They really do make all the difference.
I got the chance to get out and do some more street photography in Salt Lake City last week, and I thought I’d try and apply a few things I’ve read/learned from some actual street togs and see what I could come up with. What all does that entail exactly? Well, to be honest a lot of it was just some interesting tips and tricks on how to interact with people so it wouldn’t be so awkward as I take their photo. Here’s a few I tried out that went OK:
– by continuing to look past someone after snapping their face, they often assume you were shooting something else entirely, so they don’t even ask about it.
– Ask to take someone’s photo then pose them in a few ways
– Snap first, then if they look upset or confused, compliment them on something they’re wearing. The compliment instantly eases tension and makes the subject feel you were more interested in their shirt/hat than their face.
Applying these tricks went mostly well. There were a few cases in which people were still taken aback by me shooting their picture on the street. This one in particular:
After firing off a few quick shots and moving on as the moment looked pretty personal and I didn’t want to be too disruptive, the guy called out asking if he could at least see the pics. His tone was fairly annoyed. So I tried to compliment him on his suspenders which was a miserable failure. He wasn’t happy about the photos at all. The girl he was with started discussing how they’d just lost a friend/co-worker and so I sat and chatted with them for a few about the guy named Niko who had passed and gave them my condolences. They seemed slightly more at ease as I left.
Unfortunately, this image is just slightly out of focus, or I think it would have been an incredible picture. Part of the goal as a street photographer is to capture that “human condition” or raw emotion on the faces of everyday people. This was perfect opportunity but given the lens I was using and my distance from them, I didn’t get the shot as well as I would’ve liked. Case in point about the little details. In this case, having my focus point set to 3 feet instead of 6 feet caused a blur in the guys face, detracting from the shot.
A similar case of that could be found in this photo as well:
In this case, the couple had no idea I was snapping their picture, but I was in too much of a hurry to make any sort of camera adjustments. As such, there are some awkward glare spots, and the sales clerk is exceptionally blurry. I would argue the clerk isn’t so big a deal as she wasn’t the focus of the image. The primary focus was to show the guy’s face who had clearly been drug out for shopping by his girlfriend/wife and had no desire to take part in selecting what color bath soaps they should get. It was a classic “Every man’s nightmare” scenario of being drug out shopping. My hope is I can fix some of those things with a little more post work, but the time being I felt I’d leave them as it ties together with the point I’m making.
Finally, the last image I got from that night that came out rather well, was of a young lady closing up the hipster tea place in the downtown mall area. What I didn’t notice on my first pass through the photos was some of the finer details of the image that weren’t her. For example, I ended up snap accepting this image since she was in good focus and the picture came out how I’d hoped it would.
All in all a fine capture, but on the second look through the images I noticed a couple of things in a similar photo. 1) SHe was still mostly in focus; 2) The register had the full “Have a nice day” printed on it; and 3) the lighting was just ever so slightly different that when I went through and messed with it in post, it actually looked even more like she was closing up for the night.
Those couple of small finer details I think produced a much stronger image overall. More likely than not I’ll be converting these over to black and white once the final work on them is done. In the meantime, I hope they did a good enough job showing you the difference in what taking those few extra seconds can mean for getting that perfect shot.
That’s all for this one. Until next time, thanks for reading!