There are numerous ways to approach street photography. One is to find a scene of interest – and stay.
In Berlin last week I wandered around and captured random moments of interest. At some point, I reached a train station. I decided to stay there for some time and see what happened. The scenery itself was this beautiful old train station with iron build frames and wooden ceilings. Adding that old-times mood and beauty.
Wait for it
Finding a good scene, if it is the light, the buildings or something else that fascinates you, should make you stay for a while. There will be small moments where things happen and you can photograph them with the camera.
If you are more into framing the architectural lines and forms, go for that. Often it will bring more to the picture if people are allowed to be part of the scenery, also when they are not the main subject of your shot. Including people adds a sense of size, movement and life to the scene.
Controlling the light
Staying around the same area also has the benefit of being able to control the light better. It is possible to set the exposure and aperture fixed and manual, and then everything can happen and it isn’t necessary to rely on the choices of the automatic light metering in the camera. Adding much more control over the final image.
I spent a little more than a half hour at the stairs waiting for people to pass by and capture what I found interesting. I look for interesting faces, clothing and their position in the selected area I focus on.
Often things happens fast and I make fast decisions. Sometimes they hold and at other times I miss them, or it is less interesting than I thought it would be. This is the nature of street photography.
Strange things happen
In between some strange things happen. The photo below resulted from my waiting for people of interest to drop by my photo area. It all happened very quickly and I didn’t realize anything before it was over. I spotted a white dress on a young woman coming forward, and at the same time as I lifted my camera, a guy jumped aggressively forward to block the view.
My impulsive reaction was to hit the release button and snap a picture. There was no time to focus manually with the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens. Autofocus wouldn´t have helped much because it was all in one move and happening in a split second.
The aperture was set wide open so the depth of field was extremely narrow with an aperture of 1.4
The picture would be dumped into the bin if it wasn’t because of some strange interest in the action. Would it have been better if it was tag-sharp with a focus on at least just one of the people? Probably.
The artistic choice of photography
The moment still is very appealing to me. The first thing my wife said (she is an artist by the way) was wow! This is a great interesting shot. My mind was on the technical part and I forgot the storytelling. The power of the photo may be in the action created by this out-of-focus dramatic scene. It can’t be more honest than that. You might feel differently, but I keep the photo and it still has an impact on me. I keep the photo as an artistic expression of scenery.
This also is what may happen when wandering around the streets. By the way, I have no idea about who these people were. Maybe a famous German actor or singer? Protected from being photographed by a complete stranger. This is the first time in my more than 30 years as a photographer I have stumbled into a situation like this. A strange situation and a bit funny too. Who knows who I almost photographed?