The goal:

Not to become a ‘good’ street photographer, but to become a FEARLESS street photographer.

Pratical ideas:

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Make fearlessness your goal

Hearts. Hollywood, 2011 #flash
Hearts. Hollywood, 2011 #flash

To start, you must make fearlessness your goal. Through my decade+ experience in street photography, I truly believe that the #1 important trait of a street photographer is fearlessness, and love of interaction with humans.

Getting close

Kyoto #suits
Kyoto #suits

Ironically enough the best way to become more fearless is to jump into the deep end of the pool. I find that in order to conquer your fear in street photography, shoot with a wide-angle prime lens (21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm), and just get insanely close. Generally speaking, the best distance is around 1 arm-length (.7 meters).

The closer you get, the less likely your subject thinks that you photographed them. However if you shoot from a far distance with a telephoto/zoom lens (with the camera pointed right at them), you are far more obvious.

Wait for your subjects to enter your frame

A super simple street photography technique: find an interesting wall, and simply wait until your subjects enter the frame.

Mexico City, 2020
Mexico City, 2020

Smile at people and nod at them after photographing them

Mexico City, 2020
Mexico City, 2020

Too often we timid street photographers do this:

We photograph someone or a group of people (without permission), and when we get “caught”, we look away or pretend we didn’t shoot them.

Better strategy:

After photographing your subjects and they make eye contact with you, smile and give them a nod or say “thank you”.

Keep clicking

If you see an interesting subject and you photograph them, and they catch you photographing them, don’t stop photographing! Smile at them, and keep clicking. This might allow you to get a better frame, composition, or catch a better moment.

Don’t think; just shoot.

When you see someone you want to photograph, don’t think. Just start clicking!

Better shoot a bad street photograph than no street photograph.

Compliment people AS you photograph them

You don’t always need explicit permission to photograph strangers. You can do this:

See someone you find interesting, then start clicking, and then compliment them AS you photograph them.

Practice in a camera-friendly society/city

Havana, 2020 #streettogs #ricohgriii #color
Havana, 2020 #streettogs #ricohgriii #color

Shoot street photography in Vietnam, Cuba, Bangkok, India, Mexico City, or any city or place in the world is very camera-friendly.

Generally speaking, I find most countries and cities outside of America, Europe, Scandinavian, and “Western” countries to be very camera-friendly. This means:

Photograph in Latin America and Southeast and South Asia.

CUBA 2020

The upside of traveling and being a tourist

  • Tokyo flash, RICOH GR II. Escalator.
  • Layered Tokyo street photograph
  • Tokyo, 2017 #ricohgrii
  • Woman

What I love about traveling and street photography:

I am less self-conscious.

Generally it seems easier to photograph in a foreign city than your own city.

Practice everyday.

In street photography, you gotta ‘grease the groove’. Even if I go a day without shooting street photography, I get a bit timid, slow, and hesitant. My current goal in street photography:

To shoot everyday, by always having my RICOH GR III with me (Eric Kim Neck Strap) on my neck, or in my front pocket. To exercise my street photography confidence, courage, skill, and “trigger reaction times”, until the point that I feel zero ounces of fear in street photography.

Never stop shooting!

ERIC


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