Getting the Street Shots Part 3 of 3
Personality and Confidence:
In my first post on this topic, I mentioned not to over invest in your equipment more than you are comfortable damaging or scuffing in order to be on top of getting images. A timid street photographer because of gear value will lose many great opportunities. What if the timidness is based on personality, how do you find confidence to go out and shoot random people? Here are some tips, some are common sense and practical, others a little more radical and not all of you will agree with my approach, depending on your personality you’ll find something that works and please feel free to add idea’s to the conversation. I still have lots to learn as well.
Always keep your safety in mind, I never shoot without my iPod, I have an iPhone, but its also part of my photographic kit, so I have a separate iPod. Music has an amazing way of letting you see and feel a scene differently. I highly recommend anyone to try this, place yourself in a very busy scene. Play different styles of music, classical, hard rock, trance, dance, hip hop etc…. leave the camera down, just watch the scene. I am almost willing to bet that you will feel a different vibe to the area you’re in and that sense will change as the music style changes. My iPod is no stranger to having Frank Sinatra lead into a Nine Inch Nail track. Once you start feeling the pace, start firing the frames.
Homeless & Poverty vs. Smokers, Non Smokers and Open Ears
For those photographers that want to get closer to catching images of people whom have fallen on hard times or homeless, it is hard to keep enough money in your pocket to give to everyone and you can’t be expected to do so. Smokers will have one advantage in being able to offer a cigarette in exchange for conversation and a photo. Non Smokers can do this too, just keep a pack of cigarettes handy and if someone asks, you now have one to give and an immediate connection. (If you’re an ex smoker or newly quitting, congratulations, but this is a bad idea.) For those who will raise an eyebrow at this suggestion, please realize that the homeless have far too many things to worry about than just health alone, I am not advocating a continuance of unhealthy lifestyle or supporting habitual behaviour, at this point of their life, they appreciate a break, many just enjoy a conversation and will be appreciative. While you may not agree with this, you have made their day a little better than most. If you can afford to, food and drinks are also very welcomed more than just money. I have spent many years documenting the homeless and befriended many over this time because I do stop to have a cigarette with them, I don’t always ask for photos, I will if the time and connection is right.
Civil Events / Protests / Festivals
Every city, the world over has a group of people celebrating or voicing opinions (please be careful as some regions offer considerable violence and unrest that could be dangerous), the good thing with this scenario is that these events or protesters have something they want to say, they’re no strangers to a camera falling on them and will give you phenomenal moments and great photos as a result. Very rare that someone doesn’t want their photo taken during one of these events. Doing several of these types of venues will expose you to shooting people in a public arena, the more exposure you get to people, the more confidence you will gain on normal day to day basis.
Grab a Pint…Photographers get thirsty. (Water is obviously good too)
Some jittery shooters will find themselves relaxed after having a good lunch followed by alcohol or spirit of choice. Not everyone appreciates or condone alcohol, but those shooters who do appreciate, should definitely find a pint, then go knock the frames off the camera. Calm nerves makes the shooting day go easier. When I am shooting with colleagues, we often find ourselves in a pub or two. Please don’t tell anyone that I told you all to go out and get smashed.
Grab a coffee or some form of energy… Some photographers didn’t get enough sleep.
If you’re not feeling the energy, the obvious choice is to get some. Coffee or energy drinks is a great source to kick you into gear, but there are other ways to get healthy energy as well. I do the healthy things too, I prefer coffee to get me going and pints to take me down a notch.
Photography Clubs, Groups, Like Minded Individuals
To be one photographer in a crowd of hundred’s you can stand out very noticeably. Find a photography club that does urban city walks, or find a group of people that interested in this genre of photography, or just a buddy that is supportive and encouraging but will make you feel more at ease. In a group, you will all stand out, but this gives a crowd an expectation that photographs will be taken, as well no one will really know what it is your photographing, because you’re part of a larger group, rarely will you be put in an uncomfortable situation. This also gives you a social element to talk to other people and share the day, there is nothing better than a group of shooters encouraging one another to get those shots. You can always laugh about things later.
Stay tuned, I didn’t realize I had so much to say, I have another post that is very important to street photographers. What gear is the right gear to shoot with? I’ll discuss my thoughts on the next post.
Cheers, keep shooting!