5 Things That Helped Jumpstart My Street Photography


You've seen what accessories I use, now I'm back with tips and tricks that motivate me to keep shooting and capture moments more effectively on the streets. The entire point of this 2 part series is to show you that you can get results outside of buying a new camera or new lens. It's not always about your gear, but about efficiency and having your own strategy. These tips aren't meant to be groundbreaking, they're not special and I'm sure many street photographers implement the same practices, the sole purpose is to just share my work flow. If you like this post, then share your own tips and tricks below.

  1. Aperture Priority
     - During my early stages of street photography I spent the majority of my time shooting in manual, and while this was an educating experience, it was also a stressful one. There were a number of times where my subject walked into an area where the light changed, or even times when the light itself just shifted. Adjusting my setting back then on my Canon 6D was complicated, I often panicked and fumbled through my settings, and by the time I got everything together the moment was gone. This became easier when I switched to the Fujifilm X-T1, as everything was a control away, but when I switched to using my X-E1 I lost the ISO control and eventually tried shooting in Auto. This function helped me drastically, those brief moments of bright light or subject walking into the shadows were all taken care off.

  2. One Camera... One Lens
     - One camera, one lens isn't a practice utilized just by me, in fact, it might be one of the most recommended tips to photographers who find themselves in a funk. There a various differentiations of this practice, some put it in effect for a week, while others administer it for an entire year. My route is slightly different, for street photography I typically shoot with the Fujifilm X-E1, and 2 focal lengths, either my XF 27 or XF 35. I tend to know what I want to shoot before I leave, based on my mood, so I make my decision on which lens to select based off that information. When I go out, I only have one lens, so I have to be creative as possible. This practice helps in a number of ways. For one you'll learn how to frame your perspective without looking at your camera (still learning on the XF 27). You'll also learn how to push your camera/lens combo to capture the photograph you've envisioned. I recommend this practice to anyone, regardless of what genre of photography they shoot, it'll help you get over G.A.S. and makes you a better photographer at the same time. You can read more about this method here.
  3. Shoot Who You Are
    - A lot of my tips are on the emotional side. I find that aperture priority is the only real setting I change in camera. It's my mental that I try to adjust. Shoot Who You Are, is a metaphor for shooting how you feel that day. I wouldn't suggest passing up special moments that are opposite of your feelings, but I find that if I'm a little sad or depressed I find a connection with people who I believe are feeling the same way. Same goes for when I'm happy, or excited, whatever my feeling is that day I seem to find a way to correlate it with what/who I shoot. For the most part, I spend a lot of time by myself during my street sessions, which is why you may see a trend of isolation and separation throughout my photos.

    Related: 5 Accessories That Helped Jumpstart My Street Photography
  4. Remembering To Have Fun
     - Again, a lot of my techniques, or tips for that matter are pretty simple. I've learned that for me, I have a much better time shooting when my mindset is positive. I try so hard to be great, and at times I think that hinders me. So lately I've been pushing myself to just go out there and have fun, interact with people and let the moments come to me. I think to often we treat our own projects as work, I'm not advocating that you don't take it seriously, but don't stress if you fail. The best thing about shooting street is that it's at your time, you can pace yourself, and if you fail miserably you just go back out there and try again tomorrow.
  5. Creating A Project
     - The 365 project I started may have been a bit too challenging for me, as I ultimately failed, but for almost 39 days it got me out the house. Everyday I could only post one image, and I strived to capture the best one. It helped me become a better photographer, it gave me confidence, a boost in creativity, but most importantly a perspective of what I actually enjoyed shooting. See after shooting everyday you notice a pattern of images that may be similar, and once your find your interest it becomes fun to go out and look for a story similar, yet distinctly different from the day's previous photo. I had to sell my Fujifilm X100T to fund the repair of my XF 56, I think this gave me an excuse to stop the project, but ultimately I wish I would have continued.