Is street photography in Germany legal or illegal? Has digital photography brought an end to street photography as an art form in Germany? In this blog post I describe how to adapt to the legal situation in Germany and moreover, how to behave as a street photographer.Read More
When you're new to street photography, one of the biggest obstacles might be finding a suitable subject or scene to photograph. In this blog post, I explain one way how I overcome this hurdle.Read More
This blog post is not a camera review per se; moreover, it is a summary of experiences I made with the FujiFilm X100F over the last couple of months. It covers how I feel about this camera and most importantly, whom I can recommend this camera.Read More
Have you ever taken a self-portrait?
I am not talking about these typical smartphone selfies everyone seems to be taking these days.
I am talking about a real self-portrait, where you take your time and take care of the scene and light. A cool thing is, that you can shoot self-portraits pretty much everywhere and you don't have to look for models as you're photographing yourself.
I don't know about you, but I never really felt comfortable in front of a camera (I know, this sounds hilarious from the mouth of a photographer). Also, there are only very few photos of myself as I am usually the one behind the camera. Yesterday, I thought it's time to shoot some self-portraits.
I grabbed my X100F and attached my teleconverter lens (TCL X100) onto it in order to shoot with a portrait focal length of 50 mm. Furthermore, I mounted my camera onto a very bad mini tripod and used my smartphone as remote control. Not the best setup in the world, but for me, it worked quite well.
As a conclusion, I have to admit, that in the beginning it felt quite awkward to shoot myself. I mean, I didn't know at all how to look into the camera and what gesture to make. Also, focussing with the Fuji smartphone app was very difficult. But after a while, I had some fun and the uncomfortable feeling in front if the camera somehow vanished.
I love silhouettes. They are one of my favorite ways to capture the life on the streets.
Wikipedia describes a silhouette as a "view at an object or scene as a solid shape". Furthermore, silhouettes are usually black. The shape of a silhouette "depicts the outline of an object, while the interior is featureless". Sounds easy right?!
For me, a silhouette adds a mystery to a scene. Basically, if the protagonist of the scene is captured as a silhouette, he or she becomes interchangeable. The viewer of the picture can easily build up his own story. On the other hand, if you live in a country like Germany, where a strong privacy law prohibits taking pictures of identifiable people in the public, silhouettes are a prefect way to shoot the streets and to be in consent with the law.
In this blog post I want to share how I capture silhouettes. Let's have a look at two easy technical approaches. The most important thing for both approaches is that you know how to take control of your camera and have a look for the background, it should not be too busy.
One way to capture silhouettes is exposing for highlights. Your camera must be capable of spot-metering. Exposing for the highlights in the background leads to a "bad exposure" of your subject in the foreground, your later silhouette. Below you find two photos, in the left one, I exposed for my subject in the foreground, so there is no silhouette; on the other hand, in the right photo, I exposed for the highlights in the background, this created the silhouette.
Below, you'll find another example for the abovementioned "exposing-method".
Another easy way to create silhouettes is the use a relatively long shutter speed (e.g. 1/30th of a second) in order to use motion blur of moving subjects. For this approach, you have to spot the scene first; in other words, you have to find a suitable stage for your subject. As the blurred subject will most probably be dark, it will be an advantage, if the background is relatively bright so that the dark silhouette can stand out.
For below picture, I spotted the scene first, I figured that I wanted to have a blurred person in the left, brighter part of the frame. I chose a long shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, crouched and waited for as suitable person to enter the stage (note: with long shutter speeds you must have a steady hand, otherwise you blur the whole frame).
In my opinion, silhouettes are great to add a mystery to your images. There are more ways to capture silhouettes- what's your favorite method? -feel free to share it.
In the end, don't focus too much on the technical aspects. Just use a method which you feel comfortable with. Have fun shooting!
This is Vanessa, a close friend of Paolina.
For this shooting, Vanessa, Paolina and me met up, chatted, drank some beer and listened to music. Incidentally I took my shots of Vanessa.
Thank you Vanessa and Paolina for this great experience!
If you want to shoot street photography, all you need is a camera. Any camera. My suggestion is to have an inconspicuous small camera, a smartphone , a compact camera or a mirrorless camera. You can even use a film camera or a bulky DSLR. It really doesn't matter as long as your camera has a shutter button.
However, there is a saying, that the best camera is the one that's with you. So if you think about that, the one camera, that you always carry with you, obviously is your smartphone. The big advantages of smartphones are that they fit in your front pocket and are not obtrusive due to the fact, that everybody out there uses a smartphone camera in the public.
Personally, my go-to street photography camera is my FujiFilm X100T. It is a small mirrorless camera. But it is definitely not inconspicuous. People notice it as soon as I bring the camera to my eye. However, the biggest advantage of the X100T is its portability, sure, it will not fit in my front pocket but I can put it in my jacket pocket. Also the shutter is super silent. I never had anyone taking notice of the shutter sound of my X100T. When you're shooting with a DSLR people will most probably take notice of the shutter, you have to take this into account and consider shooting with an electronic shutter, if available.
Another thing is that most cameras nowadays are capable of shooting high ISO (when it is getting dark, high ISO values are necessary to keep the shutter speed at acceptable values), ten years ago ISO 640 was luxury. Nowadays ISO 6400 is no problem at all.
Maybe smartphones are somehow limited with their ISO capabilities; on the other hand, you can use this disadvantage and adjust your shooting to this drawback.
When it comes to autofocus, just forget about it. It's one of the most overrated topics in photography. Some brands advertise their cameras with being able to shoot 11 pictures per second with autofocus. All this stuff is not needed in street photography. The autofocus of my X100T is not the fastest in the world, it is rather slow. The workaround is to focus manually- or even better, use the zone-focusing technique (if you're not aware about this, check out this link). Zone-focussing basically transforms your camera into a point and shoot; hence, you can focus on composition instead.
What about bokeh?
In the picture above, you can see what bokeh looks like (it is the blurred background in the out-of-focus part of the image), I focussed closely to the ground and therefore the overall part of the picture is out of focus.
I tell you right away, it is not essential. When I started with photography, I thought bokeh is the most important thing and this effect "makes" better pictures. After three years, I came to the conclusion that bokeh makes you lazy in terms of composition. If the main subject is isolated, you lose the ability to tell a story with your picture due to lack of surroundings. More importantly, you have to pay way more for your lens to get a decent bokeh. In the picture above, I stopped my lens down to f2.8, as you can see, even at f2.8 you can produce a nice looking bokeh if you need to.
Does size really matter?
Yes, it does in street photography. As I stated above, the best camera is the one that's always with you. The bigger the camera, the less you take it with you. Also, consider that a bigger camera makes you a whole lot more conspicuous. As a street photographer you should blend into the background like a stealthy ninja.
If you're like me and hate carrying around a heavy camera, look out for a tiny point and shoot or just stick with your smartphone.
So does your camera matter in street photography?
Even though smaller cameras are less conspicuous in street photography, you can basically shoot with whatever you have. The most important thing is, that you feel comfortable using your camera.
If you plan to buy a new camera- only do it if your current camera really limits your creativity. Just be aware that a new or better camera doesn't make you a better photographer. I can speak from experience.
I hope this blog post could inspire you to just start street photography with whatever camera you own at the moment.
PS: two of the images in this post were shot with my smartphone.
I met Paolina in the crèche my daughter Madita visited. She got along perfectly with Madita and eventually became a friend of our family.
Some day, I asked her for a portrait shooting and she said yes. These are some pictures I made with her in her apartment.
Thank you Paolina!
A couple of days ago, I read the article "Is Street Photography Killing Itself". This article was written by someone who talks about what's shitty about street photography and that social media is flooded with bad street photos. He didn't even offer his own work/vision.
In my opinion, anyone should just go out and shoot what makes YOU happy! There is no definition of good or bad as long if you're happy with what you're doing.
Here are some shitty street photographs I took recently. Enjoy.