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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Hey!! Lightroom hides JPEGs on your hard drive!!

Even though I shoot JPEG and raw, I always have Lightroom set to not import jpegs side by side with raw files.  Its just annoying and distracting that the catalog fills up with images that are not wanted or used.

But did you know that what ends up happening is that JPEGs you don't want are still copied into your destination folder by Lightroom on import when you do a copy? I didn't - and I found that my hard drive filled up with a load of unwanted JPEG files. Over time you it is surprising just how many there are, taking up space and not being used

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Four ways to avoid getting punched in the face when doing street photography.

If you are interested in getting started in street photography, you’ll no doubt be looking to get out on the street and start shooting scenes of every day life. If you have had any success capturing that amazing moment when an every day scene looks like some sort of conceptual art, you know how addictive street photography can be.  

However, it can also be daunting to step out into the world with a camera and make images on the street. Lots of thoughts come into your head. What will he say if he catches me? What will bystanders do, or think, if they see me taking photos of those unsuspecting citizens? Do I look like a creep crouching down like this taking a picture of this shadow? Will that guy punch me in the face if I take his photo?

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10 of my favourite tips for the street photographer

The internet is full of tips for street photography and I cannot tell you how many dozens of tips I have read over the years.  I decided to put a list together of those that have helped me and hopefully will add some value to your visit to this humble little site.  So without further ado fellow street shooter - Here are 10 of my favourite tips for the street photographer.

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Another year over

Another year over and a small start for this street photography blog. As 2017 approaches I can reflect on the year that was and think about my favourite street photography images and how much I was shooting and why.  

By far the biggest change for me in 2016 was the change in circumstances with my office location, which made it more inconvenient for me to go shooting before or after work. With all the construction and transport changes around Sydney it made it too difficult to shoot and get to work on time as well as get everything else done that our busy lives demand.

Thankfully a small adjustment in mindset allowed me to at least keep shooting every day, which really is the best way to improve. I started at a 365 project which, although not always and strictly street photography, has forced me to 'see' every day and actively seek out images. Given the time restrictions above the only time I had to do this was during my lunch breaks or in the evenings But it had to happen every single day. 

In order for that to work I needed something super small and portable. So I turned to the street photographers favourite, the Ricoh GR. As it is so small and compact I can slip it into a pocket and literally take it everywhere during the working week when I am not carrying around my X-T2 and 35mm combo. I also made a point of having the camera out and in my hand every time I stepped out into the street. This really makes sure that you just take the shot with no excuses for having the camera in the bag.

By changing my approach to my street photography I was able to navigate out of a disruption to my routine where I could have easily stopped shooting until I had 'dedicated' photography time. I am sure now that whatever the future may bring, in 2017 and beyond, I will keep shooting. 

If you have ever been in a photographic rut or had to make a shift in thinking for your photography, drop me a line in the comments below or on twitter

Happy New Year Everybody!!