Street photography is so exciting – the searching and waiting for just the right moment when a story unfolds in a single frame. I love the surprise and randomness of candid shots, but once in a while I will ask complete strangers if I can make a street portrait of them if I see something of possible interest. I’m not an ‘in your face’ street photographer. I have nothing against it. It’s a style that can yield some amazing shots, but It’s just not my style. I firmly believe that your photography style reflects your personality. Get inspired by the work of others but don’t try to copy them, define your own style instead.
One aspect of street photography that had always intimidated me was shooting people through the window of a cafe, store or even a bus. Yet, I’ve always admired those images captured by street photographer friends. They really capture a “window” into someone’s life. I don’t mean this as a voyeuristic thing – I respect people too much for that – but it can be a beautiful moment, with room left for the imagination to create a story.
Including signage in the frame provides a nice sense of place. Reflections are interesting, too, and are almost inevitable. Shoot at an angle to avoid being in the picture, unless your goal is to create an original self portrait. Window photography is also a good time to practice shooting from the hip. It take a while to get your framing right, so don’t set your expectations too high at first. There is no right or wrong way to do it – just be respectful of your subjects. And turn off your pop up flash!
Photographing people in embarrassing situations is inappropriate. I try to think how I would feel if captured that way. I prefer to photograph beautiful emotions, such as people enjoying each other’s company at a cafe or day dreaming. Again, what you photograph is a reflection of your personality. Trust your instinct. If you don’t feel good about capturing what might be a private moment, then don’t. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t!
The best way to grow one’s skill is to get out of your comfort zone. This is especially important if you find yourself in a creative rut or are losing the passion for your craft. If that sounds like you, then try something new, something that is a bit uncomfortable and you will grow in the process.
‘Window street photography’ worked for me that way. Now that I started doing it more often, I am more comfortable and see opportunities everywhere I go. My photo walks are more exciting and interesting. You know the feeling you get when you’ve captured something truly special? You never want to lose that thrill!
Note: Many of you will ask if you need special permission to photograph people on the streets. Every country is different, but in most places it’s perfectly acceptable to photograph people in a public place or in a place visible from the street such as through a cafe window. No model release form is necessary as long as you use the images for editorial purposes such as to illustrate an article or for fine art use only. Any commercial usage requires special model releases signed by everyone included in the frame. Be advised to check with your local authorities about their rules before photographing on the street.