According to Wikipedia, Street Photography – which is not always shot in the street, but which is nearly always black & white – has its roots in Paris. What better place then, to try to master the craft? Luckily, my new Fuji x100T may be the best camera available for the genre. It’s perfect because it’s small, fast and completely silent.
Street photographers in the past chose black and white film due to its greater light sensitivity. This allowed them to stop motion blur. Today’s digital cameras with their super-fast lenses and sensors are well-suited to freezing motion. I chose shutter priority at about 1/500th of a second for most of these.
Focusing is a bit trickier. I am usually not looking through the viewfinder when I make these shots. Instead, I carry the camera at or even below my waist and pretend to be fiddling with it, while in fact I’m snapping pictures as fast as I can. I thought that maybe I should try a fixed focus distance – say ten feet – and shoot everything from that distance, but this proved to be difficult and produced a lot of blurry shots. It’s easier to let the camera (attempt to) auto-focus. Naturally, when you or your subject are on the move, you will still get plenty of out-of-focus shots, but occasionally, you’ll achieve something wonderful.
Yes, shooting this way is a bit random, and you could argue that there is little skill required to make shots this way. I believe that’s mostly true. The thing is though, that shooting “from the hip” can result in images which are more interesting and more emotional than shots of the same old architectural and landscape subjects. This is especially true these days, when virtually every square inch of the planet has been photographed by someone with far more talent and much better hardware on that one day when the light was just perfect.