The Fun of Shooting Street Photography at 200mm

Most street photography is shot at around 24mm or 35mm, but, of course, there is no reason you can't shoot it at longer focal lengths — even much longer if you so desire. This fun video follows a street photographer as he roams around Chicago, shooting at 200mm and showing just how different the photos look with such a distinctive focal length. 

Coming to you from Pierre T. Lambert, this neat video follows him as he shoots street photography in Chicago at 200mm. Traditionally, street photography is shot with wide focal lengths, as they require you to be fairly close to the subjects and help to give the viewer the feeling of being in the action and the immediacy of life. And there is certainly something to be said for that, but there are plenty of creative opportunities with longer focal lengths as well, whether it is taking advantage of telephoto compression to make the city seem even denser than it already is or to isolate elements in a frame that would be too busy otherwise. It can also be a nice alternative if you are a bit too shy for the up-close nature of traditional street photography. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Lambert. 

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11 Comments
Christian Durand's picture

Another average YouTube photographer ......

Sam Sims's picture

At least they didn't use the annoying spray and pray that quite a few 'average' photographers do.

David Pavlich's picture

While not street photography in the strictest sense, unless our club is going on a bird/wildlife type field trip, I take my 70-200 f2.8 lens. I take a lot of shots of my fellow club members while they are doing their photographic thing. Our club has an image review once a month and these shots are always fun for the viewing members.

I have mixed emotions about using a long lens for street shooting. I know my intentions aren't on the shady side, but others might not see it that way. A conundrum, for sure.

Martin Rosen's picture

Who cares whether what you do is approved if you enjoy the results and you're honest.
I am free to shoot what pleases me.

Sam Sims's picture

Each to their own but the subjects in the photos either look too distant or in closer subjects the background is too blurred out. I'm sticking with my 40mm Voightlander lens on my A7III.

Ian Oliver's picture

About half of my street photography is 200, a quarter 300 and the rest a variety.

Not mine but a lot of 300 & 200 here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mellbin/ and https://www.instagram.com/ambmellbin/?hl=en

Jon Kellett's picture

For a year or two, 70-200 was all I used for street. Mostly at over 150.

What was interesting is that I found that people were more relaxed with the big white lens. Perhaps they thought that I was shooting something else, or perhaps they assumed I was media shooting a story? I never hid. The camera was out and me looking in their direction, acting casual when taking a photo.

I don't have a 70-200 any more and don't think I'll have the same luck with a 200-600, so back to the 24-105... Usually at over 50 and often around 80-100.

charles hoffman's picture

If you want to compress your subject and obliterate all sence of depth, go ahead and use a 200 or even morr

Just don't go telling anyone that it's street

David Pavlich's picture

Yep! Some shots benefit from a shallow depth of field, some do better with a lot of the scene focused. Just because someone shoots at 200mm doesn't mean compression. A long street shot at f8 will produce a fairly long range of focused subjects. All one needs to do is remember that not everything we shoot is at f2.8 or lower. :-)

Jon Kellett's picture

I don't normally respond to such negativity, but meh.

Go out and shoot somebody with a 70-200 from 10m distance and tell me what you get. Here's an example of where I did a lot of shooting: https://goo.gl/maps/5f5FvkiXgUATmhHq7 - I love this part of town and a few blocks either side.

Love to see how "compressed" the scene is. Also, at no stage did I say I shot at 200. Mostly I was around 100 give or take (as already said), not that it matters.

The point is that such a physically large lens makes people think that you can't be shooting them because they assume that you'd have a massive amount of zoom. Non-photographers think that lens can see a match on the moon.