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I am by no means an expert but I know a thing or two about photography. I make a living as a photographer and I work on personal projects all the time. I could not stress enough the importance of personal projects, photo walks, hanging out with other photographers and sharing your work, etc… But this was the subject of another recent article.
Photographers have different visions. Some of us are more interested in details while others have wide angle vision. I am definitely in the first category. I am much more interested in details, I rarely shoot an entire building but I concentrate on details such as door knobs, peeling paint, textures, etc.
No matter what your style is, when you are out on a photo walk, there will be ‘triggers’ around you that will stir an emotion and prompt you to click the shutter.
The most common ‘trigger’ will be the light falling on an object or a scene. It will catch your eye and you’ll want to capture it with your camera. More often than not the result will be disappointing because your camera will not always be able to render the scene the way your eyes experience it. The moment is often so fleeting that you won’t have time to make the necessary adjustments to get the best picture possible. That’s okay, keep trying. Sometimes the best shot are the so called ‘dumb luck’ shots. Don’t spend too much time fumbling with your gear, just shoot!
Colors are another common trigger. Your eye will be drawn to contrasting colors. A person in a bright outfit, a red door, rust on a surface. Follow your eye, take your time to absorb the scene, move to shoot it from different angles.
Lines and patterns are another obvious draw in photography. I see them all the time. It can be a roadway, railroad tracks, a power line, a set of stairs or a simple railing. Lines and repeating patterns will draw your attention and can make interesting images.
People! When I am out in the streets shooting, my favorite subjects are everyday people. Be patient and observe the world around you. There are at least two different approaches to people photography: the candids and the street portraits. Combine both and you tell a story. I used to only shoot from a distance with the telephoto lens and I love those images. Find a great location. A street corner with some interesting backdrop (it can be a colorful wall, an amusing billboard, a spot with some interesting lighting, etc) and just wait for the scene to take place. If you are patient enough you will go home with a treasure!
I recently started interacting with people in the streets and asking them if I could take their picture, it’s very intimidating but also addicting. Yes, you will get some rejections but a smile can go a long way. Be honest, people like a compliment and most don’t mind having their picture taken. Be friendly and respectful: “Cool outfit, I love it! Would you mind if I took your picture?” Show them the resulting image on the back of your camera, offer a business card, they may want a copy later. I know I would! Street performers are also great subjects to photograph and they usually love the attention, don’t be shy!
Reflections are another one of my favorite things to look for when out on a photo walk in an urban environment. I love shooting contrasting architectures or elements such as an old buildings or trees reflecting in a modern glass structure.
Collections of things are great to look for and photograph. They are really easy to find at markets. Items that are stacked, fruits and vegetable displayed in neat rows can make great subject!
The list could go on and on and I would love to hear about the things you look for when out on a city photo walk. One thing to remember: Just get out and shoot! One camera, one lens and HAVE FUN!