Simplifying your life can really teach you what matters. Imagine everyone got rid of the dish washing machine, car, computer, television, espresso machine and alcohol cabinet. America’s obesity problems and alcoholism would probably decrease and thereby increase our standard of living! Easy peasy!
Well maybe throwing out your modern conveniences is not so easy. But simplifying your photos is! This is the first lesson in taking better pictures and the first thing that amateurs should focus on. So imagine yourself a stripper and take off all of the extraneous fluff until you get to the bare essentials.
Photography has often been referred to as an art of reduction, so here are some tips about things to avoid:
1) Don’t photograph crowds. Focus on one individual.
In shooting street photography, it is really tough to shoot crowds unless you can find some way of making the crowd form some kind of pattern (if everyone is wearing a uniform for example). Normally a crowd is filled with people wearing different colored clothing and this just gives you a hodge-podge that is not that appealing.
Focus on shooting one individual that stands out from the crowd. This brings focus to your photo.
2) Take out multiple and conflicting lines. Focus on one or two lines.
Too many lines, or too many conflicting lines can be confusing to the eye. Remember this is about “visual comfort”.
3) Take out color. Shoot black and white.
There’s a reason black and white photography is so popular. It strips out the unnecessary complications of color! Taking away color allows the eye to focus on facial features, patterns, lines and shade gradations in an easier way than color does.
4) Take out text/brands/logos.
I have written about this subject here. Text is a major focal point and a major distraction. Brands make photos seem like advertisements. Stay away!
5) Shoot fast aperture and shallow depth of field.
By having the background out of focus, it brings focus to that which is sharp. In the majority of cases this should be a face.
6) Stay away from crazy camera angles and shoot at the height of your subject’s face.
This is a comfortable perspective for the viewer as we normally see others at eye level (unless you’re 4 years old).
7) Make portraits.
Making images of buildings is overrated (and very difficult to be successful at). Everyone comes to NYC to look at buildings. Look at the people you’ve come across and photograph them.
So those are some simple starting rules for street photography. These practices work for me so read through them and see which ones suite your fancy. Then incorporate!