Practicing Street Photography      

I have read that Street photography is the practice of photographing chance encounters and random incidents in public places, Well, like the street.

In an article about my experiences in Vancouver BC some time ago I wrote, “I think that successful street photography captures a moment from the society around us. It’s a moment in time that is an important for the present and future.”

I am fascinated with this kind of candid photography that has been around since people began to carrying cameras in public, and I am always up to any occasion that allows my somewhat reserved and not so confident approach to photographing strangers going about their life on any public street. So when that opportunity presented itself at the giant outdoor flea market in Anacortes Washington I was excited.

Most modern street photographers seem to be recommending small, inconspicuous mirrorless cameras. However, in spite advice posted on many of the forums I have visited I still wondered if I could again try using my big DSLR with a battery grip and 24-70mm attached. I admit that’s a huge and very noticeable combination that the last time I tried at this event had curious by-passers looking right at me.

I remembered a 1969 Algerian-French movie, called “Z”, about some foreign dictatorship and a photojournalist who helped to uncover evidence about a murder. The photographer, wielding a big camera with a loud motor drive, continually shot from his hip. So I thought, what the heck, lets see if I can get away with that. Also, knowing I could easily crop, I moved the lens to its widest 24mm and photographed everything holding my camera at my waist.

I also figured that people at the street sale would be so absorbed with their treasure searching that if I didn’t hold my camera up to my eye, like I did last time, they would be oblivious to my photography.

My results were much better than last time. I wandered releasing the shutter anytime I observed people doing something interesting. There were a few camera conscious people that remarked about how big and nice my camera was, and one guy even asked the model I had. Nevertheless, none of my pictures showed people turning to look at me as I was taking a picture, except for those times when actually I asked someone to pose.

The big street market made things easy, and my new “stealth” photography technique made me more comfortable. And as I said, my results were much better this time. Whether it will work when I am not at an event that distracts people’s attention away from me remains to be seen.

6 responses to “Practicing Street Photography      

  1. Some cool shots – looks nice in monochrome. I do the same thing for street photography – shooting from the hip … or if the subject is far away, I point my camera off to the side to focus on a object, then quickly swivel and take the shot.
    But when I’m with my wife, I have to be careful – she despises trickiness – and will often say “Did you just take a picture of those people” – When plead guilty – she just rolls her eyes. But she’s put up with me for 35 years! My favourite shot of yours is the guy carrying the multi-headed lamp and the woman beside him.


    • Thanks Michael. Yes, the couple with the lamp was interesting. I wondered how far they had to go.
      I think Black and White is most street photographer’s preferred medium, thats why I convert my street shots.
      I never had your problems with the subjects I photographed. My wife was also a very good photographer that although she preferred photographing scenics, flowers and the occasional eagle, I remember some of her San Francisco street photos from many years ago when she was shooting with a long lens.
      As long as the photo was interesting she was fine with it no matter the subject.


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