How I shoot on the streets?

A Father and Son who own a business of selling scrapped items

I count myself very lucky to live in an area which provides me with really amazing opportunities and interesting subjects for street photography. In this post I will try to explain how I manage to take photos on the streets and I hope those of you who struggle with taking photos of strangers in the street will find this blog entry useful.

The most important thing I believe is to know the street where you're going to shoot. You must have at least a very basic knowledge of the street and I strongly recommend you to visit that place a couple of times without your camera, or just keep it in your bag. If it's a market, it's best to just make acquaintances with the businessmen there. Be friendly, exchange smiles, be helpful if I see an opportunity. Even if I have little time in that particular area, I just don't start shooting right away, I try to spend as much time as I can before I take my camera out of the bag.

Humans are very much predictable. So when I get to know the street, as I take out my camera I know the same scenes I saw already will repeat. So my street shots are mostly planned. I knew in advance I will find the father and son sitting there in that particular time of the day. I always know in advance that an old man with a walking stick will inevitably walk the street. There are of course some rare but very pleasant surprises which I never anticipated. But you can never count on your luck. But to make sure I never miss out on any such opportunities, I always have my camera with my in my car.

Most people are afraid of shooting strangers because they assume that those people won't like it and might even get aggressive, but my experience says otherwise. I would say that 99% of the time people welcome me, especially if I have made some quintessences, which I already mentioned above. They even pose for me which is of course not something I want so what I do is, I take one photo according to their wishes, and as soon as they know I took a shot, they get back to their usual business, and that is when I take a shot of them for myself. But...if someone objects to me and doesn't like the idea of being shot, I never get into an argument with them and remind them it's my right to shoot because it's a public place. I have to maintain good relations in that street and you need to let go of that shot and move on to the next. A lot of my photographer friends found themselves in trouble because they got into an unnecessary argument which they could have avoided.

Streets are the best places to capture stories. And to capture those stories, I don't expect them to come to me, I have to follow them. So while I'm standing in the street, and I see a poor child collecting scrap from the ground, I don't just point my camera towards him and take a shot and be done with it. I follow him and make sure I reach a place where he is picking something from the ground, I also make sure I am standing in the right place for the nicer background.

Another most important thing I always do is, I don't just take one shot of the subject and move on. I make sure I have enough shots so I can select the best one when I'm on my editing machine.

And in the end, I never cry over a shot that I missed. You have to understand that as a street photographer you will miss out on a lot of great shots. Because most of the times shots which I missed I took the next day. As I said, humans are predictable.

I will of course share more of my thoughts on my experience as street photographer, but for now I will end this here. As I wrote in my previous blog entry, I don't consider myself a good writer and I would like if you don't expect me to write profound stuff here.

If you are a street photographer like me, and you want to share some tips, feel free to add them in comments. I'm not here to teach, but do my best to share my experiences here and the way I work.

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