Street Photography Overseas

Street photographers need to be prepared to take their shot because their subject is unpredictable and fleeting. It is impractical for them to carry a full set of photo equipment; a DSLR and a good quality, medium wide-angle to telephoto zoom lens usually suffices. More recently compact system cameras have become popular with street photographers. They offer a reasonable balance between image quality and portability. Compact system controls are a little different so get to know them before your trip.

Most street photographs illustrate an element of human behaviour within an urban environment, so in some ways it's similar to wildlife photography. Strong composition separates the good street photograph from an average shot. The urban architecture is an important aspect of the photo. Many photographers select the location for their shot, and they then wait for the perfect subject to walk into it. The variety of urban light sources will produce colour casts, so prepare beforehand by looking at how you can adjust your camera's white balance settings.

Ideally you want to be familiar with your locations, and this takes time. So don't move on too quickly. You will discover some naturally photogenic locations where opportunities present themselves e.g. parks, outdoor cafes, meeting places. Beginners will probably get the best results by ensuring reasonable sharpness throughout the frame, later on you can experiment with varying your depth of field. You might also be tempted to use fill in flash in high contrast situations, but keep in mind most street photographers prefer to remain as invisible as possible.

To start with, pick a number of likely venues which are fairly close to each other. Decide which time of day would be best for you to visit, perhaps to coincide with planned events. Find vantage points which will produce interesting compositions and allow you to shoot without being too conspicuous. Revisit on a regular basis, and get to the point where you are waiting for the missing ingredient, and then capture it when it appears. Look for compositional elements which offer an original perspective on contemporary fashions and behaviours. It takes just a little experience before you can decide whether to persevere in your chosen spot, or move on to a new location.