In several areas around the country, many people gathered in crowded areas to celebrate Memorial Day this past weekend. If you were one of these attendees – or if you live in a densely populated area – you probably want to get away from the crowded areas for a bit. If you’re a street photographer, this may be difficult since the genre thrives on crowds and chaos. However, there’s another side to street photography that can be done in the quietest of areas. Here are some tips for street photography in quiet areas.
Blending in while standing out
Street photography in quiet areas can be tough. In busier areas, people with cameras can blend in and get close. Plus, there’s a ton of energy and new people pop in the frame in a consistent stream. In quieter areas, you may stand out like a sore thumb with your camera in hand; there’s just not enough going on to allow you to blend in. If you try to appear as though you’re photographing the area, you have a better chance of avoiding attention. Just make sure you’re being respectful – if someone asks you to leave their property, leave – and you should be able to capture some beautiful images. Smaller cameras with prime lenses help a lot for not standing out.
While traditional street photography is typically associated with candid moments in public, portraits can have a big part in street photography projects (particularly in quieter areas). Try mixing photographs of the surroundings with portraits; this is a great way to tell the story of the area. When creating the portraits, make sure you don’t forget to make the portrait feel real and candid.
Learn a location and try to make several visits
Choose a place that you know well (or want to know well) and make going there a part of your routine. The act of returning over and over will give you a nuanced understanding of the location and how it ticks, as well as more opportunities to come across a variety of moments. Over time, you will start to notice more and more things that you may have completely missed early on.
Capture the Environment
Street photography is about capturing something that lives just underneath the surface while in plain sight, and you can do this just as easily with photographs of the surroundings as you can with people. Try capturing houses, found objects, the streets and the infrastructure of an area. The goal is to try to show a story of what the area feels like and what’s interesting about it.
Connect with the location
Street photography is often about connecting yourself with your subjects; it’s about taking something internal and searching for moments in the real world that mirror these feelings. Think about what it is that drew you to explore and photograph an area, think about why you connect with it, then search for moments that show these feelings. This is where the nuance will start to shine through in your work.
When done properly, viewers not only get an understanding of the areas you feature, but they’ll also start to feel like they know more about the photographer behind the work as well.