Peace marcher wearing a Tony Blair mask, Whitehall, London, 15 February 2003
‘Street photography’ : say it out loud. How does it make you feel? I have mixed emotions – a thrill of anticipation, sometimes followed by anxiety. So today I’m going to suggest ways of overcoming any fears you might have.
- Don’t always photograph people : typical street photos have people in them, but they don’t have to. I would argue that my window shopping series, taken in and around London, qualifies as street photography. Follow this link to the London gallery on my website and see what you think. Would it make a good ‘warm up’ exercise, before going on to something more daring?
- Try taking pictures of people from behind : often what people object to is having a camera thrust right at them. I can’t say I blame them – it seems confrontational to me. Taking pictures from behind might look like a coward’s way out, but a rear view isn’t always second best. It can leave more to the imagination than a photo taken head on. Try it and see.
- Engage with your subjects : if taking photos of people without their knowledge or permission feels like stealing, talk to them first – explain what you’re doing. Purists might argue that this approach isn’t real street photography, but does that matter if you finish up with a strong portrait?
- Feel the fear and do it anyway : if my other suggestions feel like poor compromises, why not head out and take candid street photos of people in all their variety? They might object, they might even shout at you, but in general their bark is worse than their bite.
Whatever you decide, put on comfortable shoes, carry water and spare batteries – and above all enjoy your photography. I look forward to hearing how you get on.