One doesn’t go up to strange men, women, children, elephants or giraffes and say, “Look this way please. Laugh –cry– show some emotion or go to sleep under a funeral canopy.”
From Naked City, Weegee
“f8 and be there”, the great Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, used to say, which quickly became a popular quote in photojournalism, and still stands to this day. I personally live by this maxim. Being “there” is the most important aspect for street photography, being aware of one’s surroundings is paramount, quickness is key and total control of your gear an absolute must. Learn how your lens renders your scene, try to instinctively frame what you’re after – shooting the same (fixed) focal length at a time helps a big deal to master this task. I regularly rely on zone focusing and absolutely despise autofocus cameras, as I tend to find automatisms counter-productive on speed and on my creativity. The camera is my tool, and I control it, not the other way around.
Gary Winogrand experimented with different focal lengths, until he grew fond of the 28mm, which allowed him to get close enough to his subjects, yet this focal length allowed him to portray a person’s full body at close range.
The conventional conception of the wide-angle lens saw it as a tool that included more of the potential subject from a given vantage point; most photographers would not use it unless their backs were literally against the wall. Winogrand learned to use it as a way of including what he wanted from a closer vantage point, from which he could photograph an entire pedestrian from a distance at which we normally focus only on faces. “Figments From The Real World”