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© Beren Patterson. All Rights Reserved. Street photography is the art of photographing everyday things in villages to metropolosis. Taking your camera is a great excuse to explore a city. Often linked to Cartier Bresson and Magnum, street photography is a wonderful excuse to explore places and meet people.

Street Photography

Exploring a new place is one of the great things about travelling. By taking a camera you may become an even keener observer, and hopefully will keep you exploring for longer.

Often there will be people in your street scenes, so please be courteous and considerate at all times. See the People Section for more tips.


Photograph What You See

Street photography is exciting. You will rarely know what you are going to photograph and how you are going to shoot it. Usually you will find things by accident, scenes that suddenly grab you, scenarios that make you think.

By having your camera ready you will be able to photograph what you see. I like to keep my camera in my hand with the strap wrapped securely several times around my wrist and avoid the 'camera around neck' look.

Choose a good general purpose lens with a short focal-length, like a 28-70mm zoom lens. This gives you some flexibility and will let you quickly adapt your shot to the scene. You will probably discover a lens that you like. Stick with it. My personal favourite is a 24mm as it allows my to get it close but capture a whole scene.


Everyday Things

It is easy to miss the things that make a place uniquely different and interesting by just photographing the 'attractions'. As an example, if you went to India and just took pictures of the Taj Mahal, Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds, you would hardly have photographs that represented the country or your experiences there. Markets, transport, food, people, fields, and so on are far more representative of a place.


An Exercise

For a good exercise to learn more about perspective, lens usage and composition use a fixed lens preferably something like a 50mm, 35mm or 28mm. One of the dangers of using a zoom is that you become lazy, and instead of thinking through all the other changes that the zoom is making - like the change of perspective, change of available ƒ-stops and the change in depth of field. By using just one focal length you will find yourself moving a lot more, exploring the differences of distance and angle. Go and explore the local market or bus station. If you find a scene that makes a good background wait until you get a good subject. Many famous older photojournalists will mainly use one fixed focal length lens - being there, at the right time and place is what’s important to get the shot.

Common photographic terms explainedLinks to useful and interesting websites, books and DVDs
Dentist’s sign in Panajachel, Guatemala. © Beren Patterson. All Rights Reserved.