What is street photography to me

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Edinburgh street photography practice

Street photography is hip recently, especially on TikTok. According to Mr. Samuel Streetlife, there are many photographers on TikTok showing their videos on how they invited strangers to be their models and helped them shoot nice-looking portrait photos. To me, that’s not street photography but portrait photography instead.

I agree with Samuel that street photography is a form of photography for capturing candid and unposed photographs of everyday life in public places. The word candid is the most important keyword that makes street photography so unique to other form of photography. The aim of candidness is to capture the essence of a moment, often without the subject being aware of the photographer’s presence so that it is able to tell a story or convey a message about the specific condition or social issues through the use of images.

One of the key approaches to capturing candidness for most successful street photographers is to use wide angle lens such as 28mm or 35mm and to be close to the subjects when capturing them so as to create an in-the-moment feel to the pictures. According to ChatGPT, some of the key elements for a success street photograph include:

  1. Capturing a moment: Street photography is all about capturing a fleeting moment in time that tells a story or conveys an emotion. A successful street photograph should capture a moment that is interesting, unusual, or thought-provoking.
  2. Composition: A strong composition is essential for a successful street photograph. The photographer should pay attention to the placement of elements within the frame, such as the position of the subject, the use of lines and shapes, and the balance of negative space.
  3. Lighting: Lighting can make or break a street photograph. The use of natural light or artificial light can create different moods and add depth and dimension to the image.
  4. Perspective: The photographer’s perspective can add interest and uniqueness to a street photograph. This can include the use of different angles, such as shooting from above or below, or using reflections and shadows to add depth.
  5. Storytelling: A successful street photograph should tell a story or convey an emotion. The photographer should aim to capture a moment that evokes a feeling or creates a connection with the viewer.
  6. Timing: Timing is crucial in street photography. The photographer must be patient and aware of their surroundings, ready to capture a moment as it unfolds.

Overall, a successful street photograph should be compelling, visually interesting, and convey a sense of emotion or storytelling.

As an amateur photographer, I really like this type of photography as an art form. However, I’m not bold enough to hold a camera with 28mm or 35mm lens in front of the subjects. Therefore, I started practicing with my small Fujifilm XF10 which comes with a silent leaf shutter to make myself invisible to the subjects. Also, instead of raising my camera up to my eye level, I choose to shoot from the hip or the chest most of the time. Here’s a video of my practice with the XF10 using these approaches: