Candid street photography: lose your inhibitions and shoot portraits with impact

How to position yourself for candid street photography

Candid street photography is quite possibly the hardest discipline to nail. Even the best street photography tips, while improving your camera techniques, will struggle to help you overcome your natural inhibitions of getting in someone’s face with your camera. Find out below how you can make some simple changes to your approach and start shooting street portraits with more impact.

Candid street photography: lose your inhibitions and shoot street portraits with impact

All images by Ben Birchall

The fear of embarrassment when photographing people in a public place, combined with rushing adrenaline makes a heady cocktail for disaster. But fear not, help is here: fit a long lens (around 200mm), choose a high ISO above 200, select an Overall metering pattern, switch to Shutter or Aperture Priority mode and keep the Continuous shooting mode active.

Now your camera’s ready – a ‘fire and forget’ weapon that enables you to pick out subjects without worrying about settings, leaving your mind free to make more creative choices, such as framing and timing.

In the UK we all have the right to take pictures of people in public places, so if you’re brave enough, dare to get a little closer. The natural candid element you’ll sacrifice if spotted will be offset by the fantastic frame-filling street portrait you’ll capture if you can use your charm to get your subject to pose.

How to get close to your subject

Some of the best people pictures, especially street portraits, will come by getting close and within a few feet of your subject.

Begin shooting from a distance on a long lens but slowly approach your subject, recomposing to get tighter portraits and wider shots.

Long focal length

Long focal length

Short focal length

Short focal length. Our image at the top of this page shows the effect of a long focal length shot close-up.

If your subject sees you and knows you’re taking their picture they’ll clam up. At this point you’ll have to decide whether to carry on shooting.

If you do decide to, lowering the camera and smiling works wonders. Engage them in lively conversation and they’re usually more than happy for you to carry on.

PAGE 1: How to get close to your subject
PAGE 2: How to position yours (and best camera settings) for street portraits
PAGE 3: The best locations for candid street photography


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