unpredictable obstacles, it is still possible to navigate your way through them and nail the shot.

Of course, Street Photography isn't typically so contemplated and planned out like this. I often run around and just go with the flow. These tips are pretty general and should help you improve your street game.

I post very regularly on Instagram and try to Snapchat behind the scenes moments of my photos so be sure to find me if that is something you're interested in.

Instagram @itchban and Snapchat (itchban)