Why The Camera Doesn't (Always) Matter In Street Photography

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.

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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.

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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.

What Is Art?

The other day, a colleague of mine asked me what I think is art.

I told him, that for me, art is my way to expresss my vision (in photography) and my inner soul. Then I started thinking and these are some of my thoughts about art.

Art (photography, painting, writing, theater etc.) can trigger emotions in the viewers mind.

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For example, a couple of weeks ago I met another photographer and we talked about photography in general. He told me, that he also wants to start with street photography. I eventually showed him a picture I had taken in Berlin and he was impressed. Sometime later, he posted a pretty similar shot on Instagram. Therefore, I think, that my picture inspired him in some way.

Another thing to consider is how your own art (e.g. photographs) makes you feel. Do you feel joy looking at them, anger or nostalgia?

I started in photography after my daughter was born in 2013. Like every new father, I wanted to have good photos of her. So I started taking mostly close-up portraits of her and my family and friends. More and more, I wanted to tell stories with my pictures, so that it would be easier to see when and under which circumstances the picture was taken. As a conclusion, I feel joy and sometimes nostalgia looking at my pictures.

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What art do you make? Why do you make art?

In an earlier post in this blog ("What Is Good Street Photography"), I stated, that anyone should just go out and shoot what makes one happy. It doesn't matter what others think about your pictures. Most importantly, YOU have to be happy with your art! Be authentic and don't giva a shit about others.

A Day At The Museum

I like museums. They are places for improving one's mind.

When I lack inspiration in photography, I usually like to look in one of my street photography books such as "The Decisive Moment" by Henri Cartier Bresson or the "Magnum Contact Sheets". However, the coolest thing is if a museum close-by exhibits photographs. You simply cannot compare a small print to a large scale museum print. There's something magical to it. The whole atmosphere, the clean architecture, the lights and also other museum visitors.

What are you doing when you lack inspiration? 

Here are some shots I took recently watching museum visitors. Enjoy.

An Afternoon With Paolina

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!

What Is Good Street Photography

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.