London Street Shooting

19/07/2011

This one-day workshop was a birthday present so I took the train up to London to be at Westminister Tube Stationat 10|:30 to meet my tutor, Lou Williams. Three other photography students joined us and we pulled out our cameras and set straight to work.

Lou’s maxims for good street photography are:

1.  Think like a spider. Set yourself up somewhere, act like every one else, e.g. a tourist, keep your camera ready and snap every chance you get.

2. Shoot in speed priority, about 1/250s most of the time, increasing if you are tracking

3. Get as close as you can. If you are cropping a lot, then you aren’t close enough or you are using the wrong lens.

4. Be respectful of peop[le’s customs and space. This became particularly important later in the day when we shot skateboarders. We were in their word and it was our job to stay out of the way,

5. Is possible, include some kind of marker, e.g. Westminister, in your photos so you don’t wind up with a lot of pictures of people you don’t know and can’t place.

I took somewhere around 190 photos. You do a lot of shooting and a lot of culling. I had continual trouble getting close enough. I have relied on a VR18-270mm lens for too long. Lou recommended I switch to a 18-105mm or a 50mm prime lens. I chose the latter and bought one as soon as I got home,

The weather ranged from sublime to absolutely horrible. Whenthe sun wasn’t shining, we had lashings of rain; however, Lou explained that rain offers anonyminity. No one watches you in the rain. Furthermore, umbrellas offer great color contrast and interest.

We started at Westminister, crossed the bridge to the London Eye and made our way toward the Festival Hall where we dried out briefly then went on to an exhibit of beah huts on the South Bank and to the skateboarders. The latter presented an almost impossible challenge because the site was dark, but evey time the skaters made a good jump it was right into blazing daylight. Our only hope was to capture them in silhouette, but we weren’t in position to do that.

This shot illustrates the weather we had. The sky was so dark and threatening that it made for lovely photos when we weren’t drowning.

 

The beach huts all had peep holes so they offered great opportunities to catch people unawares.

 

 

Preparation for this shoot included finding and reserving the workshop, getting the train tickets and hotel, getting myself to Westminister and taking a lot of rain gear for myself and the camera. Also a Red Bull because we didn’t stop for tea and an energy bar because there was no time for lunch. In addition, I had to locate a tube map because I left mine at home.

The best preparation for future street shooting will be to put myself in the mindset. Remember to make like a spider and to act like everyone else so I won’t stand out, to keep my camera on all the time and carry an extra battery. nd to stay dry.

The worst problem with these photos came as I made the selection. I accidentally deleted the best ones! And they are gone, baby, gone. Good lesson in that, too.

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About idaswears

I left the U.S. for Cornwall 4 years ago. Since then I have spent my time writing, walking and studying the English. It's not always easy being a Yank in Cornwall, but it's always fun and rewarding.
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