How to Take Street Photography

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Street photography is the art of taking pictures in public places. Taking street photographs is a great way to catch people in their natural element. Even if you're not shooting images of people or streets per se, "street photography" is a great way to capture public places as they really are. There are some important things to consider when practicing street photography.

  • Get a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens for your camera, if it will take them. Generally, you must have a manual camera to use additional lenses. Manual digital cameras are available that will save you a fortune on film and produce pictures that are every bit as beautiful as a film camera's. A telephoto lens is very useful for taking pictures from your car, a long way away from your subject.

  • Focus your camera before taking pictures. Don't look through the viewfinder or into the LCD screen. Just start shooting. This is best done with the wide-angle lens, which has excellent depth of field. Some people like to sequester the camera or disguise it as something else. Others like to be very open and honest about the fact that they're doing street photography. This is really a matter of personal preference.

  • Use a digital camera. Street photography can produce a lot of failures, so if you're shooting digital, you won't feel so bad that only a few shots came out well.

  • Walk around with your camera. Look at public spaces with a critical eye. There are photographic opportunities happening all around you. All you have to do is see them. You don't have to plan street photography, but you should be very aware at all times of what is going on around you. As you take pictures in the street, learn to see in terms of composition. Compose your photographs according to the rule of thirds (envision imaginary lines segregating your image into both horizontal and vertical thirds, with essential objects placed where the lines intersect). Introduce diagonal lines into your compositions. And make sure your subject is the center of interest.

  • Be conscious of people's reactions. If you sense that your potential subjects are uncomfortable with being photographed, leave them alone. Don't attempt to take pictures in situations where it's clearly inappropriate. Places that are very public, and where there is a lot of activity going on, are your best choices. Don't intrude on people's private, personal space.

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