What is the best lens for street portraits?

Talk to a traditional portrait photographer and they will most likely tell you that any lens focal length less than 85mm equivalent is not a true portrait lens. Reasons given are usually focused on controlling distortion and using compression and subject isolation.  These are all extremely valid and sensible reasons…lets call them rules…that serve as an excellent guide to getting awesome people shots.

However as a street photographer, i am not always looking for the traditional portrait shot, nor am I working in the traditional way that a portrait photographer would work.  Shooting street portraits there are always a range of factors in the environment around you that I have no way of controlling.  I also am limited in the amount of gear that I carry around with me all day (self imposed but who wants to walk 10-12km carrying a bag full of gear?).  

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Why I shoot Street

I started to shoot street photography because it gave me the opportunity to be able to shoot every day, in a variety of locations, situations and conditions. I wanted to keep exercising my photographic eye but I felt that it was far too long waiting for a specific photographic excursion or planned shoot, so my camera would go for days without being used.So one day I decided to just put a camera over my shoulder and literally take it with me wherever I went.

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Street Photography on Sydney Hoardings

If you take a walk around Sydney these days you will notice that there is quite alot of construction going on.  Many of the areas that are under development are in historically important and even sensitive parts of the city.  Walking around this town during the beginning of the holiday silly season, you are able to get snapshots of what these places looked like in the past, and there is a profound sense of how important image making during these times was, and that street photography matters as a way of recording the way we are today so that others can get a glimpse of the way we were.

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