One of the things I love about street photography is that it kind of forces you to actively look around you when you walk, to look for that interesting scene, that mix of place, people, action or expression, for something worth being photographed and, therefore, remembered. According to the famous photographer Bruce Gilden: “If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph“. I think we can consider all senses, not just smell, but a slight sense of vertigo, for instance. But I agree that a good street photo should make you feel like you are there, like you are not looking at a static image, but rather at the very scene it portrays.
There are a few things I like about the photo above. First of all the real subject of the photo is not immediately evident. Just as when you are walking by, you probably first notice the building, the “broken symmetry” of the perfectly spaced windows and imperfectly spaced air conditioning units. Maybe you start looking at those and your gaze drifted to the top-left of the image, where you see a technician high up in the air, sitting on a precarious-looking wooden plank and moving about one of those big external units. I also like the stark contrast between the grey facade of the building and the (relatively) colourful interiors that you can see through the windows. The building looks recently restored, but there are already rusty stains coming out of the air conditioning motors, which no one seems to care enough about to do something about it.
Photo tip! When you see a scene that you like, immediately take a picture. And i do mean immediately! Unless you are shooting film, nowadays there is no reason not to take a picture. It comes out? Great! It doesn’t? Delete it and it hasn’t costed you a cent! Don’t worry about camera settings, composition, light and so on. If you are a very expert photographer it all comes natural to you and you can adjust all the settings in a fraction of a second, but in case you are not, just shoot! With modern software there is so much you can correct in post production, especially if you have the healthy habit of shooting RAW. Of course it is always better to get it right in camera, so you don’t have to crop, correct the exposure and so on later, but a scene that peeked your interest might last just a second or two. If you don’t take a picture of it, it is gone for good. But, if you still have time (if the person/scene) is still there after you took your first “instinct picture”, do set up your camera as best as you can for the second (and third, and fourth and so on) exposure. You can then zoom in or out (using your zoom lens or your feet, or both), correct the exposure, make sure that all the straight lines are nice and flush and so on, but only after you already know that you already captured the scene. For the image above, for example, I was on the other side of one of Moscow‘s large ring roads and there was just no way I could wait for a break in the flow of traffic to get the whole building. So I pointed my camera slightly upward to “crop it out in camera”. this caused all my vertical lines to converge, but as you can see I was able to correct that in post and now they are again nice and straight!
Would you like to organza a photo walk around Moscow or Saint Petersburg and enjoy a few hours or a full day of street photography? If so do get in touch and we can definitely make it happen!
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