Tips For Candid Street Photography

I come from a journalistic background, and I have a growing passion for travel street photography. Street photography can be very rewarding but challenging at first.

The last thing you want is to interfere with the story you are trying to tell through the lens, or worse, have someone you shot come beat you and take your camera. Though I have never had the latter happen, I have been approached by someone who let me know they were on the run from the law and that I was going to have to delete what I just shot, which I did after convincing him I was not with the police.

Here are some tips I have from my experience both as a journalist and travel photographer.

Know the area and the general feel of the crowd you plan to shoot in. This means not only know what type of image you want to create but also how to blend in with the crowd as to not draw attention to yourself.

I was traveling in Las Vegas, and I wanted to try capturing the night life of Freemont Street. My first attempt didn't go well. I was dressed nice and had a large gear bag on my back. All the street buskers pegged me as a tourist (which I was) and I was constantly being approached and watched.

I changed my approach; I watched the city and casino employees working on Freemont Street. They all had the same look you get from working a long night shift. So, I dressed business casual, carried just my camera and a small bag for it, and most importantly, dawned the fatigued look of someone working overtime.

Suddenly I was invisible to the street buskers and promoters, even the other tourists gave me little notice.

On top of blending in, its helps to not be obvious when shooting. The longer you hold the viewfinder to your eye to adjust your settings, the more you start to stick out like a bad stalker. Even though street photography is spontaneous and random, you can still plan how you want your shots to look ahead of time.

I do this by metering the scene and adjusting my camera ahead of time. That way I only have to point, focus and shoot. Using a prime lens also eliminates the need to adjust focal length. When I do use a zoom lens, I pre-set the focal length for the type of image I want to create and stick to it until I want to try a different look.  Reducing the number of steps to create a photo makes it easier to focus on capturing those brief moments that makes street photography so rewarding.

-Christopher Edwards