forays into street photography

For a long time now I’ve wanted to get more into street photography. I haven’t made many efforts to get more serious about it, likely due to the fact that “getting into” something is a pretty nebulous goal. I tend to be shy about pointing cameras at strangers, and am usually a lot more deliberate about my photography than the fast-paced nature of people going about their own business really allows, so I haven’t made much headway in my desire to become better at it. Recently I put a little more thought into why “street photography” was something I apparently wanted to do so badly. I want to take pictures of real people doing real things, and I want to capture moments that seem entirely forgettable until you look back and realize they were the most important. (More importantly, I want to become cognizant of those moments while they’re actually happening.) This is why I’m so annoying at family get-togethers and parties–I’m the person wandering around with a camera, trying to be inconspicuous and wrinkling my nose when someone sees me and strikes a pose. In these situations I don’t want poses, I want real. But it’s hard to get “real” when you’re walking around looking for deliberate moments. People aren’t still lifes (most of the time, at least), so I realized I’d probably have to be a little more relaxed with my camera. With that in mind, I made a more explicit attempt at “street photography,” or just “trying to make more use of my camera during non-photography-specific activities such as walking,” with my last couple of rolls of black and white film. Here are the results (courtesy of Montréal and Halifax):

I’m pretty happy with them for a first attempt, and I discovered a few things that I’ll keep in mind for my next roll(s):

1. It’s best to pre-set the exposure for the ambient light so you can just point, focus and click when the moment strikes. If the light changes, check the exposure quickly and set it again. I’m still having flashbacks to a couple of shots I missed out on trying to change the aperture settings at the last minute! (Or just shoot in some other mode than manual.)

2. A few “warm-up” shots helps get over the initial jitters.

3. Taking pictures behind people is an easy way to get started, and way less intimidating than taking pictures of their fronts. I started with backs and graduated to side/three-quarter views. Hopefully I can continue to progress towards a certification of not being a total wimp.

I’m looking forward to trying again!


2 thoughts on “forays into street photography

  1. Good shots! I particularly like the bar shot.

    You may also found that shooting people from behind also prevents them from posing or hiding.

    Back in my student days, I would walk around looking like I was steadying my camera to keep it from bouncing around. I got very good at hitting the shutter release and winding the film with my left thumb. Made it east to take shots from the front.

    • Thank you!

      That does sound a little less intimidating, I’ll have to try it out the next time I go. Good thing I’m left handed!

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