Why Street Photography isn’t for Everyone

William-Sudhana-Tokyo-Street-Photography_33

Street Photography: Is it for everyone? Is it as simple as walking down the street and start snapping whatever you see during your walk? What makes a good street photography image? I am trying to elaborate this topic within my perspective and years of experience as a Street photography enthusiast too.

Talking about Street photography, it somehow reminded me when I first started my photography career. I built my interest in photography back in 2008, from a fun shooter to a photo journalist in my University’ events. The journalistic approach led me to explore Wedding photography industry which was pretty hype back then, which latter I decided not to continue.

Fast forward to 2014, I jumped into food photography industry and led me to be active in Instagram. This was the turning point where I left my corporate life and building my own firm in Creative Consultancy. However, as I shifted my social branding from Foodie to Entrepreneur, I still have the urge to release my creativity through photography and decided to explore the art of Street photography.

Within a very limited resource I have, I had to think creatively to capture right moment in the right time as money matters back then as a university student. I learn to predict movement, what will be coming in the next 3-5 sec and be ready to present way ahead so I got the candid kind of shot which tells story; just like exactly happens when we do Street photography.

1. LOOK EASY IN FACT IT’S NOT!

In general, street photography may look simple and easy. As simple as taking some random scene while you are walking down the street. Isn’t it right? Yes it could be true but not entirely define the deep meaning of Street photography.

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Asakusa
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography

Though, in practice, you might see the output just like a series of random shot, I believe there must be stories behind those images which create an artistic intangible value making it extra ordinary than a random snapshots of the society.

1.1 Story behind the Street

Just like any other form of Photography, the photographer always try to convey a message through their images. Direct or indirect, there must be some moment to freeze which reminisce something as a history

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography in the train
Though these 2 images were taken in 2 different occassions;
but I can pair them as one new story.
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Woman feeling sad
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography People Climbing
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Girls are Waiting and Queueing
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Amanda Inesita is waiting train on the platform

1.2 Your Response matters!

Frankly speaking, for me, street photography requires high agility and vision to predict what will be coming in the next 3-5 seconds and you must be ready to greet them. There are hundred of occurrence on the street and you are freely to choose what you want to snap. However, the moment flashes like The Flash flashes. Err, you know what I mean? Once its gone, its gone. So, what differs your photo from the world-known street photographer is how they envision the moment and freeze them in a single image or two. Unlike fashion photography, Street photography seems easy but it is not that easy.

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Women thinking and asking for Direction
Triangular, the foreground points out interaction between them two, while a girl in the background was thinking hard. I feel there are strong connection between 3 of them making a good story.
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography 2 men smoking
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography

2. OVERVALUE PRODUCTION

2.1 Gears

In my early photography years, I always rely on DSLR or Mirrorless camera for high quality output. Looking for their versatility, creamy bokeh, sharpness, fast auto-focus, and high resolution; however, technology advancement has provided us with significant ease where smartphone’s photography has successfully taken over the throne from Mirrorless camera.

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Huawei P30 Pro
This was taken by Huawei P30Pro

There are always pros and cons between the actual digital camera and smartphone camera; talking about quality and bokeh, I cannot argue that lenses are not lying. However, we are trading off that values with mobility and flexibility. If it doesn’t bother you much, then it works just fine. Moreover, smartphone nowadays are equipped with periscope lenses which allows you to cover from 18mm – 200mm focal lenght, wouldn’t it be more efficient to hold 1 gadget compared to carrying one heavy bags with different lenses?

2.2 Familiarity

How long do you need to compose and level your exposure before hitting the shutter button? We talk about Responsiveness in Street photography. Regret happens all the time, once you miss it there is no turning back. Thus, familiarity with your own gears play significant role in capturing that moments.

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Businessman Workers waiting on traffic light

For example, I like shooting with my Ricoh GRii. Regardless of its compact and pocket-able size, their Program (P) mode is very reliable. So, I simply set to P mode (or the least A mode) F/8 ISO 800 – 1600 depending on lighting condition and Snap Focus mode 1.5m. By this setting, zone focusing technique helps me to focus on finding the right moment, quick composition and snap!

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography

People ask me, “did you get scolded after taking the photograph?” Well, I gotta say it happened very fast without they even notice they were photographed. Less than 1 second I would say, I saw / they passed through me, I snapped, then I smile or act nothing. I rarely check if I got the right shoot right away, let alone it be my luck anyway.

3. HUMANITY MATTERS

What if the object caught you photographing them? We are all human anyway. Things we value here in Street photography is humanity matters. If the strangers are not happy with your action, simply delete the photo, show them, apology and move on. Apart from that, just give them “smile” and “thank you” as a sign of respect to each other.

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography A Japanese Man rest after selling hard

I took this photo using Ricoh Grii 28mm lens. So, in order to have this very frame, I was pretty close to him. Got caught snapping him but I threw a smile and say thank you to him. Surprisingly, he smiled me back and laughed! That kind of nerve and adrenaline when photographing strangers, SCARY AF! HAHA!

William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Old Man Workers
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Crossing the Street Shadow
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Reflection Street
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Crossing Street
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Shadow Reflection
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Asakusa
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Sensoji Temple Asakusa
William Sudhana Tokyo Street Photography Japanese Man

So, do you think Street Photography is for everyone? It is very arguable as it could look very simple but not as simple as you may think. Some people prefer to take it slow, directing is more fun; however, people like me prefer to race with moment and try to catch some “pokemon” on the street.

Let me know what you think about my photographs here, I still have some stories from Europe and will come back here for sure!

Find me more on Socials:

Instagram : @williamsudhana

Linkedin : William Sudhana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.