Play the Waiting Game - tyneholm
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Play the Waiting Game

Assignment S37

Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to street photography: you can “capture” an image (the spontaneous, reactive approach) or you can “create” one. When you create an image, you are in control of how the image comes together, maybe selecting the background and deciding what elements we need to come into play to make it work. 

Waiting is a big part of street photography. Henri Cartier·Bresson, despite being known as the originator of the “decisive moment;’ would often see a suitable background and then wait-for as long as it took-for the right element to come into the frame to make the scene complete. 

For this assignment, find an interesting background and play the waiting game: wait for at least one hour and see how many shots you come away with. 

View the images


  • Find your background first, then look for the best viewpoint or perspective. Set the exposure and focus, and then wait for your shot to come together.
  • Your image will have greater impact if the background is shot square-on, rather than at an angle. 
  • As your subject will probably be moving, set a shutter speed in the region of 1 /250 sec. or faster. 
  • Ensure your aperture is small enough for both the subject and the background to appear in focus.

Field Notes

  • Waiting for your “moment” may take a long time, so don’t become obsessed with one specific shot. Make the most of your position; look all around you and observe the environment from every angle to seek out other opportunities.
  • Find a good spot to linger-street corners are good because you will often find other material to shoot while you’re waiting.