Street photography. Hip, urban, in, challenging and much more comes to my mind. Street photography is done everywhere, by nearly everyone, every time.
When you are pacing the streets with your choice of camera equipment each honking horn tells you that shooting in the street is a real challenge. Chewing gum, rotten fruits or vegetables, red spit and other nasty things under your shoes, the smells of the street and the wet market smells of animals, fruits and herbs are mingling and wafting up to hit you in the nose. Behind every corner here in Hanoi you can come up with something different.
Street photography is kind of a harsh name for a beautiful pursuit. If you would be a painter you would come with an empty canvas and start to fill it to your liking. As a street photographer you have to have the ability to tame the chaos in front of you. To frame the cacophony of contemporary life all around you. To capture what it means to be alive, what it means to you, what you want to show your audience.
Street photography is more than a shooting just in the street; it is a way of seeing, a way of experiencing life. Street photography can be part of fashion, sport, documentary and whatever you like it to be. At its very essence street photography is capturing life without interrupting it. If you are out in the right mood doing your style of street photography you are witnessing and capturing moments in history. May be this once-in-a-lifetime moments are just interesting to you, but as scenes are unfolding in front of you you might feel a significance for others as well. It is a pursuit of real life, of photography without asking permission front up.
So this side of street photography can be scary. It can hinder shy photographers to pursuit their dream.
If you study street photography from old masters to present day photographers you will find some important elements that make this street photographer successful.
There are certainly a lot of things to consider but let's just stick to these following:
• Controlling composition in an ever changing environment
• Controlling your fear
• Controlling the visual clutter you can capture in pointing your camera and pressing the shutter
On the street, you just have a backdrop full of things and action, at least most of the time. The light might change faster than you like. The fancy and colourful environment is your backdrop and you have to figure out how to frame your subjects within this given space. This means paying attention to light, background, buildings, negative space, contrast and on and on in a fraction of a second before the moment is gone.
Street photography can be terrifying. That's why I practice it every day. Pushing yourself outside the boundaries of comfort, using different lenses, different gear helps me a lot. Photograph in the streets of Hanoi and in South East Asia helps a lot as people are more open than in Europe for example. The laws aren't as strict as in Germany for example. Don't let your inner voice say stop. Just do it and go beyond your borders .
Try to get images for a theme helps. At least in my humble opinion. Try to figure out how to show something coherent . In this way all your images won't be just random snapshots or a collection that speaks to no one.