This week Yuri and I discussed Street portraits, an interesting sub genre/of shoot of street photography as well as trying out a new service for these Streetchats, Google hangouts on air.
In the video we discussed
How often we take street portraits with permission vs without
In general, we both take street portraits less than candid photos (we guesstimated about 95% of our photos are without permission). However, we found that street portraits produced very different styles.
I commented that I use street portraits to help me overcome the fear of candid shots, Yuri commented that he found street portraits could be more intimidating than candid images.
Interacting with a subject is very important
We both commented that learning to interact well with someone helps to bring out better photos, even more so than with normal street photography. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable, it will show. You need to work on your social skills.
The importance of working the scene
We both mentioned how street portraits can really help you work the scene. If you have someone’s permission, they aren’t about to run off. You can shoot them lots and try different angles, settings and styles. You can even ask them to move location. I mentioned that I try to take 50% more photos than I feel I should. Yuri pointed out that you increase your chances of getting “the shot” when you shoot more, so mine it for opportunities.
One of the key factors in street portraits are backgrounds and you have to keep and eye out for them. I shared a story of when I got it just wrong asking someone to move to a bad background (you have to watch to hear that one)
What impact gear can have
Yuri mentioned how having a big DSLR can intimidate people when you take their picture, whereas a small compact feels less like you are going to exploit someone. I mentioned how using wide angle lenses can be great for getting the environment in, but can require you to get really close to fill the frame. That can be intimidating too.
How to help pose someone more naturally
We had a few ideas of how to help people pose more naturally including
- suggest they don’t smile
- have prepared questions you can use
- ask them what their happiest moment was
- look out for gestures
- mention a detail of someone that you like, draw their attention to it
- study good poses and think what will help
I choose Brandon Stanton, the man behind Humans of New York. His work has grown over the years and it’s a real testament to the power of sharing stories through photography.
Yuri selected Vitkor Bezrukov, a photographer based in Tel Aviv in Israel. His work crosses many boarders including street photography and portraits.
We also recommend checking out the last #MondayMaster Paul Strand who took many candid and non candid street portraits.
Street challenge: 5 yeses and 5 nos
This week’s challenge is to go out and get five people to agree to have their street portrait taken, but also get 5 people to say no to having their portrait taken. That way you embrace rejection and actually go out and seek it. Share your favourite (up to 3) photos on the Facebook page.