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Street photography on your smartphone

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Tips for Taking Candids #1: Snap a candid while pretending to make a phone call. See more extensive versions of these tips on the Mobile Photo Workshop site. All images in this article by Anton Kawasaki.

Much has been said -- both good and bad -- about the explosive growth of mobile devices in photography. But whether you’re a staunch supporter of the mobile movement, or one of its detractors, there’s no denying that there’s one genre of photography that mobile devices seem absolutely perfect for: street photography.

Devices like smartphones are tailor-made for taking candid pics of strangers in public. They’re small, discreet and always with you. And while some may argue the lack of optical zoom in most smartphones (don’t even bother with digital zooms, please) is a con for street shots, I vehemently disagree and say it’s actually a plus. Smartphones allow you to get super close to the action, and become part of the scene -- delivering much more personal and therefore meaningful photos. Optical zooms are great for shooting safaris, concerts, sports and other things you can’t normally get close to. But street photography is about shooting people, and if you can’t get close to them to take your photograph, then you’re just not connecting with your subjects to begin with. It’s that intimate connection that really makes a difference in street shots. As Robert Capa once said: "If your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

So what exactly is street photography? Wikipedia defines it as “a type of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places.” A common misunderstanding, however -- especially in the mobile photography community -- is that street photography can mean any photo that’s taken on a street. But that’s not exactly accurate. For example, photos of just buildings, graffiti on a wall or flowers in a pot -- while technically shot on a street -- are more accurately defined as architectural, documentary or nature photography. There are numerous types of photography that can be taken on a street, but street photography generally involves people and is candid. 

Street photography has been popular for over a century, and became widespread (for obvious reasons) once cameras became more portable. Well-known masters of the genre include Henri Cartier-Bresson (who popularized the term “the decisive moment”), Robert Frank (known for his groundbreaking book “The Americans”), Helen Levitt, Garry  Winogrand, Elliott Erwitt and many more, too numerous to name here. Street photography is considered a raw reflection of regular life and society around us. It’s often ironic, can sometimes evoke an emotion, or simply give us insight into the human condition. The best street photographers, in my opinion, have a clear respect for their subjects -- even if those subjects aren’t always aware that they are being photographed. The more respect you have, the better (and easier) your street photography will be -- especially when shooting with a mobile device.

This article will break down some of the basics you'll need to know before you try street photography yourself, while also discussing the philosophy and approach of shooting candids that's quite different than most other types of photography out there.

Tips for Taking Candids #2: Stay stationary and let your subjects walk into your shot.

Using the right device

I’ll refer primarily to the iPhone here (and related iOS apps) as that’s what I personally use. It’s also been rated highly in numerous tests and reviews (see Connect’s own review of the iPhone 5). Sure, there may be smartphones with more megapixels (like Nokia’s 808 Pureview), but megapixels alone are not what’s most important in street photography. Besides having an incredible lens and sensor, the iPhone also features the unbeatable Apple App Store that contains thousands more (and better) camera and editing apps than any other mobile system out there -- many of which offer fine-tuned control over focus and exposure. It’s the total package -- the combination of camera, software and hardware -- that just can’t be beat for street photography.

The iPhone 4, 4S and 5 are all great cameras (though I still managed to take great pics even when I was on my first generation iPhone -- there’s something to be said for the lo-fi charm of earlier models). The latest iPod Touch’s 5MP camera is similar to the iPhone 4 and very capable as a camera too (especially with that handy-dandy loop it now comes with to help ensure you won't accidentally drop your device).

That said, a lot of the tips mentioned here can apply to any mobile device (or camera, for that matter), as the best street photography has always been about capturing the right moment, and not necessarily super-sharp, perfectly-exposed images. Just do not try taking street photos with your iPad, please -- or any other tablet on the market, no matter how good a camera it may have. Not even the new iPad Mini. It’s still too large and by no means “discreet.” The most effective street photography is when you’re as “invisible” as possible.

Tips for Taking Candids #3: Play the tourist and pretend to be taking vacation photos while actually snapping candids.

The basics 

1). Before you take a single shot, make sure the sound on your phone is off (you can always switch to “Vibrate on Silent” in the Settings app so you don’t miss any important calls). This may seem super obvious, but I’ve been surprised to learn how many people don’t actually do this first. Trust me -- you don’t want your camera's "shutter" sound to go off when you’re trying to be sneaky and discreet.

2). If you’re planning to shoot for a while, try turning off all notifications for the duration to avoid any unnecessary distractions. (There’s nothing more annoying then when you’re in the middle of framing the perfect shot, and suddenly you get an alert saying it’s your turn to play on Words With Friends). Better yet, if you don’t expect to get any important phone calls, switch your phone to “Airplane Mode” to ensure no interruptions whatsoever. An extra bonus is that you’ll use less battery power while you’re at it!

3). Speaking of power: if you plan to be out all day shooting, make sure you don’t run out of it. Keep a power cord handy in case you need to recharge somewhere. Or consider investing in a battery case or external charger -- they are lifesavers!

4). Street photography needs to be captured quickly, which means you need to fire up your preferred camera app as fast as possible whenever you see those amazing moments unfolding. On the iPhone, the built-in camera app has the quickest access of any other app, as it’s just an upwards flick of the camera icon from the lockscreen. However, the native camera app is still very limited. It may be the fastest, but it doesn’t offer pro controls such separate focus and exposure. Try using some more advanced shooting apps such as ProCamera, Camera+, 645 ProPureShot, etc. (or Camera ZOOM FX on Android) -- but make sure they are easily accessible and at least on your first home screen (and not in a folder). Better yet, place your favorite shooting app in your dock so it’s always there no matter what home screen you’re on. And for even faster access, pre-load the app and have it open and ready, and then put your phone back in your pocket so when you take it out later and unlock it to shoot, the app’s already on.

Tips for Taking Candids #4: Window shopping — snap a candid while casually checking out a store's window.

Holding your phone

How you hold your smartphone will make a huge difference in how effective you are taking candid street shots. One of the most important tips? Learn to shoot one-handed.

I know what you're thinking: "But I get more steady shots when I'm holding the camera with both hands!" This may seem like the case, but it's not always true. First of all, you're going to look twice as obvious that you're taking a photograph when using two hands -- and you don't want that. Remember, the idea is to be "invisible." When you hold the phone with one hand, while tapping at a shutter button on the screen with a finger of your other hand, it's a clear signal to everyone around you that you're trying to take a pic. Second, the fact that you might "jab" at that button may mean you're slightly moving the phone, which could result in blurrier images. Practice using one hand only to hold and trigger a shot (with your thumb). 

An important thing to also consider, is that in most shooting apps (ProCamera being an exception), a photo is actually taken when your finger is released from the shutter button, not when you first push down on it. This will help greatly in taking quicker, more stable shots.

Also try holding the phone at angles that aren't directly in front of you. You may want to practice taking photos while the phone is closer to your waist, for example. But try to look somewhere other than down at your screen, so as to not arouse suspicion. I know it may be hard to imagine shooting "blind," but it's possible -- though it takes a lot of trial and error. Try taking shots of friends or inanimate objects (that would be at the same height/distance of people on the street), and see how well you do with your framing. If you're off a bit, adjust your angles accordingly until you get it right. This is a "safer" approach to take at first, but the more comfortable you get at taking candids later on, the more bold you'll find yourself getting -- and you'll start to care more about achieving the perfect composition before any concern of whether or not anyone "spots" you.

Finally, try shooting in landscape mode whenever possible. Not only will this produce more eye-pleasing street compositions, but simply holding the phone this way will be slightly less conspicuous. Think about it:  most people taking a picture with their phone hold it in portrait mode, as it's the most "natural" way of holding the device. So when others see you holding it that way, it seems more likely you might take a photo. In contrast, usually the only reason to hold it sideways is if you're playing a game, looking at a map, texting someone to use the bigger touchscreen keyboard or some other activity not usually associated with picture-taking. Take advantage of this belief!

Tips for Taking Candids #5: Be bold and snap away while asking someone for directions.

Zone focusing and exposure

In most instances, your phone’s native camera app might be the quickest to fire up, but you'll have to wait for the combined focus/exposure to read adjust each time for every shot, and the automatic settings won’t always reflect what you want. Unfortunately, you won't be able to split focus and exposure separately -- resulting in some not-so-perfect shots each time.

A better way to shoot is by using one of the more pro shooting apps mentioned above, and then pre-adjust the focus ahead of time. If you plan to shoot only subjects that are 5-6 feet in front of you for example, then use a wall (or the back of a person that's standing still) that's at that same distance to pre-focus on first, and then lock that focus into place (different apps have different ways to lock focus, so consult the app’s instructions). Now, when you walk around and photograph people, you'll know that anyone who enters an area of space about 5-6 feet in front of you will be in focus. You can also stand still at a crowded spot and wait for people to come to you and only shoot people while they're at that same distance.

The same pre-adjusting can be done with exposure too, but it's a bit more tricky. Depending at what angle the sunlight is shining down, and what angle you're facing at any given time, you may need to re-adjust the exposure accordingly. If an area is extremely well lit, and you plan to only photograph people while in sunlight, aim the camera toward the sky and lock the exposure there. When you bring it back down to street level, you'll notice only the people directly in sunlight will be beautifully illuminated (but not overblown), while everything else will be in dark shadows -- creating a very dramatic look.

What you don’t want is for any area of your photo to be blown out with white highlights. It’s almost better to slightly under-expose an image, because at least all of the digital information will still be there (and can then be brought back to life in photo editing apps like Snapseed (now on Android as well as iOS), Filterstorm, Camera+, Perfectly Clear and many others). Otherwise, when an area is blown out, that digital info is lost forever -- and no amount of editing can bring it back. 

Tips for Taking Candids #6: Look for people "in their own world" who may not notice you.

Be aware of backgrounds and surroundings

Street photography has to be fast and spontaneous most times, and so it’s not always easy to get the “perfect” background with every shot. But it’s important to be mindful of backgrounds whenever possible and adjust your position/composition accordingly. 

When focusing on a single subject, you want the background to be as “clean” with as few distractions as possible. If you’re photographing an interesting character who’s walking down the street towards you, try to not get a shot that’s just straight down the sidewalk, as there’s a strong chance there will be other people behind that person, which will draw the viewer’s attention away. Instead, try to step toward the curb, and angle your frame toward a building so that the building (instead of the long length of the sidewalk) becomes the background. Hopefully it will be more appropriate and cleaner, and therefore spotlight your subject even more. Don’t wait too long, however, as the closer the subject is to you, the harder it will be to get a non-blurry shot.

Be careful of any elements that are sticking out from behind your subjects, especially around their heads. If there’s a pole or something else that looks like it’s coming out of their ear, it can ruin what may have been a great shot.

Also be very mindful of light and where it falls within the frame of where you’re shooting. If your subject happens to be in the shade, but there is sunlight on background elements, your subject will end up too dark, while the background will become overblown. Try adjusting your angle so that the entirety of the frame is within the shade to allow for a more even exposure throughout. If it seems too dark, you can always brighten it back up when editing. 

Tips for Taking Candids #7: Look for people craving attention! But practice taking candids of them anyway ...

Find your story

Now with all the technical considerations out of the way, let's talk about some of the most important elements of street photography, like finding a “story” to tell, and your overall attitude and approach.

While street photography is technically any candid photo of one or more people in a public place, a photo of an average person just walking or on the phone isn’t all that exciting. Knowing the basic elements of good photography (great lighting, excellent composition, etc.) is helpful, of course -- and there is a ton of information on the Internet to help you get started with those basics. But really, the key to amazing street photography is simply finding a good story.

So what is it that you hope to say with your photographs? If you were to describe your pics to someone else, without actually showing them, would they sound interesting? A common mistake people make when starting out is simply to shoot anything they see on the street, without much rhyme or reason. They shoot, shoot, shoot at anything that moves, and hope that something interesting ends up in their photo roll. Often there may be a couple of shots that end up having nice lighting, or an interesting aesthetic, and so those are the images that end up being shared on social media. But those photos don’t actually show anything that interesting happening, or don’t have compelling characters. They don’t have a story. So while some may be pretty or interesting, they’re ultimately forgettable. 

A good way to “train” your eye to find good stories happening around you is to go to public places and observe, and to not take out your camera to shoot. Instead, watch what’s happening around you and look for interesting characters or “decisive moments” that catch your eye. Yes, it will be painful to only observe these moments and not capture them with your camera, but trust me, this will help you in the long run. Keep a journal in a Notes app of the best “photos” you witnessed but didn’t take. Read them back to someone else later. If this other person agrees these would have made good photos, then you’re on to something. If not, keep trying.

The point of this exercise isn’t to suppress your instinct to shoot. If you feel inclined to press the shutter button, there’s usually some reason for it. But by training yourself to look for those moments that really matter, or those subjects that really stand out and that tell some sort of story, then you will strengthen your focus -- and you’ll find yourself with much more meaningful shots in your camera roll that make more of an impact upon your viewers.

In this day and age of mobile photography, there is an over-saturation of people sharing images on social media channels. You really want your photos to stand out and SAY something, and for people to stop and take notice.

Tips for Taking Candids #8: Misdirection — catch your subject while their attention is focused elsewhere.

Attitude and approach

Taking candid shots of total strangers can seem quite intimidating. Many first-timers (and even people who have been doing it for years) often fear that they'll be "caught" taking photographs of others, either by the actual subjects themselves or by other people nearby. It's important to ask yourself why you're taking candid photos in the first place. Are you planning to use these photos for nefarious purposes? Are you stalking someone? We would really hope that’s not the case. 

Most likely, your purpose is the same as most other street photographers -- an attempt to capture the magic of life around you, document your city, create beautiful art, etc. -- and therefore you should have nothing to worry about. The right frame of mind makes all the difference, and it’s also important to treat your subjects with the utmost respect. When you take someone else’s picture, ask yourself that if it was you, would you be OK with it being “out there” for the public to see? Always try and get honest portrayals of people whenever you can.

With noble intentions on your side, you’ll become more confident and secure when you're shooting candids. You'll notice that the better you feel about what you're doing (and provided you've mastered all the technical aspects above), the easier it will be to achieve street photography without your subjects being aware of you (or if they are, not caring that much). 

What you don’t want to be while shooting is nervous, self-conscious or feeling guilty about what you're doing. As soon as any of these emotions enter the picture, it starts to become reflected in your body language and affects your photo-taking -- and it will throw off your game completely.

If you’re using the above techniques and methods, while having the right attitude, you’ll be surprised by how “invisible” you become. But in the rare case someone does spot you, the worst that can happen is they might ask you if you took their picture. And the worst way to react to this question is by lying and looking suspicious. This will just make the situation worse.

So don’t ever let it get to that point! Instead, approach the situation with a completely different attitude. Be upbeat, and very positive, and tell them you took their photo because you liked their look. Show them the pic, and ask them if they’d like a copy sent to them. Being super friendly and direct with them will usually catch the person off guard, and make them less likely to be mad at you. Be sure to have a folder on your phone already set up with any other candids that you’ve taken so you can show examples and explain to the person that you’re trying to practice your street photography skills. By this point, they probably won’t ask you to delete the photo -- but if they still do, by all means delete it! You can always get other great photos.

Tips for Taking Candids #9: Position a friend in front of your subject and pretend to take a photo, while taking a real photo of your actual subject that's behind once your friend steps aside.

Permissions and the law

Many people wonder if permission is needed before taking someone’s picture, and whether it is even ethical to take someone’s photo without them knowing. You can certainly try asking someone if they wouldn’t mind that you took their photo -- however, be aware that by doing this the type of photography that you do will change from “street photography” to “street portraiture.” It’s an important distinction to make. Both approaches can yield amazing results, but they are different. Once someone is aware that you are taking their photo, they often put up a “shield” and their attitude can completely change as they put on a “camera face,” which isn’t usually what attracted you to the person in the first place. It’s then an entirely different skill to get people comfortable enough to be photographed in their “true” state again.

It's also important to understand the laws of shooting candids of people on the street where you live. In the United States, it's perfectly OK to take photos of anyone as long as it's in a public place. Download the Photographer’s Rights app for iOS (or seek out a similar one if you use a different platform) for information specific to any country. It ultimately comes down to whether or not you feel it’s necessary to ask permission or not. As for ethics, that’s debatable. Just remember that all of us are being recorded in public almost all the time, especially in big cities -- there are security cameras virtually everywhere we go. It’s very hard not to be captured on camera these days, and no one is ever “asking” us for permission in those instances.

Usually when someone is bothered by the thought of their picture being taken, it’s because they’re uncomfortable with the notion of where the picture will ultimately end up. That’s why it’s important to know where you can ultimately share your photos, and what you’re ultimately allowed to do with them (the following applies at least to the U.S.):

What’s allowed:

  • Taking people’s photos in a public place without their permission.
  • Sharing such photos in any kind of social media.
  • Using photos for any journalistic purpose, as in a magazine, newspaper or blog.
  • Printing photos in a book that serves a specific artistic purpose to represent the photographer’s style.
  • Displaying photos in a gallery, and even selling one-time prints.

What’s NOT allowed:

  • Using images of people in any form of advertising that implies an endorsement for a product or service.
  • Using someone’s image in a way that misrepresents them in a way that’s damaging to their reputation, or displays them in a negative light (another reason to always treat your subjects with the utmost respect).
  • Using someone’s image for continual commercial profit, such as in printing postcards, T-shirts, and other products.

You can, however, get around the “not allowed” restrictions above by getting someone to agree to fill out a standard “model release.” You can do this if you’ve asked their permission first, or even try to do it after you’ve taken a candid shot of them. No need to carry these releases with you -- just search “model release” in your app store and you’ll find plenty of free (and paid) apps suitable for your needs that you can always have with you. Be aware that most of these apps will ask for a ton of personal information from your subject, which most people won’t be willing to do for a total stranger. However, if you can manage to get people to sign a release, it will free you to do a lot more with those photos. (But again, this then becomes "street portraiture" which is much different than "street photography.")

Tips for Taking Candids #10: Pretend to show a friend a cool app on your phone, while actually taking a pic of that amazing moment you're seeing ...

Practice, practice, practice

I can’t stress how much continued practice makes perfect. I used to be terrified of taking photographs of strangers, but now it’s just second nature. Again, as mentioned above, attitude and your intent is very important. Once you have the right approach, the rest is easy.


Anton Kawasaki (@anton_in_nyc), has become known for his intimate and candid street portraits, which capture the people of New York in "moments" that express love, despair, humor, and the multitude of emotions that make up daily life. His images have been featured in several magazines and in exhibitions in various cities around the world. He co-teaches a series of online workshops on mobile photography, and is a visual storyteller/mobile photographer for hire. He currently resides in Brooklyn with his husband Sion Fullana -- a pioneer in the mobile photography movement.

Comments

Total comments: 42
bernd schmekel

Interesting article, thanks!

0 upvotes
sonnytev

the tip on taking pictures on the sly -- this is deceiving and totally dishonest, I would think. Being "in the picture" means, as far as I am concerned, that your subjects accept you as part of the experience. I take pictures with a camera and i let my subjects know it. 95 % of the t ime they do not object. If they do, then don't take the picture. Unless it is a newsworthy image (reportage, an accident, etc) then you don't need permission. But if it is a highly personal interaction (like the lead picture for this article), I think one owes the couple at least the knowledge that they were a part of your experience.

1 upvote
Mishobaranovic

The majority of the great street photographers take photos on the 'sly' so that they can capture the spontaneity and unpredictability of the human experience. As Anton clearly stated it's perfectly legal to take photos of people in a public place in the US. I agree that it's a nice thing to do to share the top photo with the couple.

0 upvotes
delastro

I think you have in the US the right to take photos but not the right to publish the photos, look here: http://lifehacker.com/5912250/know-your-rights-photography-in-public

in germany it is different and simple: you have not the right

0 upvotes
theblondegypsy

Awesome piece, thank you! An explanation of permissions and the law was what I was hoping to find here most and you indeed did a great job covering that. An app I might recommend for those intimidated by snapping candid shots is one called SpyPic. Not the best name, I know, and I'll probably get a lovely comment from some Dick about using such an app...but it's perfect for shooting in situations when you'd like to capture what's going on when there is no way people around you won't notice (I use it mostly on metros, buses). BTW, if you'd like a real Words with Friends challenge in between your shots, look for LarryLare.

0 upvotes
Midwest

Frankly, and IMO, the vast majority of street shots aren't worth a second look, or usually a first one. I've seen enough backsides of people walking away, people eating at sidewalk cafés, people sitting at bus stops, and I don't get the interest of them.

3 upvotes
Anton Kawasaki

While there's definitely a lot of uninteresting street photography out there, the same can be said about ANY genre of photography. Obviously you're not looking in enough of the right places to be inspired! ;-)

0 upvotes
mschf

"Street portraiture" IS STILL "street photography". Jeeez.

1 upvote
io_bg

But if "street portraiture" means "posed portraits taken at public space" then it certainly isn't street photography.

0 upvotes
Rage Joe

I bet you have take a shot of the pavement to be really a true street photographer? Candidly.

2 upvotes
Anton Kawasaki

While many people often lump street portraiture under the "umbrella" of street photography, it's VERY important to note that taking candid shots of people and taking posed shots are two extremely different skill sets -- and should be distinguished accordingly. Both types are quite difficult to do in a way that makes an effective and well-done "photograph" (while it's quite easy to take just a "snapshot" using either style). There are some people who can do only one style well, and others who are good at both -- but they ARE very different, even if they "seem" similar on the surface.

0 upvotes
mschf

Take Eugene Atget: among the pioneers of "street photography", yet he seldom photographed people. His thing was buildings (windows/doors, yards, etc). Street photography isn't strictly about taking "candid shots of people". That's just one sub-genre. Anyway, a random stranger off the street agreeing to informally pose for you is also a "candid shot of a person". You can call it "street portraiture" but it falls under the umbrella of "street photography", as does snapping pics of buildings, sewers, windows, people's backs, whatever.

Your own "be bold and snap away while asking for directions" photo is, by your own definition, a street portrait. While you may not have asked for permission, the kid is obviously granting it to you anyway while being aware that you are taking photos of her. And, according to you, once someone is "aware", it's no longer "street photography".... still, you've included it in your "street photography" article as an example of "street photography".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
mschf

@Rage Joe: my passion is "the decisive moment" and what I like to call "the stolen portrait", but since we are defining "street photography" and trying to remain objective about it, then yes, a shot of a pavement is a street photograph. Whether I like that kind of street photography or not (hint: about as much as I like pics of people on the street doing nothing interesting) is another topic :-)

0 upvotes
mschf

@io_bg: why isn't it street photography? Are you talking about a random person striking a cheesy pose for the camera, or something of a commercial nature? Sure, a photo shoot with a model at some intersection is a major set-up gig, with thousands of shots taken just to get a few that are good for a mag cover (or whatever), but a candid portrait of someone who's aware that they're being photographed (and is even putting on a pose) is by all definitions a street photograph.

In the end, what really matters is the approach. If you have the skill to immerse yourself in a crowd, chances are you'll get some great street photos. If you're willing to sink to "shooting from the hip" or "telephoto" street shooting, you'll get crap... but hey, it's still "street photography", whether you like it or not.

1 upvote
Rage Joe

@mschf "Your own 'be bold and snap away while asking for directions' photo is, by your own definition, a street portrait. While you may not have asked for permission,"

Yeah right, that's a portrait, a poor one, but what the heck, the most important part in "street photography" seems to be that you don't ever ask for permission, or try to be honest about what you are doing, or what could be the worst mistake a "street photographer" could ever make: to make any connection with your subject ( rather just an object that is, in this case ).

0 upvotes
Rage Joe

I personally feel that the best street photography is done by people who can relate to the people they are photographing. Say if you want to take any meaningful pictures of a gang on the streets you really have to have some kind of connection with them. You have to have the courage to meet the people.

0 upvotes
mschf

@Rage Joe: I agree with you, I basically wrote the same thing earlier, somewhere down below. But, the question isn't what we personally like or don't like, the question is what is "street photography". Since it's beginnings, it's been pretty much a loose ideal but those that pursued it, pursued it with much more thought than those who are pursuing it nowadays... but unfortunately, it's still "street photography".

Regarding "connecting with people", I see it more like staying under the radar while still being fully exposed in public. It's an honest approach. Asking for permission is cowardly, however, being seen and chased also means you're not doing something right :-). However, to establish a repertoire with a street gang, to be able to photograph them is, at least to me, more along the lines of "documentary photography" or "reportage".... which I also enjoy viewing and do consider a lot of it as a type of "street" photography.

0 upvotes
delastro

after this article you should read this here on dpreview: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/3981014128/street-photography-street-robbery

0 upvotes
Micky Nixgeld

New York. New York. New York...
The rest of the world is just wild bush with no people at all. Not even animals.
There are billions of streetshoots from New York. I think we´ve already seen it all.
Using a mobile is just a gimmick trying to make yourself interesting while you are actually doing the same thing all over again.
On the You Tube there are tons of "courses" in Street and every second another 36-roll is uploaded somewhere on the net.
Mobiles will just dilute the whole thing even more.

1 upvote
Rage Joe

I have to add another comment. Your "tips" were really all like tips how to become, behave like a thief. To be frank I despise that kind of attitude towards your subjects. No respect at all. And then all the other photographers have to carry that burden on their shoulders after your school and your lessons, and your "tips".
Don't be surprised if people don't respect you and what you are doing, that's just a mirror.

3 upvotes
Anton Kawasaki

You are absolutely free to feel that way. People have been capturing candids of street life since cameras became portable. I'm not really talking about anything new here in terms of photography -- only in how best to take it with a mobile device.
I'm not sure if you read the whole article? If you did, you would have seen that I make a point about how I respect my subjects, and believe that others should too. Candid photography shouldn't be something "sinister" unless that's the photographer's intention -- I'm not sure why you feel that way about the genre of street photography, which, again, has been a highly-regarded medium of photography for over a century.

1 upvote
SionFJ

It is normally not much of my taste to post any comments to any of these forums, because it tends to be futile and get confrontational quickly without a way to have a constructive dialogue or make the other person see anything they won't want to see. But after reading your comment, Rage Joe, I can't stay silent on this one, I'm sorry.

Perhaps that mirror you mention could be applied to you/your comment here as well, for you arrive unannounced and uncalled for, without even introducing yourself, not even showing your face or real name, all the while throwing big words and insults to Anton with no way to even know who YOU are or why you even feel so strongly about the topic at hand.

I don't see how you can call the craft of candid street photography or Anton's words disrespectful when you clearly show you don't even know what respect means.

1 upvote
Rage Joe

I told you, you looked in the mirror. That's what you get. Hey but why don't you just "pretend" some more ;)

1 upvote
Rage Joe

Horrible advise, "tips". How about just making a good connection with the people you photographing, instead.

4 upvotes
Anton Kawasaki

If by "making a good connection" you mean asking permission for a photo, that's actually called "street portraiture." That's a perfectly valid form of photography (which I mention in this article), but this is actually about "street photography" -- a respected genre of photography that's been around for ages.

2 upvotes
Rage Joe

"that's been around for ages".

Well, I guess you know my answers already, what else has been around for ages :)

2 upvotes
io_bg

If you make a good connection with the people you're photographing then it won't be street photography anymore.

0 upvotes
mschf

These comments only verify to me that while any tom/dick/harry can go out and take "street" photos, not many understand the "making a good connection" part of the equation. I don't think Joe was talking about asking for permission, rather how your conduct, with camera in hand, is perceived by the people around you.

3 upvotes
Rage Joe

mschf, you were right.

You don't even have to ask for permission when you are behaving like a decent human being, when you are not just a thief in the night trying to steal the picture, but someone who's interested in his subjects. There is a huge difference there. Only having that much decency carries you already pretty far. So, do not act like a thief!

"any dick can go out and take 'street' photos" :)))!

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
mike kobal

Anton, I am a big fan of your mobile street photography, really fantastic work, respect. Glad to see your post here. Great tips
>>For me, my main concern is what's actually happening IN the photos - the story. If you look at some of the well-known masters of street photography, you'll find plenty of blurry, not-perfect photos here and there -- but all amazing moments.<<
totally agree :)
cheers
Mike

3 upvotes
RoelHendrickx

Some good tips for street photography, of which most are generally valid (with any camera) and a few are mobile-photography specific.
There was not much new here for me, but it is a nice summary of useful information, especially for those who are new to street photography.
They might want to consider checking out some of the forums on DP Review for more inspiration.

2 upvotes
Anton Kawasaki

Thanks! This was definitely written mostly for people who are just starting out. I get asked a ton of questions on how I approach taking street shots, and this addresses almost all.
And yes, people should definitely check out the forums on DP review (as well as studying well-known street photographers in general) for more inspiration! The only problem I find with most photography forums is that the discussion often devolves into talk about "tech" aspects over story and actual content. What I like about using a mobile device for shooting street is that people can forget about the device, and just focus on getting a good moment. So when people peruse the forums, just please keep that goal in mind!

1 upvote
Dédéjr

"That said, a lot of the tips mentioned here can apply to any mobile device (or camera, for that matter), as the best street photography has always been about capturing the right moment, and not necessarily super-sharp, perfectly-exposed images"
Just as well you said that, as i only see maybe one of your images that was reasonably sharp and did not have blown highlights, although maybe that was the point?????

0 upvotes
Anton Kawasaki

Well I could mention the fact that many of these photos were taken on older devices, going all the way back to the iPhone 3G. But yeah...that's not really the point.
I know from previous comments you've made that your main concern with photography seems to be "quality" of photos. For me, my main concern is what's actually happening IN the photos - the story. If you look at some of the well-known masters of street photography, you'll find plenty of blurry, not-perfect photos here and there -- but all amazing moments. If technical "perfection" is so very important to you, then clearly mobile photography just isn't your thing...

1 upvote
Lubyanka

My own speciality is audio, I was researching cameras for a replacement (addition) for my beloved but well-aged 9-year-old Konica Revio 510z (I got an RX100, wow!), and some of the teminology I came across was puzzling me.

"For me, my main concern is what's actually happening IN the photos - the story. [...] you'll find plenty of blurry, not-perfect photos here and there -- but all amazing moments. If technical "perfection" is so very important to you, then clearly mobile photography just isn't your thing..."

For me, this more than anything else helped me to understand what people mean when they say 'pixel peeping'. You helped me understand that 'pixel peeping' is somewhat analogous to the way audiophiles strongly prioritise gold connectors and suchlike.

I'm sure this wasn't in your mind when you created this piece, but it did help me a lot, so thank you very much for that. :)

Oh, and also, having come across it for the first time, I just want to say I <3 your work. :)

1 upvote
Dédéjr

Yes you could indeed say that. I`ll raise you a Robert doisneau, quality and feeling, are not mutually exclusive.....

0 upvotes
ryanshoots

@Dédéjr, I feel truly sorry for you if your enjoyment of photography is coupled with the technical quality of a photos. Photography is an art, not a science.

@Anton, I enjoyed the article.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Dédéjr

no but art as you say i do believe has limits, sometimes bad art or photography is just that bad.
Of course that is all subjective.
Art can be anything and also mass art your words mind show with mobilephones and facebook mass mediocraty, even by so called pros....

0 upvotes
CliveRowland

It's amazing how so many negative replies people throw up on a post like this. While the work here may not be 'your thing' that doesn't make it worth of your zealous dismissal. We need more posts like this, not just endless posts about new gear and f'king mindless ISO bickering.
Anyone saying that NY street photography has been done already should look at EVERY avenue of photography, Its all been done a million times, you don't have to change history every time you press the shutter.

1 upvote
Dédéjr

Well Clive
You could say that but.. this was posted here where you can comment so there!! Seriously though should we all say nothing because if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all??

1 upvote
SionFJ

Perhaps if what people chose to say would include something to contribute to a greater dialogue, some examples of your own work or work of others that you consider do it right, and a modicum of modesty to perhaps show "well, this is what I DO think, but I'm open to admit there are other points of view out there".

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Just because we have an open box it doesn't mean we have to always just pop out every negative thought that we bear inside.

Because is there anything at all in the article that you didn't dismiss or that you found at least interesting or accurate or anything positive at all? If so, why not say that too, instead of only focusing on what YOU think it's bad?

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Dédéjr

well i did mention Robert doisneau......

No reason to be negative of course but no reason not to not to be so...

Anyone can look me up on dpreview no-one has to like my photos either, do not care, my ego can take rejection.

taylor swift sells millions of records but patsy cline she aint...

0 upvotes
Total comments: 42
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