How to Photograph Strangers | Street Photography Tips

Hey what’s going on everybody welcome back to the channel and in today’s video we’re gonna have a street photography tutorial but more specifically on how to photograph strangers street photography is an incredibly wide vast genre of the art form there are so many ways to do street and there’s not one right answer on how to go about documenting the streets whether it’s like epic explorative adventure type photos in the city incorporating a lot of architectural pieces or it could be very candid and chaotic like photographing strangers in a park and this is the segment of the art form that i’m going to be talking about today i recently came back from a trip from new york city and it was an incredible four-day experience on the east coast this is my first time as an adult exploring new york city.

The actual first time i was in new york city was when i was 12 so that doesn’t really count and one of my main goals during that trip was to document the streets that i’ve seen so much online with my experience in this segment of street photography i’m going to share with you guys what i’ve learned so far and here are five tips on how you can photograph strangers on the streets tip number one is to only pick one camera and one lens the reason being is that the street scene is going to be very unforgiving moments can last just like that and if you’re fiddling with your settings fiddling with which lens that you want to pick or which camera body you want to whip out you’re going to miss every single moment so having less is definitely more in this segment of street photography i personally like shooting on film because there’s a lot less things.

I have to worry about for example when i load in my film stock the iso is locked into the film so when i’m blowing up porsche 400 i’m only shooting at 400 iso same for porsche 800 800 iso then i have to adjust my settings to that and then when i’m in broad daylight when i’m in overcast or in the shade i know that there’s only one setting that’ll like be appropriate for each i guess lighting scenario so there’s less things to worry about as well plus i can’t review my images so i can’t be overthinking about what i’m shooting plus i have to be a little bit more selective as well so less thinking more moving i also like shooting on the 35 millimeter focal length because for me i don’t really like to get too close and personal like some street photographers are when they use a 28 millimeter.

But i’m also not as shy as i was back then and if i was more shy than a 50 millimeter would be great because i could stand a little bit more at a distance and still capture the scene that i want to capture so no really know yourself be self-aware about what kind of camera is most comfortable with you that you don’t have to fidget with the settings and same for the focal length are you a really shy person maybe use a 50 millimeter or 85 are you like a really brave ballsy person then use a 28 or 35 so know yourself and only pick the settings and the cameras that will make you think less and make you move more tip number two is to post up at a location and to be patient let’s talk about this photo right here when i was walking to the subway i saw this like gigantic calvin klein ad with the dudes sprawled out just like that and i was thinking like wouldn’t it be awesome to have a really grumpy old looking white dude walk into frame where his head is like right in front of the crotch and then lo and behold.

I waited long enough and that guy popped right into the frame and it was perfect it was absolutely what i wanted because it was funny it’s a little bit of like a play on of like whatever you want to think another example is that i posted up at washington square park which is a very popular place for street photography and also just hanging out as a local the fountain area is an easy target for a lot of like interaction with the environment and i just walked around sometimes stood in one place for five to ten minutes and waited for something to happen or waited for someone to really walk into like this composition that i was setting up so wherever you choose to photograph wherever you choose to walk around or post up try to make some composition set up and know the lighting scenario maybe know the settings that are appropriate for that and just wait for things to happen because the streets are always moving wherever you are it could be a very slow neighborhood or very fast neighborhood.

But just know that once that moment comes and the stars align you can pop that shot and your patience and your diligence will pay off for a very lovely image tip number three is to pay attention to how these people are interacting with you and the environment this is one of my favorite parts and maybe the main reason as to why i really like photographing strangers in the street is because i love documenting honest candid human behavior out there in the wild it’s so interesting to see how people interact with their hands interact with other people and also like just weird interesting things that some people feel comfortable doing in public and it’s also a nice challenge for myself to be on high alert to watch for these honest human behaviors because most of my work is portrait work where i can pose the person manipulate the background or just like compose however way i want the image to look but for the streets in this segment i can’t do any of that and it’s awesome to not be in control.

But to really just be there in the moment be a fly on the wall and to see how i can tell a better story yes we’ve all seen some crazy things happen in our respective neighborhoods but can you tell a better story by incorporating maybe the landscape behind it or more people in the foreground and the background to juxtapose the the craziness or the uniqueness of the behavior uh with someone who is more calm and normal i guess like how can you tell a better story with the focal length the setup and the environment this is the awesome part of photographing strangers if they make eye contact with your photo even more bonus point because that shows kind of like an emotional connection or some kind of establishment between you the photographer and the subject but also the photograph and the viewer tip number four is to shoot at a smaller aperture for greater depth of field.

Now i know a lot of us in our portrait work like to shoot at f 1.4 or f2 or maybe at f 2.8 but for the streets i highly recommend shooting greater than 4 5.6 f f8 is a really nice sweet spot because you still kind of get some like that depth of field blur but you’ll get a lot of things in focus the reason why i say this is because if you’re using an autofocus camera uh when you you know whip up your camera for like a very quick moment that you witness if you’re at f 1.4 your camera will struggle to autofocus and snap to your subject so having a greater depth of field will have a better effect and also like a better utility on focusing on the subject plus capturing other contacts as well you don’t want everything to be blurred out sometimes you want more context to tell that story of the streets if you shoot on manual focus lenses more often than not they’ll give you something called zone markings and if you look on your lens there’s going to be these little diagonal lines with like different numbers underneath it like 4 8 16 11 stuff like that and it’ll show you actually what your zone is for each aperture sephora f8 for my 35 millimeter lens.

I can get everything in focus from 3 to 5 feet or 5 to 10 feet depending on like what the the zone is so that’s a super cool thing i’ll make a tutorial on that so i won’t go too much into detail but that’s something that you should know tip number five is a very behavioral piece of advice and that is to pay attention to your appearance and your demeanor people nowadays are very aware of what kind of people are around them they could spot a photographer from a block down because everybody knows what a camera looks like everybody’s paying attention to what is in a stranger’s hand so if they see you holding this they know that you’re a photographer and if your finger is already on the shutter and your finger is already under the lens they’re going to think that you’re going to be taking a photo so don’t walk around the streets like you’re hiding your intention you could be open you could be a little bit more friendly and smile at people maybe pull down your mouse for just one second smile and wave and then take a photo of them you can even talk to them that could disarm them as well don’t look.

So sus out there like you’re up to no good and that you’re like going to hurt somebody also if you don’t want to be noticed in the crowd then don’t dress too out of the ordinary from the environment that you’re going to be photographing in for myself i like to shoot in san francisco chinatown and there was this one instance where i dressed a little bit too fashionable i guess where i wore like bright clothing and like people saw me like okay this guy is like obviously not from here and even though i am chinese they’re like no he’s he’s not here to chill and this is just a bonus tip you definitely don’t have to do this but if you have a gopro or have the means to buy a gopro mount it on your chest or mount it on your camera hot shoe so that you can document your entire experience not necessarily for youtube although you can post it on youtube and people like watching that stuff.

I posted two videos of my new york street photography experience and you could click it up there but this is also a way for you to learn from your past experiences there’s nothing more educational than watching your behavioral patterns from an actual playback like seeing all the shots that you missed see how awkwardly you moved see how quick or too slow you were to that certain spot whatever it is you can learn from the tapes and from the playbacks and you could be better the next time you go out to shoot so that’s all i have for you guys in this video thank you guys so much for watching i hope you learned a thing or two about photographing strangers in the streets it’s a very daunting task i’ll be making more videos about this as i get better myself but hope you guys uh have fun shooting the streets and you know learning a little bit um about that segment of photography make sure you like the post subscribe leave a comment down below and i will see you guys in the next one peace.