Street photography

The street is perhaps the place where a photographer who loves reportage photography can find the greatest number of scenes to shoot. Street photography is unlike reportage photography in that the latter usually aims to cover some event. Good street photography is a philosophical analysis of a minute part of life around us captured in an image, and street photographers often manage to tell a whole story in a single frame – this is sometimes much harder than covering a story with dozens of photos. Similarly to the way few writers can master the short story, there are only few names in street photography.

Camera Leica D-lux,S-1/15sec, F2.8, 200ISO I took this photograph in motion, while I was walking down a street in Lyubimets. I saw the approaching people and the damaged road sign. In less than a second I took the decision to reduce shutter speed to 1/15 sec I stood still and managed to take only one shot. The good in-built stabilisation of my small pocket-sized camera allowed me to produce a sharp image in the background while the fast-moving people were turned into shadows in the dusk. The result was an evocative multi-dimensional image. The stillness of the landscape, which is frozen in time, the old house and the road sign bearing the traces of time, is in stark contrast with the transient fleeting moment in which the human figures are present. At the same time, there is a second story line, lying hidden in the opposite directions in which the two groups of people are moving. The real ones are blurred and seem to be dissolving fast into thin air, while the painted ones are sharp, but they are slowly being eaten away by rust. This photograph was awarded at the biggest international street photography salon in Italy.

Street photography is definitely a challenge for many people who have decided to devote their lives to this hobby. In order to take a truly impactful photograph, you will have to change the way you perceive the reality around you so that you can manage to predict when the ‘decisive moment’ will take place, which is the moment to press the shutter button and turn an ordinary photo documenting reality into a work of art. The phrase ‘decisive moment’ was coined by the exceptional French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. He believed that a decisive moment is not just the moment when you press the shutter button of the camera the way it is pressed each second by thousands of people around the world. It is that rare unique moment when all the elements of a scene developing in time shape a harmonious powerful composition. In order to capture that moment you will have to practice hard and train your senses, so that you can begin to see in your mind all the unique moments around you, even if you do not have your camera with you. Of course, this can be achieved through a lot of determination, hard work and practice.

Nikon D70, Nikkor 24-105VR, S-1/500sec, F8, 200ISO . I was driving slowly behind the trolley bus stuck in a traffic jam while the children were waiving at me, playing around and just generally having fun. My camera was on the next seat, so I picked it up and took one shot. 15 years later I showed this photo in the social networking sites. One of the children (now a 25 year old young lady) recognised herself and tagged the others. It was a huge surprise for everyone and both they and their parents were deeply touched and moved by the memory. This is the power of a captured moment – it is a virtual time machine.

What equipment do you need for this type of photography? There is no clear answer to this question. You can capture an interesting moment from life around you with any camera. Of course, older models digital cameras with considerable shutter lag are not particularly well-suited for the job because the fleeting moment will have gone forever even when you reacted on time. With this type of photography it is particularly important to have good reaction time for the auto focus and all the other camera functions. It is a good idea to buy equipment which is neither too bulky, nor too sophisticated, so that it does not draw too much attention. The lenses you can use are also not limited to a certain type. You can use wide-angle lenses to shoot from close distances so that the viewer can feel your presence in the photograph, or you could use telephoto lenses, which will help you remain unnoticed and simply be an observer of the events.

Ultrazoom Panasonic FZ2000, 400mm (35mm equiv), S-1/200sec, F4.5, 200ISO. I took a photo of this man, deep in thought, from a long distance with an ultrazoom camera. Owing to the telephoto lens and the large distance to the object, the perspective is strongly compressed creating the illusion that the tramway is really close, as if watching the man with its bright eyes.

Reportage photography and street photography with a wide-angle lens are like a story being told from the first person singular, and photography with a telephoto lens is like a story told from a third person perspective. Often stories told from a first-person singular are more appealing and more primal, which is why they easily grab our attention, while stories in the third person feel heavier and more settled, but sometimes they leave a deeper mark in our minds.

Ultrazoom Panasonic FZ2000, 25mm ( 35mm equiv ), S-1//100 sec, F11, 200ISO. This photograph was taken again with an ultrazoom model, but this time with a wide-angle lens setting, a low point of view thanks to its tilt screen and closed aperture to bring forth the rays of sunlight. An internal reflection cast a beam of light on the face of the passer-by.

Modern phones can be a great tool for creating street photography. They do not strike the eye and do not bother people like serious cameras with large lenses.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium, F1.8, S-1/200sec, 250ISO. Triple reflection in the window of an empty store and a mirror at the bottom of the store. The black and white processing is done in the phone itself.

The use of flash in street photography is controversial as they go against the natural atmosphere of the events occurring. If light is not sufficient, you should use lenses with higher light power and higher sensitivity. Black and white photography is especially good for this type of photography, because there are no distracting colour accents. It is not permissible to pass staged scenes for street photography or to interfere fundamentally with the picture during the editing process – montage, collage or other types of manipulation.

Konica-Minolta Dynax 5D, 60mm, S-1/125, F6.3, 3200ISO. One could interpret the contrast between the lonely child and the artificial adult figures next to him in several different ways.

In conclusion – creating a feature film is not an easy task, but neither is creating a documentary. It is a real challenge, however, to shoot a documentary so that it makes a powerful artistic statement.ание.

I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive… I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.
Man Rey