Tips for Street Photography

Today’s Post by Jay Farrell

Most of my professional work is documentary style wedding photography but most pros have their favorite things to photograph in their leisure as well. Because it’s fun, and it could help as a field exercise to keep us well oiled machines at what we do professionally.

web--27For me, one of those would be street photography. I love capturing the natural moods and emotions in a public setting and doing so in ever changing and demanding conditions. Light, sun, clouds, depth-of-field, shutter speed, objects in background or foreground to include or avoid. Not to mention overcoming focusing challenges, something mirrorless users especially should know. All these are real challenges in producing a great photograph, whether street photography or at a wedding.

There are different techniques and philosophies I apply to both street photography and my style of wedding photography. I know most wedding photographers are more traditional and street photography doesn’t match what they do. But dealing with demanding and changing conditions definitely applies across the board. It just takes a specific person to love street photography.

  • I don’t follow subjects. I anticipate moments and they come to me or I calmly approach them. Subjects seldom notice me at all, I want to blend in with the background. As at weddings, I want to blend in with the guests and not stand out.
  • It’s not invading privacy, you’re in public, and it’s not like we are paparazzi or window peepers. Some shooters need to get over that feeling.
  • Technique such as sometimes pre focusing and using a swivel electronic viewfinder help in situations when you want to lay low. Which is almost always the desired result for me. The photo below photo was from Dublin Ireland, the Garda arresting a homeless lady, who was screaming “THIS IS WRONG” so it would not have been in my best interest for the Garda to spot me. I was using my Fuji XT-1 and the XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens and was maybe 8-10 feet away.


I also don’t believe in telephoto use for either street photography or weddings. I like to be close enough to feel what I see, not see it through a lens. I think it helps me connect with the environment and subjects better. I can remain less conspicuous without a three-foot long lens attached to my camera. The reduced size of mirrorless gear is an asset for being more discreet.