Tips for Street Film Photography

Street photography is exactly what the name implies, taking film photography of real people (strangers) going about their lives. However, street photography isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds. Unlike a controlled environment, your subjects don’t stop and pause for you, they don’t give you the exact expression you want, and they will probably have some reaction to you pointing a camera at them. Here are some tips to help you with street photography:

Let Your Subjects Come to You

One thing you could do is try and let the subjects come to you by sitting on a bench or the front stairs of a building. This will likely limit the shots you get and will require a lot of patience but it’s a great starting point for someone looking to get into street film photography. Staying in one spot will also help you blend with the background until you become a little more comfortable getting closer to your subject with the camera.

Use a Wide Angle Lens

A wide angle lens is a no brainer for street photography. 35mm and 50mm lenses are very popular among photographers. These lenses will provide a flexible option to photograph the full scenery or take closer portraits. You could also use a zoom lens to get even closer to a subject without needing to be so physically close, but you’ll need to be quick with the zoom and focus to use it successfully.

Preset Your Film Camera Settings and Focus

With street photography moments come and go in the blink of an eye. You may only have seconds to point your camera and get your shot, meaning you may not have time to worry about setting the right shutter speed and aperture or even focusing. If you set your focus at a pre-determined distance and set your shutter speed for something faster (to avoid motion blur) then you have the ability to simply point and shoot when the moment arrives.

Shoot From The Hip

Particularly if you’re a little intidimated taking a photo of a complete stranger, shooting from the hip can result in some great, unique shots. People simply won’t be expecting you to take a photograph “blind” so you can easily capture the moment. The downside, of course, is that you may not capture the image you’re hoping for. However, if your camera supports it, you could also use a waist-level finder that lets you hold the camera at waist level and look through the viewfinder from above. Shooting from the hip also provides a unique perspective compared to constant eye-level shooting.

Use a Faster Film

While it will result in heavier grain, use at least ISO 800 film or faster. Unless the sun is working heavily in your favor it’s likely you’ll need the faster film unless you want to open your aperture all the way (resulting in shallow depth of field). The faster film speed will enable you to go just about anywhere with the camera and still take great photographs.