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Is It Street?

Well folks,

A very interesting challenge this weekend. I was asked to escort a photographer to one of London's open air markets to help them with their street photography. At this point a discussion about equipment the ensued as to what was the right equipment to take with us, which developed into a passionate discussion regarding what actually is street photography.

After much debate and discussion, we agreed that there are many forms of "|Street" photography, but that two main schools came to mind when examining the many street shots available in some of the excellent groups on Flickr.

Street Portraiture

This school of photography is often of a candid nature, taking pictures of people without their permission and often without their awareness that they have had their picture taken.

The characteristics of a street portrait is that it is often shot with a wide aperture such as f4 or F2.8 to isolate the subject from the street they are standing in and to create a nice bokeh effect at the same time as you can see in some of the examples I gave.

Street photography

Pure street photography is a very different animal. It is often shot on a wide angle lens such as a 28mm or 35mm to capture a complete scene. A medium aperture such as f8 is used to ensure that the complete scene is sharp and within the depth of field generated.

Teaching Photography

Teaching photography is often about taking the time to understand exactly what the client is looking for and making sure that the lesson is tailored exactly to what the are trying to achieve.

To this end we now understood exactly what the client wanted to improve their street photography as they felt that much of their work in the field often resulted in them using a long 200mmm focal length and shooting portraits.

The Equipment

For the shoot I suggested that we travel light. No large camera bags, no tripods and no long lenses. In the end we settled on a simple setup that I use myself a lot.

  • Canon 35mm f1.4 L

  • Canon 5D MK III Full Frame camera

Many people use micro 4/3 or range finder camera's such as the new Fuji or Leica range to ensure that their camera are small and easily fit inside a pocket.

The Camera Training

I spent about an hour with the client talking about about how their camera was set up and configured and how to maximise the effectiveness and speed of operation to ensure that they never missed a shot because they were not ready and that the camera would be set up to deliver a shot regardless of the changing light, sunshine, shadow and cover we would encounter.

We then hit the streets taking a very slow wander and discussing what we could see as we moved. It was obvious from the diverse cultures, styles and fashions of the people moving through the market that we could easily have captured many portraits, but capturing pure street would be a much more challenging proposition.

Want to know more ? pop back tomorrow for part 2

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