Did you know that beginner – and even advanced! – street photographers tend to make some recurring mistakes?
It’s true. Over the past few years, I’ve worked with a lot of street shooters, and I’ve seen them mess up the exact same way over and over again.
Most errors are very easy to correct. But to fix them, you need to know how to acknowledge them, that’s where this article comes in handy.
So to find out the seven most common mistakes in street photography (and how to fix them), read on!
When you’re new to street photography, it’s easy to spend too much time thought and not enough time react and filming.
I get it: street photography is difficult. There’s a lot to consider, and a lot goes into every picture. You might start worrying about the results – will my photos turn out well? Will they be good enough?
But when you go out with your camera, try not to think too much. The more you overthink it, the less prepared you will be to get great shots when an amazing opportunity comes along.
So instead of worrying about perfection, lose yourself in the process. You can evaluate your results during the editing phase. When taking street photos, have fun. Explore, take your time, relax and watch it all go by.
In my experience, street photography should be appreciated if you want to do it. The more fun you have being there, getting lost and exploring, the better your pictures will be!
2. Traveling too heavy
If you look online you can find great videos of the old masters shooting in the streets. Do you know the common thread?
They used small portable cameras and small prime lenses.
Now, you can certainly shoot the street with a DSLR or a full-frame mirrorless camera, and you can do just that. There are top photographers who work this way, and they get incredible results – but before you commit to such an approach, ask yourself: Do I really want to carry around a huge camera and lens? daily ? Such a configuration can become uncomfortable, and it will also very visible.
There are plenty of benefits to using a smaller camera for your street shots: you’ll likely have more fun, go unnoticed, and have less to worry about security and theft. A small Fuji or Ricoh camera will do wonders, and you can get an old used version for a lot less than a new model.
Likewise, you probably have don’t need a big bag of lenses and filters. If you haven’t tried shooting with just one good street photography lens, do so immediately; Going with a small camera body and a small main lens is incredibly liberating. Yes, you’ll miss that 200mm magnified shot of distant buildings, but you’ll come back with so many great shots, and you’ll have so much more fun too!
3. Trying to get somewhere too quickly
We’re all in a rush these days, running from place to place, so it’s understandable that you want movement when you went out.
But rushing is one of the worst ways to do street photography.
You see, to capture great street photos, you have to slow down and take your time. Take a deep breath and let go of the urge to rush. Look around, wait with your camera, and let the subjects come to you.
The slower you go, the more aware you will be of your surroundings and the better prepared you will be to capture those extraordinary fleeting moments.
Sometimes you might have to stay in one place for 5, 10, 20, or even 60 minutes before you get the shot you’re looking for. But your feeling of satisfaction will be incredible and the wait will be worth it!
4. Not standing in the middle of the action
A lot of people start out shooting the streets from a distance, and they never really push themselves to get into the thick of it. Unfortunately, such an approach rarely works well; if you shoot from afar, your images will be uninviting.
Instead, stand in the middle of the street. Get smack-dab in the center of the sidewalk. Wear your camera proudly, put a smile on your face and get in on the action.
You might worry that people will react badly to your presence. It’s a common fear among street photographers, but it’s a fear that needs to be overcome. In fact, if you’re filming from afar, people can be After likely to think you’re up to no good. Whereas if you’re in the middle of the action, people will pass by and think you’re doing nothing wrong. Make sense ?
After all, how could you do anything wrong if you’re in the middle of a crowd? No one so obvious would do anything wrong, would they?
So take the leap. Stop and wait in the middle of the action, and let everything happen around you. Immerse yourself in the experience. (And, of course, take great photos!)
5. Take the camera away from your eyes
Street photographers love the “hip shot” technique, where you hold the camera against your body and then shoot shots without looking through the viewfinder.
But if this technique can work – and I use it, especially when things happen very quickly – it can quickly become a crutch.
You see, if you spend all your time shooting from the hip, you’ll soon become uncomfortable looking through the viewfinder.
Still, there are plenty of situations where shooting through the viewfinder is actually the best decision. For example, if you are dealing with complex composition elements, you must look through the viewfinder if you want the perfect frame. And if you need to get the timing right, working through the sights can be a huge help.
So force yourself to feel comfortable shooting through the viewfinder. Simply stand in an animated place with the camera in your eyes. Eventually, when you feel good, start taking pictures. Be proud to watch the scene unfold and enjoy the excitement of capturing that perfect moment in a split second when it all works!
Pro tip: If you’re struggling to feel good about shooting through the viewfinder, try holding the camera to your eyes for a few seconds after take a hit. It’s natural to remove the camera from your eye after capturing an image, but resist this instinct; instead, press the shutter button, then hold the camera against your face until the subject has moved away. If your subject notices you, they’ll think you’re trying to photograph something in the distance. (This trick works incredibly well in populated areas!)
6. Burst shooting
Beginners often think that if they take 10 photos of the same scene, they will be sure to get a good one. So they activate the burst mode of their camera, they hold down the shutter and they take dozens of photos.
It is a mistake.
In fact, I find holding down the shutter button and taking a stream of photos is an easy way to ruin all the footage. To get great photos, you need to be able to see what you’re shooting. You need to see the moment as it happens and then capture the elements as they fall into place. If you take dozens of shots, you will not be able to view anything. But if you only take one shot, you’ll be able to see the split-second moment when the whole scene works.
Of course, you don’t need to limit yourself to just one image; as a scene develops, you can take more photos. Just make sure you actually visualize the result!
And there’s another problem with fast shooting: you’ll end up taking 10 times as many photos and you’ll have a huge backlog of photos to sort through. How are you going to find the perfect setting in all of this? If you shoot fewer frames and shoot deliberately, you’ll have a much more enjoyable editing session.
7. Under- and over-editing
Many new street photographers will both under-edit and over-edit their photos.
What do I mean by that?
First, shooters tend to under-edit by showing too many pictures.
And second, shooters tend to over-edit adding all sorts of adjustments and effects with Photoshop.
Don’t make these mistakes. Instead, ruthlessly whittle down your photos to the best. You want people to actually pay attention to your work, and if you show too many photos at once, they’ll start to lose interest. If you show too many photos, you’re relying on the viewer to do the extra editing in their head, which isn’t fair to them!
So spend more time organizing the image. Use a star system to rate your photographs and make sure you don’t award too many five stars. Spend time after each shoot identifying the creme de la creme. If you don’t do this consistently, your archives will become an unorganized mess.
As for over-editing: when working on your photos in a post-processing program, be subtle. You have to fix exposure, manage vignettes, adjust color temperature, play with contrast and all that good stuff.
But don’t to go too far. Part of the extraordinary nature of street photography is that the images are unposed, unstaged and actually captured in the real world. If your photos are over-edited, they won’t look real, which will kill what makes them special.
Street photography mistakes: final words
Well, now you have it:
The seven most common mistakes in street photography.
Read the list carefully. Identify the mistakes you make. Then adjust your workflow!
Your images will be immediately improve.
Now your turn :
Are you guilty of these mistakes? Which do you struggle with the most? Share your opinion in the comments below!