How many times have you seen someone interesting coming towards you, only to react too slowly and miss the moment? Well, there’s no need to kick yourself and abandon the situation. We all know that “stalking” can have unpleasant connotations, but in the world of the street photographer it is a useful tool at our disposal. In this context it doesn’t mean making a nuisance of yourself or doing anything illegal; when we “stalk” someone, we simply maneuver ourselves into the best position to get the shot we want.
Find someone on the street who looks “interesting’.’ That could mean someone who looks eccentric, is smartly dressed, good looking, outrageous, or peculiar, or somebody doing something out of character or out of context. For example, imagine this scenario: there’s the unlikely scene of a nun walking along smoking a cigarette. She’s across the street from you, but is walking slowly. Your best shot will probably be head-on so you need to get in front of her.
Your plan would be to follow her from your side of the street, gradually getting ahead of her and then crossing over to her side of the street when you see a good spot for the shot. Get 30 paces or so ahead of her, then casually lean in a shop doorway. Have your camera at eye level, pretending to be looking at something in the distance and then, when she walks into your frame-click!
If you don’t get the shot you need first time around, don’t give up; go through the same exercise again. People are usually self-absorbed-especially in big cities-and won’t even notice you. Practice doing this a few times to create a series of four final photographs and you’ll see how easy it is.
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- Carry the minimum amount of camera gear so you don’t look like a photographer! If you look like a tourist you are more likely to get the shot you want without any hassle.
- Use the “set it and forget it” rule. Pre-set your camera with your desired settings (zone focusing is a great help here) so all you have to do is frame and shoot.
- Use a fast shutter speed as your subject will probably be moving.
- To avoid confrontations or problems surrounding privacy laws, always do this on the street, rather than in a private place.
- Don’t bother trying to get too close to your subject; it’s no bad thing if you include some background context.