Learning the Ropes of Street Photography


There is an easy way to shoot street photography and then there is the hard way. The easy way is taking candid shots of people and not asking for their permission. Did that last time. There are some moral considerations for publishing those pictures, especially if the subjects can be recognised from the shots. The hard way is to confront the people you want to take pictures of. You approach them and ask for their permission to take a picture. Carla Coulson recently wrote a great article about overcoming the fear of photographing strangers in Petapixel. Approaching strangers and asking for their permission is really hard. I am so deep in my discomfort zone that I really have to push myself to be able to do it.

Know there is a chance of a ‘no’ but also know there is a big chance of a ‘yes’. Of all the no’s I have had, I have had 10 times as many yes’s. – Carla Coulson

My limited experience is the other way around. It is disheartening to keep asking and receiving constant stream of nos. I am a friendly guy, I dress nicely enough and I approach people with a benevolent smile and attitude. And still I get showered with nopes! Maybe it’s the Finnish culture. We are super aware of our rights and we most certainly do not want to end up on some random blog site. Also the darkness of winter time can have an influence on the preference of “no”.

Asking never hurt anyone

But I do think it is good practice to keep asking and keep receiving negative responses. I rarely encounter such situations in my normal life so maybe it makes me more attuned to negative first responses. And maybe after a while the responses start feeling less disheartening. But when I get a yes, it feels great. Then I have few seconds time to compose and direct the model. I guess I should develop my ability to just take my time and chat up the person I’m photographing. I do believe I could get a lot better pictures if I would just talk and direct more. But that’s maybe something I’ll start doing more in the future. First I need to get accustomed to the permission asking process.

Oh and I really need to get business cards, it would make it a lot easier to get the permission I think.

Last weekend’s bounty

Anyway, here’s some of my street pictures from last weekend. I was in Tampere on Saturday night and in Tikkurila station on Sunday night.

This one was my favourite picture of the lot. Nice firm expression and cool posture. Also it is the only one in colour.

I shot with Sigma DP3 Merrill, which is a compact camera with 75 mm equivalent fixed lens. It is notorius for producing great pics at low iso, but terrible pics after ISO400.

After ISO 400 and up to ISO 3200 you can get great images by converting the images to monochrome in Sigma Photo Pro and using only the top blue layer.

The blue layer is very clean of noise although at ISO 3200 you do start getting banding pattern and some noise reduction artifacts.

I like adding some “film grain” to the pictures to mask the noise reduction artifacts.

This steampunkish view is from the middle of Tampere. It’s crazy how there is a factory in the dead center of the second largest city of Finland.

This guy was super cool and into photography himself. Love the old timey vendor box!

“ES” is a popular and cheap energy drink can. It’s a cult classic amongst the young people.

The police patrolling the central square and a nice looking couple strolling over.

This is a candid shot. Tampere is having “Valoviikot” for next few months. Lots of lights hanging around!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you’d like! 🙂