Sometimes I think I’m an “Urban Soul”. The concrete jungles of the large cities of this world fascinate me. I love to feel a metropolis alive, pulsating. Here life presents itself in the raw and without make-up. When I’m out and about with my camera, I watch the human species in the habitat it has created with its own hands. Often enough it is ugly and yet still beautiful, sometimes bizarre and absurd – but always honest! Street photography freezes the moments of life and the human world in its authenticity. It is not artificial and totally without posing. Such a moment can tell a whole story. If I’m lucky I’ll capture it, but sometimes it is already over before I’ve reached for my camera. After all, the moment as such is a fleeting medium.
There is a type of basic honesty in street photography. The set isn’t styled and the people aren’t posing. I photograph what I see, because reality cannot be arranged or just quickly prettied up. My camera records life unadorned from a neutral distance, and yet in very fine detail. And sometimes it seems to me that the camera lens is almost like a merciless magnifying glass. The story told by these pictures later on -and their interpretation – in the end lie with the eye of the beholder.
Life is continual motion, which is also reflected in street photography. Settings like ‘unsharp’ or ‘motion blur’ can be great design options here. Whether it is used deliberately as an expressive element or whether it comes about quite by accident, the frozen motion conveys a sense of reality to the observer.
Sometimes I ask myself if we aren’t all somehow street photographers by now? Even if we are not out and about with our camera, we take our smart phone with us everywhere and are always ready to take a snap-shot. Our digital society captures every second of real life around the globe and shares the pictures – and thus also its stories. Although I am not in New York right at this moment as I am writing this article, if I wanted to, I could nevertheless watch life there. Instagram is full of it, isn’t it? I continue to be fascinated by this.
Finally, I would like to leave you with a few very personal tips for a street photography walk:
– Wear comfortable shoes (very important!) because you will be covering a lot of miles on foot!
-And how about considering a photo walk in your own city? This would be a perfect opportunity to discover some corner of your hometown that you don’t yet know.
-Think of your walk as a city safari. Keep your eyes open and sharpen your senses for the small details.
-Be attentive towards those things that everyone else just passes without another thought. Oftentimes, the small mysteries of life lie in the perfectly ordinary.
-Expect the unexpected! A millisecond can decide about the photo that captures the story.
-Forget about the lens cap, you don’t need it! Your camera should be on and ready to shoot at all times.
-A zoom lens comes in handy. I prefer a 18-200 mm focal distance, this enables me to be as flexible as possible and also to take photos from a distance.
-Be patient! If a photo scene is “about to happen”, it is worthwhile to stop and wait for the right moment.
-A wonderful book to inspire you is “Street Photography Now” by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren.
But the main thing is … have fun and stay curious!
Nic aka “Luzia Pimpinella” has been passionate about blogging since 2006. She loves traveling and good food. She is a freelance textile designer, compulsive do-it-yourself person, and keen photographer.