Tips for Street Photography

Street photography is a challenge, one more difficult than I anticipated.  It’s about acting in an instant to capture a moment that tells a story.  That means more than zooming in and snapping a photo from a distance as I have been so prone to do.

DSC01158 (1)This is a good example.  Though I did capture the moment, there is no story and the result is little more than an attractive couple taking a selfie.  

DSC00680As I explored Paris streets, Peter Turnley’s reminder that life gives us pictures kept ringing in my head.  More often than not the pictures involve people, and it is important that the photo be authentic, not posed.  

DSC00789If people notice you pointing a camera, especially one with a big lens, in their direction, they may shy away.  Asking permission, establishing a rapport before snapping away is a good idea.  That can be a bit tricky, so it requires some doing to become confident making the ask to a perfect stranger.  Once you are comfortable, however, the other  person relaxes and, in some cases, rather likes the idea of being your subject.  DSC00727Showing the result of your photo gets a very positive response, and don’t be surprised if you are asked to share it.  In that case, Turnley suggests that having a card with your name and email address is a handy way of dealing with the request.  That puts the ball for remembering to follow through in the other person’s court.

DSC01364Turnley emphasized having photos include a sense of place.  As I reviewed my pictures, I began to see what that meant.  Here, for example, it’s obvious the performer has drawn a crowd, but there is nothing that tells more.

DSC01371The second photo is more successful as the buildings and street lights hint at place.  I had to do a bit of body bending to get it all in which happens to be another challenge of street photography.  Standing erect and shooting straight on just doesn’t always work.

DSC01355Turnley suggests making pictures horizontal as more of the story can be presented in that format.  He strongly advises  framing the picture so that what you get requires minimal cropping.  Talk about a challenge!

DSC00605Whether to have your pictures in color or black and white is a personal choice.  The difference, according to Turnley,  is that color is rooted in present reality whereas black and white removes a bit of that.

DSC00780My takeaway from a week of attempting street photography is that it takes a lot of practice and a keen observant eye.  It also requires you to step outside your comfort zone and rely more on your own ability rather than on the camera’s capability.  Remember, the camera is only a tool.  What you do with it is what matters.

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With Camera In Hand, Ready!

DSC01289Where to begin describing what was an intense and fun filled experience?  Thanks to an opportunity provided by Maine Media Workshop I traveled to Paris for a few days to focus on street photography with Peter Turnley.  Now, that name may not be familiar to you, but chances are you’ve seen his work on the cover of Newsweek where it has appeared 43 times or on a Sixty Minutes segment featuring him and his twin brother, also a photojournalist.  Peter is recognized as one of the world’s best, and he is also a renowned street photographer splitting time between Paris and New York when he is not traveling to one place or another.

DSC01284So, what does it mean to take a workshop with Peter?  Knowing his credentials, I thought learning from him might be a bit intimidating.  Not so.  Peter is not only interesting but interested in the people he teaches.  He is warm and approachable, qualities which show in his work.  Most importantly, he provides positive critiques that give clues how to improve.

DSC00412 (1)What I focused on this week was seeing.

DSC00388That meant walking with my head up paying attention to all that was around me.

DSC00355 (1)I had my camera ready to fire away in an instant so as not to miss the moment.

DSC00537I  attempted to find a story in what I saw through the camera’s lens.

DSC00402Most importantly, I tried to own the idea that I am a photographer which is a pretty tall order.

DSC00858With those thoughts in mind, I hit the street remembering that, in Peter’s words, a camera is only a tool.  What matters is what is done with it.  

I will share with you my results and the tips that may help us all become better photographers.  Stay tuned!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind 

photography, Weekly Photo Challenge

WPC: Ornate


The tombs at Christopher Columbus Cemetery in Havana could not be any more ornate.

CubaWandering through the cemetery is like being in a sculpture garden

Cubaenhanced by the beauty of light dancing through stained glass windows.


Weekly Photo Challenge

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WPC: Happy Place

Pipe DreamsDifferent times, different places make for much that is happy, but if I have to choose one happy place, it is being on Pipe Dreams anchored in a quiet harbor or  overlooking one of Maine’s islands.

cloudsLooking up at the patterns of the clouds, listening to the rhythm of the water against the hull, enjoying the uninterrupted quiet is all it takes for me to be immersed in a happy place.


Weekly Photo Challenge