Because Leica invented the first autofocus system and then realized that it could never be as precise as the rangefinder, so it sold it to Minolta (the first camera equipped with autofocus was indeed the Minolta 7000 AF). In fact Leica, and I'm talking about the Leica M rangefinder (M stands for "messsucher" which [...]
A few days ago a strange thing happened: I asked an old man in a historical market here in Rome to pose for an environmental portrait, and after I photographed him I was asked to view the photo. At one point the subject’s friend looked at the camera around my neck (Leica M) and [...]
The quest for ever higher megapixel resolution is still in full swing with no end in sight. People think that higher resolution (more megapixels) will assure better performance results. Leica seems to have a more sensible approach quitting the pixel race keeping performance of Leica M cameras some of the best still available. Instead [...]
Better an asked portrait or a photo taken without being seen? It depends. I do not think there is a definition of the best way in absolute but rather a mix of internal and external factors that determine the best choice from time to time. Avoid the hypocrisy of saying that street photography must [...]
A quick list of tips from my direct field experience about telling a story with photography. Those who approach photography sooner or later feel the desire to tell something with a camera. Often with just one photo, starting to do what is now called street photography, with the possibility in some cases of using a […]
It depends. I do not think there is a definition of the best way in absolute but rather a mix of internal and external factors that determine the best choice from time to time. Avoid the hypocrisy of saying that street photography must be stealth so you will not alter the situation: it is often […]
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta – Travel and people photography is perhaps the highest form of free interpretation of what is today’s society. The way to achieve moments of real life is always a free choice of the photographer but with experience we understand which […]
The way to achieve moments of real life is always a free choice of the photographer but with experience we understand which lenses are most suitable than others. Although it is interesting to see portraits taken with mid to long lenses inside a project, in my opinion they should not be generally more than 5% of the whole story. The rest of your shooting need to be done with a wideangle lens.
As Robert Capa was used to say “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough“.
But… Which wide angle? Here we enter seriously into the personal taste land. I’ve worked a lot with the 28mm in the past but I am a 35mm man. Today’s trend suggests you to go down until 21mm or even more but I think that, reached certain limits, between distortions and angles of view very different from that of the human eye, the photographer is likely to give the scene a unnaturalness that keep away the beholder from real context.
In the end, what would I suggest is to stay between 24mm and 35mm focal length to contextualize the subject with its surroundings, taking naturally and spontaneously scenes and events that are happening without exceed the scene.
What are advantages of using a wide angle lens in street photography, compared to a telephoto or a fixed “normal” lens?
You have to go close to the subject, entering the scene.
The focus is faster and easier, having much more depth of field at equal aperture.
Lenses are usually small and luminous, lightweight and unobtrusive avoiding to intimidate the subject:
You can give more drama to the scene with unusual points of view You can play with perspective in a more creative way
Reportage and documentary photography, involves and thrill photographer and the observer capturing unique, funny, tense moments of a fraction of daily life.
But what is it that, actually, makes photographers like Steve McCurry unique during their travels around the world? The photographed subjects, often real photographs of genuine people posing and casually met just moments before.
And now, for some of you, terror is starting: how do I interact with a complete stranger? How can I ask him to pose for me? How can I convince him to move to that place that contextualizes it perfectly and turn him in one particular direction obtaining the best light? In other words: how to approach people in street photography?
Actually if you do not use tact and adequate sensitivity, you may not bring any results at home. It is a must to be always honest, discreet, professional and determined to build a relationship of trust with a stranger to get from him his image in your pictures.
Confidence. This is the key word.
Is convenient to getting started with exuberant, maybe eccentric, dressed characters. These are first people who want to be photographed, becoming temporary protagonists of someone else and his own life.
Once you are familiar with people approach technique on the street, you will become more confident about yourself and quick to bring home a result worthy of the great contemporary photographers.
Here are some tips to untie the knots in your throat that come from this disturbing practice called “street portraiture“:
Use small cameras and lenses to go unnoticed and do not intimidate the subject.
Be determined and respectful, you never know who you are dealing with and how they can react.
Choose your subject carefully in order to reflect your photo purpose but make sure that it is not a dangerous person.
Don’t be afraid, most of the fears do not come true and you can miss opportunities to take home interesting and important photographs for no reason.
Remember, many people do not even realize you are photographing them.
Focus on the act of portraying the subject and not on the fear of unknown consequences.
In the worst case, you can always delete the photograph under the eyes of the subject.
Don’t think too much, approach and shoot… you need not even interact if you want to “steal” the shot.
Try to approach your subject closer each time as an exercise to do on a daily basis, until you reach the necessary distance to make the future beholder feel “in” the scene.
Don’t put the subject in the center unnecessarily, try to move it to one side so with a wide angle lens, it will seem that you are pointing the camera somewhere else and not in front of him.
Always try to make eye contact with the subject; if the picture is stolen, you must be precise and quick in shooting at the right time, if the photo is posed and spontaneously granted his look will be the result of the kind of relationship you have created with him until then.
If necessary, explain the reason for the shooting, something nice you saw in him/her, how do you think that the photo will be used and it would be nice to share it with the subject itself… maybe giving your contact (website, email, social accounts).
Always show gratitude… Not only will you make the subject happy, you will feel good and useful. Plus you’ll slowly sensitize people to be photographed calmly.
My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph. – Richard Avedon – Portraiture for me is synonymous of reduced depth of field: eyes in perfect focus and the rest is “bokeh” only, starting from the ears. To achieve this effect there are some determining factors such as the aperture […]