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Easy Street Photography for Beginners

Street photography for beginners is one of the most compelling subjects you can get involved with, and the good news is that you don’t need much to get started with – just some bravery and a good eye. Subjects are always to be found, and you can even curate a long-term project once you get into it. Here’s a few simple and quick tips for easy street photography

Easy street photography – Choose your spot

You don’t need to be in an unusual or exotic location for starting out with street photography – your local high street will do. When you’re first beginning, it pays to spend some time simply observing – even if you don’t take any shots for a while. Choose somewhere you can sit or stand without drawing too much attention and watch the world go by. You’ll soon see scenes which would make for excellent shots, and the more time you spend observing, the better you’ll get at noticing them.

Choose a discreet camera

In an ideal world, you want your subjects not to notice you’re photographing them. That way, they act naturally, and as they normally would. Nothing screams “photographer” in quite the same way as a large DSLR with a huge telephoto lens attached, which is why mirrorless cameras are perfect for this genre. The small size and form of something like the Sony A6000, for example, helps you to remain unnoticed, even though the sensor inside the canera is as large as many DSLRs.

Settings before shooting

You want to spend as little time as possible looking like you’re taking pictures, so get ready in advance. For street photography, it’s good to experiment, but try a reasonably narrow aperture of around f/8 to make sure everything in the scene is in focus. Use a mid-range ISO like 400-800 (maybe even higher if the weather is overcast, or you’re shooting at night). Shooting in aperture priority is perfect for this subject, so you don’t have to worry necessarily about shutter speed, but a quick speed of at least 1/200 is generally required if you want total control. Quick menus, like those found on the Sony A7 Mark II, make quickly changing settings on the fly even easier, so make full use of those, too.

Consider your focal length

While it can be tempting to stick a telephoto lens on your camera so you can shoot from afar, the best focal lengths for street photography tend to be “classic” lengths like 35mm and 50mm. That’s because these lengths give a realistic perspective, giving you a good overview of the scene and making the observer feel as if they are in the action themselves. Using a camera like the Sony A7 with a 28-70mm lens gives you the option to move between the different focal lengths to see what works best, but this is also a good project to get you started with working with prime lenses. Remember if you’re using an APS-C or Micro Four Thirds camera, you’ll need to consider the equivalent focal length compared with full-frame cameras.

Shoot from the hip

Many cameras these days have tilting or articulating screens, such as the one found on the Sony A6000. That makes it super easy to compose your images from the hip (or your lap if you’re sitting down). Not only does this make you more discreet, you get an interesting viewpoint, too.

Smile

Finally, if someone notices that you’re photographing them, a smile can go a long way. Looking nervous arouses suspicion, so if someone spots what you’re up to, flash them a smile and carry on – it will tend to diffuse the situation. Remember to be respectful, if somebody really appears to be uncomfortable with having their picture taken, put your camera away and move on. Get out there today and start exploring your neighbourhood. When you’re done, we’d love to see the results. Share your shots with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!