I am reinventing the way I approach street photography. I want to do more street photography close up. So this is how I have changed my street photography technique and adapted my kit to make this happen.
If you are a visitor to these pages you will be aware of my love of the photography of the great New York street photographer Joel Meyerowitz and Scottish photographer Dougie Wallace. The immediacy and spontaneity they bring to street photography is so much more refreshing than the easy urban shot taken with a long lens.
So if you are going in for street photography close up. How do you adopt an in your face attitude, without getting your face slapped?
Street Photography Advice from Dave Mason
I was watching a Zoom presentation by Dave Mason. He is the master of juxtaposition as you will see if you visit his website. He talked about how he gets in close for street photography.
This is his advice:
- Walk slowly so as not to draw attention.
- Stand or sit and wait to become part of the scene
- There is no time to adjust a zoom lens and doing so would draw attention
- Use a prime lens and zoom with your feet.
- Do not lift the camera to your eye
- Hold the camera in front of your chest
- Frame the shot through the rear screen
Setting your Camera for Getting in Close on the Street
I use a Canon EOS R, and I have set a custom button to switch the camera into street photography mode.
I use a 35mm prime lens, a 28mm may be better. Cartier-Bresson used a 50mm lens.
These are the settings I use:
- Prioritise shutter speed over aperture and depth of field. You are going to be working up close. Movement is exaggerated the closer you are. So ramp up the shutter speed to capture that action.
- Set to shutter priority fast enough to capture movement without blur i.e +400th sec.
- Use a high ISO 1000 – 1600 or higher depending on your camera to achieve as wide an aperture as possible.
- Set to continuous shooting so that by holding down the shutter release you fire off as many shots as possible to increase your chance of that ‘decisive moment’.
- Set your AF to servo and tracking, if your camera can hack this. Don’t worry if not. Cartier-Bresson’s 35mm Leica rangefinder camera was little more than point and shoot compared with today’s technology.
- Set your shutter to silent release. A traditional DSLR with a noisy mirror lifting mechanism may be too much in a close environment.
Actioning Street Photography Close Up
Putting all this together I now walk slowly, without drawing attention to myself with my camera unobtrusively in my left hand, tethered to my arm with a wrist strap. When I see a picture I raise the camera to my chest, steady it with my right hand and shoot.
Try it for yourself. Street photography close up, can be thrilling, you are in with the action and could lead to some spontaneous and unique photographs.