Street Photography in Winchester
Lesley is currently studying with me on the 12-month Personal Mentoring Plan and as part of her chosen curriculum, we went to Winchester yesterday to try a bit of street photography.
Winchester has a lot of character (and characters). The market makes it easy to find interesting shots and when the sun is out, the shafts of light between the old buildings can provide fascinating opportunities.
Street photography is booming. It’s a really popular part of photography these days.
Ever since Henri Cartier Bresson published his classic book “The Decisive Moment”, back in 1952, the idea of going out into the streets to document the daily goings-on of ordinary people has just got more and more popular. It’s a world-wide phenomenon which shows no sign of diminishing.
It’s strange really, because most photographers I know find it extremely challenging. Pointing your camera at a complete stranger can be nerve-wracking if you’ve never done it before. There’s always that fear that someone is going to react badly and you’ll be faced with a confrontational situation.
Not everyone wants their photo taken.
I have been shooting on the streets since the age of 14, and so I guess I’m quite used to it. Going out with someone who is doing it for the first time follows a predictable pattern. At first, they are a little bit terrified, but the more time we spend together, the easier it gets.
There are techniques, there are ways to photograph people that aren’t threatening and with a bit of practice, it’s not difficult to get shots right in amongst the action.
Beginners are usually afraid of getting too close, but once they learn how to work the scene, how to behave, how to conduct themselves, it doesn’t take long for confidence to grow.
Lesley had no experience of shooting like this before and by the time we had finished she was clearly far more confident and nothing was holding her back.
It’s not difficult to shoot in plain view of people, you just have to know how to do it. Some of the images below demonstrate how close we were when we took the shots.
All these photos were taken on a Fuji X-T3 with a 23mm prime lens. That’s equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera.
Street photography comes in many different guises and my personal preference is to look at how people interact with light and shadows.
I guess I am lucky to have grown up in a time when shooting in black & white film was the norm. It helps you to visualise scenes in terms of the contrast between light & shade and it can give you an edge to spotting really interesting subjects.
The light hitting the back of the woman’s leg in the shot below draws your eyes into the image. The harsh black shows provide a sharp contrast. Exposing for the highlights means you are under-exposing… and the blacks become even blacker.
Low angles often provide a viewpoint that would otherwise go unnoticed and deliberately chopping off the upper body of people passing by, focuses the eyes on everything else.
In these two pictures below, the pigeon suddenly finds itself being given equal status to the man in front and the silhouetted push-chair becomes more important than the mother pushing it.
Street photography can be an exciting way to take photos, and going out in pairs makes it much easier. If you do it with someone else, it really helps with the confidence.
Yesterday’s session started in the usual way (over coffee). This gave us a chance to chat over how the session would run and put some basic some basic ground rules in place.
I kinda threw Lesley in at the deep end. I took a couple of shots first, to demonstrate some principles and then handed the street over to her.
We both love reflection shots and the one below shows both of us shooting into a shoe shop window.
Watching people, characters, working with light, shade, reflections and patterns we covered a lot of ground as she took it all head on without flinching.
She definitely wins her blue Peter badge!
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