Street has a life of its own. Street photography is a way of documenting the diversity of humanity in an honest but very straight and uncommon way. Most street photographers of the world, occasionally ask for permission to take someone’s portrait. Some street photographers are very social. I myself take time for the shot. When I see some interesting character in the street, I say Asalam O Alaikum (greetings) and initiate small talk. It makes the subjects comfortable and friendly and when I ask them to be photographed they happily not only allow me to take the shot but also pose for multiple shots. Occasionally I take portraits in the street without prior knowledge of the subject. This adds a punch of candid mystery. It’s my way and it’s my style.

What is Candid Street Portraiture

Photograph of a person that displays the expression, personality and mood of the subject. A candid photograph is that which is made either without the subject’s knowledge or without their permission; hence they are captured un-posed. Since the whole thing is happening in a public place it falls into the vast category of street photography.

Which Camera to use

Normal DSLR is ideal for street portraits. We have hi-tech Point and Shoot cameras on the scene, which apparently do not give professional look but deliver desired result. In most places where security situation does not allow DSLRs; such Point and Shoot are handy. We have to keep in mind the current scenario of the street photography in Pakistan. And this development has become a growing concern around the globe. DSLR is a preferred gadget for the photo walks with the support of authorities, but even then it cannot fetch everything in a tightly scheduled event with so many places to visit during a short span of time. It’s more important that your camera has fast auto-focus and an even faster frame rate. Often you only have a fraction of a second to shoot a candid portrait of or speedy happenings all around on the streets. Big lenses on gaudy DSLRs can provoke unpredictable reaction from the public. So you have to be quick, shoot while they look at you and shoot as many frames as possible. Press the shutter and keep it pressed as long as it is needed. It’s very important that your camera is fast and not that important that it is small.

Which lens to use

Most popular lens for street photography in the world is 35 mm lens ideally on a full frame camera body. It gives not only fast focusing and good shutter speed in low light, but also gives enough space into viewfinder to capture your subject in the narrow streets. But you can also go for a 50mm prime lens to shoot all these photos. For me a prime lens is a success factor because it’s fast, sharp, small and affordable. If you are only focused on getting street portraits so there is no time to zoom in and out. With a prime lens, this distance is always the same. So the photographer leans to move about and explore best angles. Therefore you can focus on the person, the light and the position. So a 35mm or 50mm (even on APSC body) is pretty good. If you use a full frame camera, 85mm lens would be a good option too. Most important is to know your camera, lens and various short cuts to settings for optimum results.

Which settings to use

Most recommended setting is to shot Aperture Priority Mode. Choosing the aperture is essential to define the depth of field. Now it is important that shutter speed does not go slower than 1/200 to freeze the action. You cannot shoot a sharp candid photo with 1/50 of a second. This is simply not possible, if someone is not posing. Choose higher ISO until you get the ideal shutter speed. The reason for that is you do not want to have a blurred photo. You can hold the camera still, but subject may move. You need to re-check the shutter speed several times, especially when the light changes. Set the AF to ‘continuous’ to ensure it will refocus when something moves. Another important setting is the burst mode. Always shoot a series of frames in the highest rate possible. The rest of the settings are not that relevant and camera will set them to automatic.

10 Things Street Photographers Should Remember

  1. Candid Street Portraiture could be posed or candid.
  2. Get good command on your gear.
  3. Your eye decides on what you see and capture.
  4. A good composition can do much more than good technology.
  5. A good photo comes from the camera, not from the computer.
  6. You cannot start at the top. It is a long way practicing to get top class shots.
  7. It is very important how you approach and act while you shoot.
  8. Always get ready to take the shot as everything would be moving in the streets.
  9. You cannot learn everything. There must be some talent present.
  10. There is no right or wrong. It is your photo, your style, your way.