Street photography: the method to help you get beautiful, spontaneous portraits!


Street photography: the method to help you get beautiful, spontaneous portraits!

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Hello to all you passionate photographers out there !

I am Maïeva Voyage from the blog www.photo-tuto.fr and I will be your host for the month of September, 2013, on the blog Manfrotto Imagine More.

I got started with photography completely by chance 4 years ago, when I was given a present that would change my life: a Reflex camera.

So I skimmed specialized websites, blogs, forums… I read books, specialized magazines, ebooks… I spent sleepless nights scouting out information to succeed in getting great results from my camera.

So what was the hitch?
75% of the time, I understood nothing they were talking about (a little like when you go to some dinner party where everyone seems super smart, they use specialized terms, and tell jokes that are incredibly funny it seems and which get everybody laughing… except you).

And what was the worst thing about all this? Despite all my efforts, my photos were still just as ugly.

The best thing that could have happened was my departure for Vietnam a few months later for professional reasons.
There I started practicing on the ground, and practicing a lot.
I also joined the Photo Club of Hanoi where I met some wonderful photographers.

I understood then that the jargon, the pure technique, the settings, all of that was secondary: a photograph’s success relied above all on other parameters!
These are the types of parameters we’re going to discover throughout this whole month of September, 2013, on Manfrotto Imagine More.

What you are going to discover today and over the next 4 weeks, are the tricks, the tips, the little things I picked up in the field that really work and that are never talked about in the materials I managed to pour through when I was getting started.

By the way, if you’re looking for lecture courses on the art of photography: you won’t find them here.
Because on Manfrotto Imagine More, we’re going to forget the jargon, put aside boring explanations and concentrate on sure-fire tips from the field, techniques that are tried and true and which I use all the time (these are techniques I learned from professionals and from extremely talented friends).

So off we go on the first tutorial from the field! Of course, often field work in photography means Street Photography.

Street Photography is my favorite photography style.
I love Street Photography the way Kanye West loves flashy, sparkling bling: I’m mad about it !

Today, you’ll discover 3 tricks I use constantly as I wander the pavement looking for beautiful images and spontaneous photo portraits.
And so there will be something for everyone, I selected these tips for:

1/ timid photographers

2/ photographers who are brave (as long as you’re with a friend)

3/ and photographers who are (really) risk takers

Trick n°1 (for timid photographers): When “good things come to those who wait.”

Step 1: Locate yourself in a place where people wait, spend time: maybe it’s outdoor seating at a café, a park bench, a waiting room, etc.
If you’re sitting in this spot for a while, people who soon stop even taking notice of you there.
Then, wait patiently until you spot a group that you think is interesting.

Step 2: When you’ve found your group, frame your shot.
What that means is that as you look through the viewfinder, you try to fit all of the elements you like in the scene into that frame.

Tuto 1 - Photo 1

Step 3: Get the group into focus. That means you’re going to click half way on the shutter release.
Careful: don’t push down fully on this button! The idea is to get yourself ready and to prepare the camera for the last step.

Step 4: Wait for something to happen: someone bursts out laughing, shows an emotion, or an unusual facial expression (that’s the famous “decisive moment”)… and then click click take the shot!

Tuto 1 - Photo 2

(Ta-da! That’s the look I was waiting for !!!)

This is something that is very easy to do. The only tricky part is between step 3 and step 4: the risk is if you lose your nerve or get impatient and take your photo much too early.
So, you’ve got to apply that virtue of patience, wait several seconds, or even 2, 3, or 4 minutes and then you’re sure to get great results!

2/ Tip n°2  (for brave photographers…working with a friend) known as the “quick as a flash” technique

Step 1: Organize a photo shoot for two. Have a stroll down the streets of your city or village until you come across a group of people working, having fun, or enjoying some fresh air.

Perhaps it’s a group of workers on the job site during their lunch break, or young people having fun at the skating park, or some elderly people enjoying the afternoon on a park bench under the shade of a large tree.

Tuto 1 - Photo 3

Step 2: If you like the scene, go and talk to them as casually as possible and speak to them very frankly. Tell them that “you are passionate about photography, that you think they are very good looking/photogenic and that you would like to take their photo”.

The important thing is to inspire confidence. Talk to them the way you would want them to ask you if the roles were reversed (if you’re nervous, you’ll make them nervous, so if you’re confident, you’ll inspire their confidence).

Step 3: if they refuse, it’s no problem, it’s totally up to them. Don’t be discouraged, it just means they don’t want to be photographed. So head off to find another group.
When the group agrees, start taking photos and then there are 2 important things to do:

_ step away from your friend (take 3 steps to the left or 3 to the right)

_ while you take pictures, keep chatting to put your subjects at ease. Ask them questions: “How long have you been working here/living here/playing here? Which of you first discovered this spot? Do you like photography or do you have hobbies you enjoy? Are you married?” »

Step 4: to photograph them, take advantage of the moments where your subjects are looking toward your friend and are responding to him or her in a casual way or moments when your subjects start to laugh at your small talk or jokes (amusing moments!).

Tuto 1 - Photo 5

Tuto 1 - Photo 4

(In these 2 photos, some lovely Hanoi grandmothers were very amused at our European accents in Vietnamese, among other things!)

Tip n°3 (for the true risk takers): “when there are none left, there are always more”

Step 1: If you’ve got the constitution of a risk-taking photographer then this 3rd tip is for you.
You already know how to approach someone in the street and ask for permission to take a picture of that person.

Tuto 1 - Photo 6

Step 2: Now that you just took a photo “approved” by your subject, slightly raise your head to make him or her think you’ve finished. Then, just when your subject has “relaxed the pose”, click again (you can even set your camera in advance to the “cascade” mode to optimize your chance of success)

Tuto 1 - Photo 7

(While this young girl thought I had finished, she started to burst out laughing while looking toward her friends, so it was the perfect moment to keep shooting and get a beautiful, spontaneous smile!!!)

You’ve got it! That’s enough for today!

So now send us some comments to let us know if you are also engaged in street photography. (Do you use these 3 tips? Do you know any others? Maybe this brief tutorial has given you the notion of trying them out?)

And if you have found this article to be of use to you (and if you want to encourage us to continue throughout these 5 weeks), share these great tips from Manfrotto Imagine More with your photography friends on the social networks you frequent!

Maïeva Voyage

Maïeva Voyage is an amateur photographer who discovered photography completely by chance about 4 years ago when she was given a Reflex camera as a gift. It t changed her life.
It was in Vietnam through the Photo Club of Hanoi that she developed her photographic techniques.
Since then, she is constantly treating her entourage to tales of her photo exploits and badgering them to pose for her, unless she’s working on her feminine photoblog Photo-tuto.fr to divulge the secrets she has learned from friends and her favorite photographer-authors (with great humor and a resolutely laid-back style).
Maïeva Voyage is our invited author for the month of September.
You can also follow her on her Blog 
Or on Facebook 
Or on Twitter 

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