Capturing candid portraits on the streets can be stressful. When you first go out with your camera and you decide to capture people’s reaction, you find yourself wondering how to approach this type of photography.
First of all, candid portraits must show genuine expressions from the subjects.
An inside look, an image, in the life of someone. Then, your best ally is discretion. But how can a photographer become a good street portrait photographer? We will use some techniques that I experimented with during my trip to Jardín, Colombia.
Blend into the environment you are in
It may sound obvious, but do not forget that what you are wearing is important. If you are going to try to be discrete, dress appropriately according to the place you are in. Avoid bright colours. Maybe go as far as wearing local clothes if you are in a different country.
Let the subject walk into your scene
Instead of “chasing” and looking for a person to photograph, find a good composition, and let the person walk into it. You are then switching the roles. You are not entering the “personal” space of the subject you are photographing, but instead, they are entering your frame.
(I remember laying against a wall for about 10 minutes, taking a photo with my long lens 18-135mm, when this guy with confidence in his walk appeared. I was ready to photograph him)
Photograph people from the side
Using the same method, it offers a good perspective to stand on the sidewalk and aim your camera towards the other side of the street.
(For this particular photo, I remember I was kneeling behind a car waiting for this gentleman to walk into my scene)
When walking the streets, in order to give you more time to anticipate and get ready to compose your photograph, look within a 50 meter rather than a 5 meter radius. You will automatically be spotted if you just get ready to take the photo as the person you want to photograph walks by you. Look way ahead. Spot this photogenic person before he/she sees you. Look beyond your regular vision radius around you.
Use a long focal length
Again, in order to see before being seen, using a long lens can help. It can sound contradictory, as a long lens is usually big. But in my opinion, I would rather be seen by people around me than my subject at 135mm away.
(Photographed at 135mm on a crop sensor=Full frame Equivalent 202.5mm)
So go ahead and experiment. Let me know how it goes, post a link to your images if you’d like.
For more on street photography, check out this link.