(A.g.’s note: I asked some of the folks over at Streettogs Academy what part of their street photography they want to improve on. One of the many things that popped up was people are still shy going out to shoot or finding interesting places to shoot in. Hopefully this article gives you new ideas on where to shoot)
The best way to become good at something is if it becomes second nature. You have to constantly build habits and the right attitudes so you can turn something on and be in the zone when you need to. That principle applies to street photography.
If you are still uncomfortable venturing out in the streets, here are some places that can be a great venue to take street photographs without the fear of being hollered upon or confronted so you can concentrate on practicing and making images and not be wary of other things.
1) Anime/Gaming conventions
Cosplay and/or gaming conventions are full of characters. These places are great since most cosplayers don’t mind getting photographed. I’d go out to say that most of them want to be photographed with their heavily prepared and well made outfits. I suggest get them at their candid moments to separate yourself from other photographers shooting. But if you are into portraiture, feel free to ask them to pose and look at your camera.
Extra tip: Prepare to give out contact details since some of the cosplayers will ask where they can see your photos and if they can have a copy of it themselves.
- People Generally are OK to be photographed especially cosplayers
- Always a fun environment
- It helps if you are into the convention you are going but it can be a great experience if you are not into that community.
- Can get too crowded
- Passes or badges might cost a bit (it depends on the event but can’t be too much)
2) Fashion shows/events
Fashion shows/events is another environment where people like to be photographed. Fashionistas want to be seen at their best so you can capture them in that state. Try practicing being a fly on the wall. Be very unassuming in how you approach and work the scenes in front of you. If you are into the Scott Schumann type Sartorialist look, there would be no shortage of stylish people here as well.
Extra Tip: Dress Nicely since it will help you blend better with the crowd.
- Almost everyone looks good.
- Many cameras are around so people don’t mind the presence of cameras.
- You can make connections if you get to interact with other artists, designers, models, and editors
- You may need to secure a press pass for some exclusive events
- Be aware of the photographers as you might get in the way of the ones covering the event
3) Street Parties and/or Music Festivals
What I love about street parties is the festive mood! Everyone is positive and happy. You can usually weave your way around crowds and get into the spots that are great for photography. When you get someone’s attention, a smile can change the entire thing and that would make for a great photograph. Get yourself into the thick of things especially during independence day celebrations, Halloween parties, Mardi Gras, and parades.
Extra Tip: Get a schedule of the entire event so you know when things will happen and where it will happen. Also, pack light since you will be doing a lot of walking and moving around.
- The festive mood can make for great moments
- You can also join in on the revelry
- Can be an excellent venue to meet up with fellow photographers and do a photowalk in.
- Beware of those who are extremely drunk
- Can get too crowded or too rowdy
I always like getting invited into weddings or parties because it is a great opportunity to capture moments that can be really personal to the people that invited you. Strive to get some of the moments of intimacy or pure joy from the families of the people around. Don’t go for the easy and posed shots. Look at filling out your entire frame with movement and the mood of the party but don’t forget to enjoy the party. You are there as an invited guest and not as a photographer ;)
Extra Tip: Don’t get in the way of the wedding/event photographer. You don’t want to be that guy that will ruin the first kiss of the bride and groom by being in the way of the shot.
- Everyone will pretty much let you take a photo since you probably know everyone in the party.
- Easy to get access inside
- If you came out with a good photo, you can print it out and give it as a gift.
- You have to work around other shooters around you such as other guests and the main photographer
- The time you spent photographing can be time spent enjoying the company of your friends and loved ones in the party.
The nice thing about Band events is that it is easy to be invisible. People are there to listen to the music. Look out for how the people are reacting to the bands and their music. Just like in conventions, it helps if you are into the band whose show you went to.
Extra tip: Get to know the folks who run the place so they can give you access and some info on what type of band will be playing. Different genres bring in a different type of crowd.
- It’s rare that you can photograph while good music is going on
- Once get known in the scene, people would know you are a staple of that place and can shoot actively.
- Space can get too tight especially for small venues
- Lighting can be a challenge
The best thing I learned about street photography is that it can be a way of shooting instead of a style. Always apply the concepts, discipline, and the techniques wherever you are whatever you are shooting. It’s all about getting into the mindset of shooting in street photography mode wherever you go and there are many opportunities everywhere for a photograph. If something is beautiful enough, try to find a way to capture it. Hopefully these places can help you build the confidence and the instincts so that wherever you are, you can photograph comfortably. Practice does indeed make perfect and take every shot to hone your craft until photographing candidly on the street become second nature to you.