Teaching and learning can only get you so far in photography. At some point, you’ll reach a skill level that makes it up to you to put time and effort into continued improvement. You must take some time to master your skills in order to improve your photos. Luckily, there are things you can do beyond dedication and self-learning. However, there are some advanced street photography tips that can be used, which can help you improve your skill level and take better photos.
1. Use Your Eye, Not A Viewfinder
It is common for people to look straight into a viewfinder when making a photograph. This allows you to forget the world around you, however, this can make street photography difficult. Through the viewfinder, your vision is hindered significantly. This can damage your ability to spontaneously capture moments. You must see everything happening around you. This can help anticipate the moments about to occur in front of the camera.
Your eyes are the best viewfinder. You will also notice more if you use your eyes. Use your eyes to scan an area, looking for subjects from far and near, waiting until you notice something. Then you can use the viewfinder to help you capture the moment. If you start by looking through the viewfinder, when the moment happens, you’ll be a half-second too slow. The viewfinder will slow down your ability to notice the moment when it occurs.
2. Embrace Spontaneity
According to Garry Winogrand, this is one of the best tips he received early in his photography education. It set him on a path to becoming one of the world’s most renowned photographers. You can spend your time thinking about what you’d like to shoot or your current work, but when you’re shooting, you should embrace your gut instincts. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing a good job, or not, or trying to work out the little details. Instead, push these thoughts aside and enjoy yourself.
There’s no need to worry about what others will think. If you believe there’s a chance for a good photograph, go for it. It doesn’t matter how weird you think the image may be. Your brain will try to talk you out of it. There’s a reason for the gut feeling, so make sure to use it to your advantage. Using your instincts allow you to shoot confidently. This will show in your work. They’ll feel more you and more real. Of course, you’ll take more bad photographs, however, the good ones will be much better. Trust your gut instincts.
Keep in mind that it’s easy to take this suggestion too far. You don’t want to machine-gun fire your camera without having an inkling of a good photograph. Although you want to take lots of photos, you still want to improve your skill. Taking random rapid photos is taking things too far. Turn off continuous shooting and ensure you’re able to capture and recognized the moment with just a few shots.
3. Think About How Your Photos Will Age
Think about our work in the historical context. If you look at classic photographs, think about what makes it special. The modest old photographs of fashions and window displays look incredible. However, these same photographs may have seemed ordinary when they were shot. If you could go back in time and take photographs, what do you think might interest you. This may be much different from what other photographers were shooting.
Is there any part of your life, that you believe will be interesting in the future? What will change? In the future, will people spend every second staring into their cell phones will huge headphones on their heads, disconnected from the world around them? Who knows?
Try not to take things for granted. If you feel yourself disregarding something in your life, think about why you feel this way. Occasionally, the situations you want to ignore, make the best photographs. So, pay careful attention to the things that are going on around you.
4. Create Themes and Consistency in Your Photos
The more you shoot, the more you’ll notice that you’re attracted to certain photographs. Find consistencies when editing, then embrace them. Over time, these ideas can blossom, becoming full-fledged books and projects.
Group the images together into collections. Consider the type of photograph that you’d like to add. The next time you come across a moment, fitting into a category, you can quickly notice and capture it. Every individual photograph is a work of art. Each collection of photographs is also a work of art. Play with the order of the photographs. The meaning which comes out will vary with different sequences.
Consistency does not mean you should avoid photographing various types of subject matter. It also does not mean you can’t use black and white and color photography. You may be diverse in your shooting methods and techniques. You can change your style and evolve as you go. However, you should still group consistencies into a project so that the photos fit together.
The key to improving your photography is repetition. You must take frequent photographs to keep your eyes sharp and improve your hand-eye coordination. Over time your instincts will improve. The more often you take photographs, the better you will be. Don’t get rusty. Even the best photographs must continually work on their craft, to maintain and improve their skills level.
If you learn to enjoy the act of photography, it will be easier for you to walk out the door and shoot more. You should not have to wait to feel inspired. Photography is not about being inspired or uninspired. If you enjoy walking, you can create a plan for how you can take photographs while you’re out. Just like going to the gym, you need to stick to your plan if you want to see results. Over time, this plan will become a routine and your enjoyment will grow.
There’s no need to worry about bringing back great photographs. This might happen, but you should not feel said if you don’t get anything good during your session. Good photographs will come in time, however, if you often feel frustrated, it can affect your shot. Enjoy the process of being out in the world. Do something you love. The more you enjoy that, the better.
6. Photograph Where You Live
You can use where you live as a backdrop for a project, whether you live in a small suburb, or the middle of a big city. Look for an area that you frequent most and know best. Go to a place that you think would be boring for photographs. Then, you can figure out how to get the best photos. Don’t take anything for granted. Anything can make a beautiful and good photograph. It only takes dedication.
7. Emotion and Gesture
A photographer’s job is to pass on an idea or emotion to the viewers of their work. How you do this, is something you should figure out. Search for emotions and feelings when shooting. Aim to create evocative photographs.
When photographing people, capture them while portraying emotions. This can be shown through facial expressions, what they’re doing, or their body gestures. Sometimes, you may capture unique looking people with no gesture or emotion, which will ruin the photograph. Other times, you’ll capture the image of someone that you didn’t think would be a great subject, but their gestures and emotions can make the photograph. When you photograph people, emotions are essential.
8. Zone Focusing
In street photography, zone focusing is one of the hardest technical skills to master, but it’s important to learn. At first, you’ll screw up many of your photographs, however, over time it will become more accurate. This is the best way to obtain a sharp photograph.
Zone focusing works well in busy areas. However, this technique can be used anytime, after your skill improves. I personally zone focus 60 percent of the time, then use autofocus for the rest. If your subject is still, and you have time to autofocus, it’s good to use this feature to guarantee perfect focus. The rest of the time, zone focusing should be used.
What is Zone Focusing and How Is It Done?
Zone focusing is a strategy that uses manual focus for your camera. You must guess the subject’s distance. This means you’ll need a distance meter in your camera or on your lens. You must set your camera, or lens, to manual focus. Then you can set your focus to a specific distance from the camera. I prefer a distance of 8 to 10 feet, although I will use a smaller distance in a really busy are where people are close together. Next, determine how far away the person is from the camera and now you know that all subjects ate that distance will be sharp.
You can do zone focusing at very large apertures, even f/2. However, this can become difficult. The focusing strategy will work better with the f/16, f/11, and f/8 apertures and a wide-angle lens, like the 35mm. This ensures your image has a large depth of field, but you must make sure you raise the ISO in order to achieve this effect and still maintain a fast shutter speed.
There may be a significant area in front of the spot you’re focusing on, and behind it. Everything in this area will be in sharp focus. This can help when you miscalculate distance, such as when the perfect moment occurs and you’re not able to focus on the exact area or if you have several subjects at varying distances and you want all their images to be relatively sharp.
It’s a good idea to start zone focusing in an area with bright sunlight while using a wide-angle lens. Then, you will be able to shoot at f/16 or f/11, which means more of your images will be sharp. This gives you less to worry about. Set the focus at 8 to 10 feet away. Pay attention to your subject, more than what you’re focusing on. This can be a very freeing experience for a photographer. Any time you’re able to save time by not having to focus will make it easier for you to capture moments. This will help you catch instantaneous and spontaneous moments as they appear.