Working portratis as street photography

Street photography is part of the daily tool kit for news photographers. It can be much more difficult for photographers who are not expected to produce a news package every single day.

Walking up to a complete stranger and pointing a camera at him from just a few feet away can be disconcerting at best and dangerous at the extreme.

I usually employ the “OMG” opening explaining how great the light-angle-face-timing-color-movement-location-work-surroundings are that make it imperative that I take a photo of this person. It’s not a lie, just an exaggeration of the importance.

It also means that I have little time to make this work. Especially if I’m interrupting the subject’s work, path, or destination.

Be prepared to shoot quickly to make sure you have an insurance photo. An insurance photo is one that is taken early in the shoot to make sure there is something publishable if nothing else you have planned works.

Check your focus. Focus on a different subject approximately the same distance away. This will pre-focus your lens before pointing at at the intended subject.

Check your exposure. Make sure the aperture is proper for the subject. Does it need to be set lower for narrow depth-of-field or higher for a more in focus background?

How does that affect the shutter speed? Do you need now to adjust the ISO setting to compensate for the previous setting?

Is your subject still standing there after you’ve broken eye contact to check these things?

Street photography doesn’t forgive the slow photographer or the photographer who has to work through a check list of requirements.

It rewards the proactive shooter who anticipates the moment and is prepared when it arrives.

Editor’s note: This originally appeared at New Digital, now closed.