Street photography is all about the decisive moment, but the decisive moment isn’t all about movement. Most street photographs tend to center around moments in movement because movement surrounds us all the time and it is rarely hidden. It is easy to catch if you have your timing down. On the other hand, natural expressions are more difficult to catch because they are less predictive and often too subtle to make a strong enough element in a photograph. Here are a few tips to help you catch that fleeting moment of joy,
Know Where to Focus Your Attention
Street photographs are images that are found, not created. As street photographers, over time we instinctively tend to focus on the best areas of a scene that might provide the best opportunities to photograph a decisive moment in motion. For example, I tend to focus a lot on street corners and crosswalks because it makes it easier for me to predict what direction the motion is heading. Shooting a decisive moment in expression requires the same sort of selective focus.
In Public People are Modest
People are generally conservative in expressing themselves publicly, so in order to get expressions that are “larger-then-life” enough that they can be a strong compositional element. One needs to think about in what situations people are more comfortable in expressing themselves. Like when they are amongst close friends.
Know the People You Know
Yes, I’m aware that it’s not exactly kosher to call candids of the people you know “street photography” in some circles. But if you love taking candid photos of the people around you and the people you love are always around you they are going to cross streams. For example, let’s say your son is afraid of haircuts and today is haircut day…
Or your child has a very demanding personality and because you know him you know when he’s about to go off…
So abuse what you know about the people you know to get the best candid moments of expression from them. They’ll appreciate the result and I won’t complain if you call it a ‘street photo’.
It’s Not All in the Face
Emotional expression isn’t limited to the face. Hand gestures and stances can communicate feelings just like frowns and smiles can, although they often aren’t as obvious.
Obviously, mixing facial expression with body expression can render some great results.
Some places tend to lend themselves to people being more free with their emotions. For example, take the comfort of being amongst friends and add alcohol and what do you get? A bar!
Or lots of people and long waits? The boredom of a hospital waiting room!
Other choice locations for better chances of open expression might also include amusement parks, concerts, and sporting events.
That’s it. I hope that at the least this article has helped expand your normal subject matter a little. As always, comments are always appreciated.