Instagram, for all the failings the miserable like to point out, has highlighted two things about our realm: That street photography is huge, and that the talent pool runs deep. When we consider things like the urban explorer photographer movement and the proliferation of photographers who are literally professional (earning) photographers focused solely on Instagram, these two things become obvious.
Why is street/urban photography so popular? Well, we are fascinated with the world around us and other people, and typically you don’t need a lot of gear to get started with it. Actually, you don’t need more than your phone these days to create compelling street photography. Haters and pixel peepers in the back can put your hands down because perfect technical execution does not a good image make, and we know this by now.
But in a market so popular, you’ll probably need to get better to get noticed, and having a few little tips and tricks to assist you can make a profound difference. Photographer Jim Harmer of ImprovePhotography has been recently shooting and teaching in Chicago. He has created a video divulging a number of tips for urban shooting, all in about 6 minutes, and you’re likely to find even one that makes the time watching, time well spent.
From the onset, his tips on shooting light trails in an urban environment were intriguing, as he discusses why it has advantageous to shoot a higher ISO vs. a longer shutter speed to get brighter trails. You’ll learn when and why to take advantage of Photoshop’s ability to stack images and essentially remove anything that has moved within the stacked images, which is great, for example, for ‘removing’ people from crowded public landmarks. You’ll also learn how and why to make a monopod into an inexpensive but effective lightstick, and more.
You’ll notice that most of the lighting is either natural light or using a small umbrella like this one, or a small softbox like the Westcott Rapidbox….with a speed light that could be anything from an SB700 to Canon 430EX . Also, there are a lot of DSLRs in the mix, like the typical 5D MKIII, which is understandable for the types of shooting being done here, and that the environment was one of a class. It’s worth mentioning, however, a lot of urban shooters I know and know of are totally for small fixed focal length or rangefinder cameras like the X100T, or Fuji X-E2 (which I love and can be had for cheap – see review here), or even small mirrorless interchangeable lens systems like the Sony A7. You can make the most of these tips with such small cameras.
Granted, I know of a growing number of urban shooters who are just in love with the D750 for urban shooting given its wide dynamic range and articulating screen, and that its body is more akin in size to a crop sensor DSLR than something hefty like a D810. If you want to see our review of the D750 you can do so here.
You can also check out more from Jim on ImprovePhotography.com.