Guest Post – Javier
I usually like to keep to just photo posts, but I thought that today there could be an exception. followers know that the past few days I have been posting some candid shots of people in NYC, and I’ve been posting them in the Capture a Stranger Street Style board. There was another user, Javier, who posted frequently as well and had some fantastic street candids (and poses). Without further ado:
(Note, images are at a reduced size. Click images to go to their main site)
I know there are many folks who have never done any street shooting and in particular capturing a stranger or strangers…
For those of you that have, you know the challenge, rush and excitement in doing so…In capturing that very cool moment.. For those of you that have not, you don’t know what you’re missing…
These are my opinions regarding technique around the web and hence I can only share what works for “me”. These tips should not be considered Gospel… The biggest problem I see with street photography is that there does not seem to be a solid definition of what it is. ”My definition’ of Street photography changes all the time…What it is today, may be different tomorrow. The important thing is that it shows something about what is going on. Street portraits are another style I enjoy. I love capturing emotion. Good and bad and sometimes mean. A street photo does not have to contain a stranger or a candid image of a person…Blank streets and many buildings can tell amazing stories all on their own. Composition is important but there are plenty of acceptation as sometimes there is no time to compose and frame. Most of the time a grab shot is all there is…I have these as well and I am glad I have them……Is there a wrong way to do street shooting? Personally, I don’t think so…; Though I have seen some really bad ones…Many of those bad ones I have taken myself.. The important thing is to have fun!
I would say that the most important thing to have when shooting strangers, candids or scenes that define a moment is not equipment, but confidence…For some it comes easy and for others it is a struggle…As for me, I do not have a problem with confidence, but still I do get into ruts and when I do, I call it a day and try again another day…Go to the same places over and over again as being familiar with certain places will boost your confidence. The locals will get to know you and not even notice you after a while. The scenes are always different as people are always different…Blend in. Be a Chameleon..Look like you belong…Take special attention to detail. If your in an upper scale area, dress the part. If your at the beach, dress the part. If your in a poor area, dress the part…Don’t stand out..
When looking for shots, if I come back with “one” good capture, I am happy as a clam. When I come back with a few and by a few I mean 4 or 5, I have had a very good day. There are many times when I go out and come back with nothing worth keeping. I am in the club that deletes 90% of my images and this is not to say that I have a 10% keeper rate. It is more like 4-5%. With the majority of my keepers being film. Go figure. I am also not a machine gun shooter. I don’t use burst mode. (Personal preference). I try and get the shot. I suppose if I used burst mode, I would have more keepers, but that is simply not my style.
I get asked this allot and also read about this a lot. It seems that people can get real dogmatic about this…Well, I to have my opinions and can only share what works for me…One of the biggest things that comes up is film VS digital. I would say to use what ever it is that makes you more comfortable. Comfort is king when street shooting as it goes hand in hand with confidence. I myself use a variety of tools.
My favorite tool for street shooting is my Pentax ME SUPER with a 17mm, 24mm, 28mm or 40mm prime lens….(In fact, they are cheap enough that I have three of them all set up slightly different…) I love this combo because it is a really small and light SLR that has a quiet shutter.. With its fast 1/2000 shutter speed, I can take advantage of ASA 400-800 speed films at F/8 to F16..This is important to me because I use hyper focal or zone focusing, making it a true point and shoot with exceptional sharpness from 5 feet to about 25 feet…I also use a 50F/1.4 or 55F/1.2 lens…More and more I have started to use a 28 or 35mm lens as well, …By using film, I am also forced to really pick my shot and try and nail it because every picture I take cost me money..I literally approach shooting film with the mind set ‘’is it a picture I would buy’’…Silly? ..Maybe, but it works for me. My keeper rate with film is far better than with digital.
When I use my DSLR’s, I have found that my favorite lenses are my Sigma 10-20mm or 17-35mm…Now in saying that, my new favorite lenses are my 24mm primes.. These seem to be working better for me as I can get really close, personal and I get better shots….
I don’t use telephoto lenses as they are simply to big, heavy and bulky and scream….”look at me”..This of course is a personal preference, but each person has to decide what he/she is more comfortable with..Telephoto lenses will also let out the creepy vibes that must be avoided at all times…
Surprisingly, many of my best captures have been caught with my G9, G10 or SD780IS Yep ..Point and shoots. They are the easiest things to use in many situations…I also use a couple of bridge cameras. I have a Fuji S9100 and Fuji S100FS…Both are great cams, but get little use because of their size…
To/Not to Do:
Things that I do and don’t do….. Don’t think to much, just shoot. If you think, you will likely miss the moment and or chicken out. Don’t hide, but be obvious. If you hide, you will let out creepy vibes and peoples senses will be directed at you…be friendly and smile allot. Talk to people..The most common thing I hear when taking folks pictures is ..”sorry, I got in your shot”..I just smile and chuckle…I have found that when people ask me why did I take their picture, I am honest with my reason .. Lying does not work well for me as I am a lousy liar. I always get caught so I avoid it. Most people are happy to have their picture taken, They just don’t know it…especially the ladies. There are times when I will ask a stranger if I can take their picture..Though not often, because I prefer the true candid…When I shoot street performers, I try and catch them candidly, but I pay them after wards. They are out to make a living and I can appreciate that…When I shoot people that are down on their luck, I will not walk away and leave them empty handed..This of course is me…
Wrapping it Up:
All in all be friendly and your state of dress is also important I think. I avoid wearing hats when I can unless I am in a place where most people are wearing them. I never wear sun glasses. I always carry minimal gear…Though there are times when you will want to purposely carry much gear to look like a pro…I do this allot for events such as protest marches, or movie premiers etc…