Shoot portraits on the street
Wherever you live, you rarely have to look far to find photogenic faces. Whether it is the person’s natural beauty that inspires you, or their character and clothes, your local streets are a great place to shoot striking portraits.
There’s no need to set up or hire a studio to get great pictures of people. Just step outside and you’ll be surrounded by local architecture that provides backdrops in every pattern and colour that you can imagine.
Bizarrely, it’s the parts of modern buildings hidden from view that often provide the richest pickings. The loading bays of shops, or small industrial units, often have large doors and panelled walls that offer a range of clean backdrops perfect for the job.
Keep things simple and use natural light. You will get the best results if you shoot on a bright day, and then capture your portraits in the shade. You can then use a reflector to balance the light.
There’s no need to buy a reflector – a sheet of white cardboard will do the job. Alternatively, pop up your built-in flash to help soften shadows and add catchlights to the eyes.
If you don’t have someone to photograph, there is still a way of taking portraits in your home town. Just ask anyone you meet if they wouldn’t mind posing for a few shots!
You’ll be surprised just how many people will say yes if you ask nicely. Chat to them and explain you are learning to take better pictures, or working on a project, and most will oblige.
Shopkeepers are a good choice – and their wares make great backdrops!
As you walk the streets with your camera you will see all sorts of interesting characters that would make a great subject for a candid portrait.
Most photographers find these easier to shoot from a distance, shooting, say, from the other side of the street.
This approach is usually easier in a busy market, than on a quiet back street. Once you have found your subject, wait for the best pose – or try to find a way of framing them so that the surroundings add something to your portrait.
You are within your rights to photograph people in public places (in the UK, at least). But use your common sense to avoid upsetting people. It’s best to avoid taking candids of children, unless you have their parents’ permission.
PAGE 1: How to simplify a scene
PAGE 2: How to pick out interesting photos
PAGE 3: Where to find the best photo opportunities
PAGE 4: Look for patterns in nature
PAGE 5: Walk around your subject
PAGE 6: Shoot portraits on the street
PAGE 7: Make the most of your available backgrounds