Guelph-otography: What Street Photography taught me

Street Photography Downtown Kitchener, taken in Charles Terminal. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

I’m in Guelph, down town to be exact, its raining. I look around trying to find anything worth capturing when I see him crossing the street holding his wife closely. I look him straight in the eye, take the picture, then walk closer and start talking to him. This picture is an experience to me, its more than just the nice looking snapshot you see. And that is exactly the essence of Street Photography.

Having done my share of Street Photography, I can confidently say that It is by far the most noble forms of photography. There’s something about walking downtown Guelph, and interacting with people left and right until I get that one shot I left the house for. Here’s what I learned myself over the dozen times I did street photography (Be it in downtown Waterloo, downtown Guelph or Cairo (Egypt)- it applies wherever you are!)

1. Be Part of the Enviroment

Don’t isolate yourself from the scene. It does suck to have a $1000+ dollar piece of equipment in your hand, broadcast it, and seek to use it to take a picture of someone. To this day I’m still paranoid when doing Street Photography, always watching out for my beloved camera :). You need to carry yourself like a fellow human being experiencing the world like everyone around you. You’re not a photographer out to steal a moment from someone’s life and leave. I talk to my subjects, joke with them, while taking the picture.

2. Ask for the picture

Either before or after. Try to ask before when possible, unless it will affect the scene. The second photograph in my portrait gallery  is of a man who was playing music for change, I had already paid him for his music and asked for the picture then took it. People do not usually mind getting their picture taken, just ask! :)

3. Mind your surroundings

In other words, frame nicely. Do you want to include people and buildings around ? Sometimes you’d want to select a low aperture value (1.8-2.8) to blur the background and bring out the subject. Alternatively, you might want to include the background if it helps tell a compelling story.

4. Have a conversation

Don’t just take the picture and leave! :O Have a conversation with the person you photographed. My most prized picture is precious to me because of the story and the interaction behind it (But thats a story for another time/post ;)). Talk to them, ask how their day is doing, and see if they want you to email them the photograph! :)

I hope this helps you on your Street Photography adventures !

Take care,

Michael

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