Right now we have started up our online travel photography class, and I have to say it was one class I was really excited about teaching. Why? Because good travel photography is spontaneous, unplanned, fluid and diverse. In other words, you need to have a lot of technical skills and be very fast with your camera in quickly changing situations. Honestly, I love the challenge and unplanned nature of travel photography. You just never know what you will encounter. One moment you are shooting a street portrait, the next moment photographing kabobs on the grill, and ending the day with a classic fiery sunset landscape. Travel photography offers everyone a subject they like to photograph. But one of the most challenging is street photography.
Street photography records everyday life with no scripted moments. No posing models or arranging items here; you want your subject to be unaware of the camera and not change their behavior. Situational awareness is key to capturing the fleeting moment. Good street photography also requires….you guessed it, a lot of time in the street. Hours on your feet in the city is the norm. But you don’t necessarily have to roam streets for hours looking for images (the traditional approach). Instead, if you find an interesting scene or background, just stay put and wait for something to happen.
A few years back I was in Melbourne Australia at the beginning of a photo workshop. One day I went to Hosier Lane, a famous area in the city for street painting and mural art. At first I walked around for hours trying to find some interesting photos. But then I realized a better approach was just finding an interesting background, and being patient (it’s hard for me to stay put!). But as I waited I started having local Melbourne residents and workers walk right past my colorful backdrop. I started getting some nice street images, without roaming the streets for hours with not much to show for it. The image above shows one scene with and without people moving through it. The image at top was complete unscripted luck. I was just waiting for someone to walk past the colorful background I had staked out. Instead, a local walked right to the middle of my scene and turned towards the camera, lit his cigarette and started texting on his phone. A perfect unscripted moment….I just had to wait for it.