STREET PHOTOGRAPHY: SHOOTING FROM THE HIP

As a street photographer, bliss is when I capture the right moment. Sometimes a shot feels right, but I must be content to savor the anticipation until I confirm it on my monitor.

In street photography one must be ready for the “moment” shot or the “context” shot. The moment shot usually is a scene taken in an instant – no setup, little framing. You are capturing the spontaneous, the instant which tells a story on its own. But sometimes I will come up on a scene with all my check boxes ticked. The surroundings are part of the story, the composition is there, it is organic and there is a captivating person in the story. People are at the heart of street photography, so I try to work in both modes and flow with the situation. 

Photographing people can be tricky; some people are camera shy and others love the attention. As you try to figure it out you may lose the moment or lose spontaneity. A street photographer cannot be shy – and those that know me would not call me shy. If you want spontaneous, candid shots often you must shoot and ask later.

In an urban environment, when I observe a captivating subject, I use a mixed approach. First, I remain discrete and take a quick series of spontaneous photos. But often I want more. At this point I will ask for the shot. I approach and ask the subject for a photo. This is when it gets tricky because inevitably after the subject agrees that is ok to take their photograph, they get very self-conscious (which is natural). Between their tension and awkwardness, I must work fast and use my magic to make them feel special. I must create an environment which helps them return to normal. I am not going to pose them. I must work on disappearing and making sure the subject is not focused on the camera. I begin to choreograph the photo in my lens, moving and viewing all at the same time, holding the camera in front of me so I can see the entire scene. Some call it shooting from the hip. Believe me, it takes practice.

I want the most natural shot possible. So, I move away from my subject and give them their space and they can breathe and go about their business. I try to disappear and capture the moment of my subject. All the while I pay attention to them by talking to them about my interest in their work or activity, and as I reassure them it becomes easier for them. Within minutes they are relaxed, and I am shooting as they go about their day.

I hope this will give you some insight into my background, my experiences and my thoughts on fine art photography. I hope this will help me better connect with my audience and my potential clients. Will be great to hear your comments.

Raye