Sharp Images & Fuzzy Concepts
Many ask or become confused about what is the best equipment to capture street photography. Truth is, there isn’t. It’s whatever ‘you’ the photographer are comfortable shooting with. The camera does not matter, your vision and understanding the limitations of your photo equipment is what matters to us, your audience.
Ansel Adams said it best “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept” That could not be a more true to street photography. Sure, there are quality differences between equipment choices but in the end it’s the emotion the photo leaves us with that has the biggest impact, not what it was shot with. In the history of the most memorable street photography captures, most have flaws, imperfections, blurs. Not only can you feel the moment, you can also feel the photographers excitement in capturing that moment. Personally, I’d rather a blurry emotive capture than a technically flawless image from todays top end DSLR’s.
Here are my thoughts on what camera’s can do to your images.
You have a range of options for different lenses that are fantastic for street, you can also achieve desired speed captures due to the light sensitivity today’s cameras are capable of. However, these cameras are big and bulky, they’re also very noticeable, as soon as you raise one of these on a busy street, your presence will alter the moment. In some ways good, in other ways not so pleasing as people become self aware and guarded. These cameras are also usually very expensive pieces of equipment.
Compacts & Point and Shoot
These cameras are fantastic, not overly expensive, small and easy to carry and pull out when needed. They’re also a little more discreet and less likely to draw attention. They are limited in being expandable, usually fixed mounted lenses. Once you understand your cameras limitations, you’ll get the photos you want within reason.
Smart Phone / iPhoneography
Some of the images in this post are iPhone captured. It’s a very limited photographic device, however it does provide great opportunities for those moments I don’t have the rest of my photo gear. In fact I put down my DSLR’s for six months and shot only with my iPhone. Because its discreet, unnoticeable, in all honesty I have some iPhone shots that I could never achieve with standard camera gear. These images are proud additions to my portfolio. The quality doesn’t compare to my Nikon’s, the emotion beats many of my DSLR shots. You can view the results of that project here. Vimeo: iPhone Collection (Beware, there is one colour photo in there)
Film and Analogue
Addendum: I didn’t want to jump into film / analogue, it’s been years since I have touched film in any seriousness. Thanks to my wonderful analogue counterpart Derek over at Straight, No Chaser for pointing out my obvious omission of film, I invite you to go pay him a visit as his analogue work is fantastic inspiration for you film stalwarts.