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Tips & Tricks

How To Take Pictures Of Strangers | Street Photography Tips

By Brittany Smith on January 19th 2018

Most of what we do as photographers on a day to day basis is very well thought-out and exudes a fair amount of control. Perhaps that is why many turn to street photography as an alter ego and find the spontaneity of it so exhilarating. Relinquishing the reigns and becoming very attune to the environment is an organic experience and is necessary to capture those candid moments.

Street photography is essentially stealing a moment in time and requires one to act fast in order to document their observations. In the beginning it can be nerve racking even for the most seasoned pros to step outside of their comfort zone and do whatever is necessary to catch those fleeting moments on camera. The folks at Mango Street have teamed up with Chicago photographer Eric Floberg to share some of his tips for successful street photography.

Eric’s tips for successful street photography

  1. Don’t be afraid: be bold & complimentary.
  2. Shoot at a higher aperture for faster-paced shooting.
  3. Try framing up your shot and wait for your subject to walk right into frame.
  4. Look for subjects that match or interact with their environment.
  5. Don’t care about what anyone thinks of you.

Gear Used

Holdfast Gear Moneymaker Two-Camera Harness

Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 35mm F/1.4L II USM Lens

Leica M6

Zeiss 35mm F/2 ZM Lens

There will be times when a person may be so interesting in their surrounding environment that you will feel compelled to take their portrait. Have an idea of what you want it to look like: will there be a lot of bokeh or a higher aperture for more of an environment shot? Then ask them if you can take their portrait and try not to pose them to keep the authenticity of the moment and be sure to thank them for their time.

[REWIND: Jessica Kobeissi On Taking Portraits Of Strangers | Could You Give Your Skills Away For Free?]

One thing to keep in mind is the intended purpose of your street photography and whether or not it will be used for commercial use. The general rule is that anyone and anything is fair game, however, a model release will be required for commercial use if there are any recognizable or discernible faces in the image. I may also advise checking the city laws for any other caveats that you may encounter.

Street photography requires a fair amount of patience and swiftness to get the shot. Check out the following video of Eric Fosberg hitting the streets of Chicago in stealth mode as it is a great example of how to approach the subject. You can check out Eric’s Instagram here as well as subscribe to Mango Street’s YouTube Channel for more content.

Brittany is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA. She photographs the way she has always wanted to feel and believes in the power of raw simplicity. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local coffeeshop, teaching fitness classes at the YMCA, or baking something fabulous in the kitchen.
Instagram: @brittanysmithphoto

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