How to capture street portraits is what we will discuss in this post. Your role as a street photographer is to track the subject and strike when the perfect moment presents itself. And while there are countless things you can study to improve your skill, the nucleus of every street photography portrait is a trained gut instinct!
Well, in addition to having that much needed trained gut instinct, here we discuss a few other things you need to keep in mind in order to improve your street portraiture…
How to Capture Street Portraits
1. Keep it simple
When it comes to portraiture, it is important that you keep your shot simple. You don’t want anything to distract you from the subject. As such, you need to find a simple background like a wall or basic lighting like a shade. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make your shot interesting. There are a couple of things you can do here: play around with the light, some photographers, for instance, aim for a subject with a spot of sunlight in their face. Others want to capture a shot with a tiny bit of abstraction in the background. Let your creativity take you on a journey to explore different options but whatever you do, remember to keep it simple. That’s the best-kept secret on how to capture street portraits.
2. Stop Moving
Street photography is more than just taking an adventurous stroll in the city. Being able to walk and still take great street photos is not your usual cup of tea. In most cases, you will find yourself in the wrong position when the perfect opportunity to take a shot presents itself. You don’t want your subjects to notice you as you position yourself the perfect shot. Keep in mind that your subjects are always moving against you and adjusting yourself to the right position while framing correctly at the same time can be a daunting maneuver.
The trick here is to be slow and steady while stopping for a few minutes after every few steps. Be alert and observe what happens. Your goal is to position yourself in a way that subjects come to you as opposed to you going to them. Look around you and be on standby to capture as things unfold. It will mesmerize you at just how much activity you can capture by standing around.
3. Spot the character
Veteran street photographers strive to tell a story. In between capturing a moment and telling a story lies a lifetime. And this gap makes all the difference between stunning portraits and what you’d call boring pieces of art! Be on the look-out for subjects with stories oozing out of them. With time and practice, you will be able to capture the emotional and the visual story from almost every subject that you spot through your lens. And don’t worry if you don’t get this right at the first attempt. It takes repeated attempts and practice to gain the natural ability to have people present their most real selves to you.
4. Use a portrait lens
While there are photographers who have perfected the art of shooting great portraits at 200mm, it is highly recommended to shoot on a lens that’s anywhere between 85mm and 135mm. This range is recommended because it has the least distortion to the face. However, be ready for a couple of trials and errors to get the perfect focal length that’ll work best for you.
5. Concentrate on the Eyes
Are you determined to improve your ability to capture stunning street portraiture by a whopping 1000%? Then focusing on your subjects’ eyes is the answer. While people have perfected the art of hiding their true emotions on their faces, their eyes always betray them. There are thousands of street photos with blank emotionless stares out there. What will make you stand out from the crowd is your ability to search the slightest hint of hidden emotions in your subjects’ eyes and bringing it out in portraiture?
6. Focus on Details
Great street photography lies in the ability to focus on the details. Not just getting crazy juxtapositions and fitting different subjects into a frame! Portraitures that tell great stories are those that bring out the “tiny things” –the obscure elements about humanity that everyone misses out. The devil is in the details, so they say: focus on the tiny little things such as a person’s hand, a fabric or an expression. You will be astonished at how much great ideas and deep emotions can be expressed even in the most basic of scenes.
7. Get close
Get this right, having great portraiture has everything to do with being able to capture the overt as well as subtle! You need to be able to capture the strongest forms of emotions from your subject. And taking a shot while standing 20 feet away won’t get this looped in! Don’t be shy to get closer to your subject. Let your subject fill the frame elaborately. That’s the only way you can be sure that your hard work and bravery in trying to capture breath-taking portraiture does not go down the drain!
There you have it, folks! You can find this amazing free ebook Street Faces on how to capture street faces with such remarkable tips only on PhotoWhoa. The book is written by expert street photographer Thomas Leuthrad. Capturing great street portraiture is a great way to tell your subjects’ stories and a timeless way to reveal human nature. And you will be astonished at how much you will discover about yourself through your quest to photograph others.