A street photographer’s task is to observe the mundane human interactions that take place throughout the day and turn them into something worthy of being preserved and shared through photography. This is not an easy task.
Street photography is the most difficult genre I’ve ever attempted to pursue, and it offers hardly any potential for reward in the form of recognition or payment. And yet, so many of us are drawn to hitting the sidewalks of our town and to finding that special something that no one else noticed. Maybe we catch an elder’s smile as he watches his granddaughter chase a balloon. Between those buildings is a shaft of crisp light that no one else is paying attention to. And as we look even deeper into the scene, we see a reflection in a puddle that everyone else is trying to avoid. These scenes are fleeting and must be captured in an instant, and even when we do capture them, there is no guarantee that the final photograph will convey the beauty that we saw for that single moment in time.
If you indulge in street photography, then it is safe to say you struggle with street photography. A new 90-minute video course from The Raw Society offers some tips on how you might approach this genre. We follow Jorge Delgado-Ureña and Christelle Enquist on the streets of Marrakech, Morocco, as they document what they see.
The video begins with a discussion of Jorge’s thought process and how he approaches the task in a general sense, but once we go on location, he gives insight into how that thought process is applied in a specific place.
Jorge talks about how important it is to be honest in your approach and your body language. He acknowledges how bizarre it is to put a camera to your face and then expect the scene to just play out as if you are not there. But as you become more comfortable with this process, the people around you will become more comfortable as well.
Christelle shares her technique, which includes just being a part of the scene she wants to document. “I’ll stand around and watch them and maybe ask them a question,” she says. She points out that sometimes, she interacts with people even though she has no intention of taking a photograph. She wants to be a part of the group she is photographing. Still, Christelle advises that you make your intentions clear. Like Jorge, she stresses the importance of being honest in your approach. The clearer you are about your intentions, the easier it is to accomplish your goals in street photography.
Gear isn’t discussed until deep in the video, and Jorge doesn’t even identify his camera, referring to it only as “one of these cameras.” It appears to be a Fuji X Pro model. He stresses the importance of the camera being lightweight, and he usually pairs the body with a 35mm or 24mm lens. 50mm is the longest lens he advises using.
My favorite parts of the video are when final photographs are shown and the photographer details what he or she was seeing at that moment and how it came together in the final photograph. This video covers many different aspects of street photography and is the strongest free video I’ve seen on the subject. Best of all, no time is wasted on lengthy introductions or vlog-style personal segments. Check it out above
Thanks for posting this. I’ve been really getting into street photography over the past few years and it is very challenging. I look forward to seeing what I learn in the video.
A week ago I posted some street photos I did at the State Fair of Texas on another site. I was heavily criticized for some of the photos where the people are aware I’m taking their photo. I didn’t see that as a problem and then others were very critical of the fact I was taking photos without people’s permission. It was quite frustrating. My point is, the challenges of street photography goes beyond taking the photos themselves, it extends to the average person’s perception of it. If you’re curious here are my photos I was referring to: https://matthewtrader.com/state-fair-of-texas-2021-photos-of-the-largest...
Thank you, John. It's true that when you indulge, you struggle. But I'm not going to watch the video. It's too long.
Matthew, I know the situation of being criticised for taking pictures with a real camera, while around you dozens of people are taking pictures with their phones and nobody really cares. And after looking at your pictures, I don't see any reason for criticism. The people you photographed are not photographed in embarrassing situations or looking funny. I like the pictures. They are authentic. I somewhat admire your courage. I don't think I would have been so brave. There is only one piece of advice I would like to give: Try a different shooting angle next time. Get down on your knees or shoot the pictures from the hip. We are all used to seeing the world from our (always similar) perspective. Changing it makes the pictures interesting to look at for that reason alone.
Thank you Jan! Thanks for the advice as well, I will definitely work on that, on getting more creative angles.