Disclaimer: This is a personal observation based on years of practice and perfection. Any discrepancies, please let me know. This guide is only meant for newbies, wanabes, and amateur professionals. This article is made in association with Project: EDUCATE. Next week: ABCs of Photojournalism.
A - Aperture
Commonly newbies would either flip out their gears and start with P mode. Get out of that Pansy mode! Shoot at F/5.6, or anywhere between F/4 to F/8. Control your camera as well as the environment you're in. Don't shy away and let the camera control you.
B - Balls
For the guys. For the ladies, think of owning a pair. Street photography is like being a photojournalist if you wish to be a voice of the society. Thus, knowing how to have the balls to go up to some old men eating chow mien in the middle of the street and take their photos take practice. You either act as a tourist, or you just ask if you could. Chances are you'd get some Nos, but keep on going, there's bound to be a Yes occasionally.
C - Camera
Street photography lets us reflect and react. It has NOTHING to do with a bigassed bazooka of a dSLR, a mile long telephoto, or cleverly placed flash strobes on all corners of the sidewalks.
D - Depth of Field
Most street photographers who have been in-tuned with the business knows that it takes approximately 3 seconds or less before the subject or focal point shifts to the next coffeehouse. There's little to no time for you to play around with your focusing mode on the lens. Shoot wide if you must, don't worry about the depth, and worry about it later on your preferred photo-editing software or darkroom.
E - Emo Emo Emo
Picture this: a father and son sitting down on a pavement enjoying a cone of ice cream. Son's dead on focussed on the ice cream. Father looks at you. You snap the shot. Aaawww... [thanks meredith]
Picture this: a signboard with the words "Come In From Backside." Go to Engrish.com
Picture this: a friend holds up a V sign for you outside Chinatown. Go to MySpace.
F - Freedom
As long as you're not in the way of your subject, you have ultimate reign over what you chose to shoot. You are also not allowed to even touch the subject physically or even verbally. You don't wanna be seen talking to a hydrant.
G - Go Away
If you plan on getting asked questions like "Who do you work for? Why you taking my photo? Where is you publish it? Can I have copy? How much you charge me?" then, stay on.
H - Hat
Always work like a charm if you're a guy and meet a lady, and you tip the corner of your hat.. Or you're a lady, and you take your hat off and let your hair go like some kind of shampoo advertisement... both charming ways to win your subject's heart if they've caught you taking a photograph of them. Or you're just fending off the glare of the sun and you're not sure you've gotten enough sunblock on your nose. Watch out for sweat-lines on the hat/cap. Gross.
I - Invisible
Be invisible. Unless you're a walking bulldozer, try aiming at your subject in a subtle manner, say pointing to a roof top behind the subject after taking their shot as though you've got no interest in them. If you notice your subject actually approaching you, keep shooting the rooftop in case they wanna see what you're taking. Chances are they're intrigued at why you find the rooftop more appealing than them.
J - Just DO IT!
When you react to a scene, you may wanna remember that everything on your hands are set up way before it happened. Easiest mode is aperture set and locked at 5.6 (depending on the light), then let the shutterspeed go on auto. Don't hesitate. Don't think. Just aim your camera, hold the shutter halfway for the focus to kick in, then snap! Practice this for 5 seconds of Mentally Compose, Aim, Focus, Focus, Shoot.
K - Kool-Aid
To keep your creative juices flowing, you don't wanna pass out in the middle of the street and biting the dust with your camera sandwiched between you and the pavement. Drink lots of water. If you intend on carrying light, you don't need to carry a 2L bottle of fluid to keep you hydrated. There's bound to be 7-Elevens around the corner somewhere.
L - Legal Limits
Things to watch out for: overzealous store owners who may think you're a competitor, parents of children who may think you're a pedophile, buildings deemed as copyright protected such as the Eiffel Tower of Paris, or more info of the United States Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, § 120.a if you're in the USA.
M - Mankind
[thanks Scott] Street isn't just about photos of fire hydrants, perspectives of trees and street lamps, parking meters, or bird poops on statues. In fact, those even have their own subcategories on deviantArt. You wanna include personalities, strangers, hand in hand or bitch scratching at each other. Add some life to something atypical that you'd commonly see in just about any country. Man made stuffs on the street is one thing... man making stuffs on the street is another. Your choice.
N - Night
Street doesn't have to always be done during the day. At night, go beyond the conventional. Dare yourself to go where no one wouldn't. Just bring some tazer or pepperspray as an added accessory. Low shutterspeed of trailing headlights are quite common... How about a deserted Chinatown? Or when a commonly busy street during the day turned into a ghost town by night? Using a flash strobe is optional, although often with the many lights up from shops, street lamps, cars, etc, taking to the streets using the natural resources other than you own flash may make the scene looking more natural.
O - Ohmygod Factor
Enough with the cliche shots of cars and rubbish bins. Either you have a fantastic title to your deviation of such, or you start thinking of how to make the scene looking like something viewers would drop their jaws for. What may seem pretty to you may be trash to others... whereas what may seemed to be trash to you, may be a piece of jewel to your imagination-hungry viewers. You may also wanna figure out what's your Objective before hitting the streets too.
P - Photojournalism
Be mindful there's a big difference between taking a scene of everyday life in the streets versus something you'd think is photojournalism just because the latter is about seeing and reacting to what your subjects are doing. Keyword that always struck up to mind is whether the scene is newsworthy or not. If it is, go ahead and select Photojournalism > People, otherwise it's still Street.
Q - Quality vs Quantity
On a mile stretch of street, there's so many things for you to shoot. If you're on film, if you open up your imaginations, you may even spend one roll per 10 meter you walk. But that's overdoing it if you decide to upload EVERY single shot you produced that day. Visual satisfaction comes from seeing something others may have not before. You may wanna come up with a series if you decide to post anywhere more than 10 shots of the same street, but overwhelming us with trash is also something you might not want if you wish to keep the pageviews going on your page.
R - Rudeness
Unless you're a somebody like Henri Cartier-Bresson, going up close and personal within 2 feet of a subject and taking a head on photograph of it isn't only rude, it's not even street. It's a portrait. You might have the idea of catching your subject(s) off guard, but if you've never done this before, make sure your insurances are paid for.
S - Snapshot
Also known as Scrap on deviantArt. A large chunk of street photography done and seen here on deviantArt can probably be more fitting to sit in the Scraps. Yes, there's some discrepancies regarding what is street and what isn't. But imagine this: Would I purchase your photograph of a street corner of Blandness and Trashy and hang it on my wall in my livingroom? Do a little bit of research before you wish to meddle in this genre and think of what shots may look good on YOUR wall instead of wasting on film or pixels.
T - Thank You
Have the courage to thank the person(s) you've photographed and tell them who you are and what you're using it for. Even ask them if they wish to have a print of their photo and how to contact them, if you want. The last thing you want is when they're browsing Google Images and stumble upon a picture of them digging their nose, clicking on it, and seeing the ROFLs and LMAOs on the comments posted by other deviants, and you getting an email from the said person's lawyer asking you to either pull the picture down or pay damages.
U - Understanding
Terminology of Street on deviantArt:
Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places such as: streets, parks, malls, and other settings. Street photography is about defining everyday life.
...and on Wikipedia:
Street photography uses the techniques of straight photography in that it shows a pure vision of something, like holding up a mirror to society. This genre of photography is present in contemporary times and is usually done as black and white photographs. Street photography tends to be ironic and distanced from its subject matter and often concentrates on a single human moment, caught at a decisive or poignant moment.
V - Viewfinder
Use it or not, it's up to you. If you do, you're deliberately looking for something to shoot on. Use it on your hip, you'll have to somewhat "calculate" the angle on where you want framed. You have added advantages if you're on a digital camera. On film, you'll really wanna have a stronger understanding of your lens, how it works, and oh, shooting wide would help. Learning how to look into the viewfinder without closing your other eye too much adds more awareness of your surroundings in case something you may not have noticed earlier started to walk into your frame.
W - Watch Out
Walking on the street with your camera dangling on your shoulder is like a soldier not on his guard on the front line of war. Keep your camera turned on (no, not in a sexual way), set the aperture mode to your preference, lens on AF, and hold the camera by the grips if it's an SLR. That way you lesson the nanoseconds used when you see something out there to raise your hand to your face, cup the viewfinder to your eye, use the other hand to hold the lens and focus, put the finger on the shutter release, blah blah blah...
X - X-Files
Those who know me knows I love to play with "making the strange familiar, and the familiar strange" and street isn't an exception. The Truth is Out There on the clothes line hanging from the windows of an apartment, or on the pair of shoe left behind on the pavement, or of a silhouette of a long haired hobo that looked like an old woman shopping under a bridge.. Be creative. What you see is not often what we'd get.
Y - Yours
[thank you Scott, again].. Your shot is yours to keep. Its your own style, and at your own time and space. Emulating others can get you somewhere, but taking a picture of a picture of a picture is just overdoing it. We want to see originality. We want to find a fresh pair of eyes. We don't wanna see another Ansel Adam wanabe. Be yourself. Be your own style.
Z - Zoom
There should never be any worry for what kind of zoom lens you use. If you're a cowardly chicken, a telephoto would help. If you have the balls, a wide angle. If you're on a sugar trip, try fish eye! A 50mm prime fixed lens can do to. That's if you've all got the money saved from all those Happy Meals you skipped. Otherwise, a kit lens suffice. Holding too much expensive stuffs make you look more like a journalist or paparazzi rather than a hobbyist. You will also feel more at ease when your surroundings are comfortable with your presence. If you plan on making money from your works, start small, and work your way up with your gears.
In collaboration with `straightfromcamera.