Banish Your Fears! - tyneholm
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Banish Your Fears!

Assignment S46

We can all feel slightly uncomfortable photographing strangers in the street, and we all have different ways of dealing with it. Some people fight the feeling and shoot away regardless; some will just give up and shoot something different; others will learn a new set of skills to help them deal with such difficulties.

Even the most seasoned street photographers have these feelings to some extent-from mild unease to uncontrollable terror-but here are 10 things you can do that will help banish those fears. Spend a whole weekend working on this – the more you do it, the more comfortable you will feel. 

  1. Desensitize yourself by spending more time on the streets. The more you’re out there doing it, the better you will feel about it. 
  2. Be quiet. Turn off any bleeps, clicks, and other camera sounds. 
  3. Photograph people who are focused on what they’re doing-they are less likely to notice you. 
  4. Be quick. Take the picture and move on. 
  5. Shoot scenes where people are not the main focus of your image. 
  6. Avoid eye contact. You will feel much more comfortable if you don’t have direct eye contact with people on the streets (before, during, and after your shot). 
  7. Shoot from the hip to disguise what you’re doing. 
  8. “Get in close” is a good principle in street photography, but it’s not an absolute rule. Get as close as you’re comfortable with, but keep pushing yourself to get a little closer every time. 
  9. Use a wideangle lens so you’re always shooting “past” the people in front of you. 
  10. At all times, have the firm belief that you are not doing anything wrong. 

View the images

Technique

  • Avoiding eye contact can be more difficult than you think, so practice it-before, during, and after taking the shot-and it will boost your confidence.
  • Blend in and try to look more like a tourist than a photographer; carry the minimum amount of kit and avoid big backpacks. Use a small camera if you have one. 

Field Notes

  • Know your rights. If you’re confident that what you are doing is within the law, you’ll feel more comfortable doing it. While the law varies from country to country, the widely acceptable principle is that you have every right to photograph people in a public place (but always check out the local legal position when traveling). 
  • Shoot with a “buddy”-many of us feel more confident if we’re not alone.