There are many definitions of street photography. It’s not a genre of photography that I have ever set out intentionally to do, like getting up in the morning or set out in the late afternoon and hit the streets with the sole purpose of capturing some images of interesting subjects, specifically, people.
However, when I am travelling I always have my camera with me and while out in the streets walking or sight-seeing, I am tempted to do some street photography but it is not an easy thing to do, for me at least.
I have read about various methods, like for instance, shooting from the hips, to avoid the subjects noticing you. Use a compact camera, like a mirrorless Fuji, Sony, Olympus or Leica so that you would not appear too threatening to your subjects. It seems that a big DSLR is a big no, no.
I was in Hatyai, Thailand recently and thought that I would hit the streets and try my hands at street photography. I had my Nikkon D5500 and the following lenses with me, the Nikkor 50mm f1.8g, the Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5g and the 24-120mm f4.
Not the ideal camera and lens set-up I supposed. Anyway, I started off photographing the streets (with people in it of course) but after going through some of the images, I realised this simply won’t do. So I thought that I will try the following methods.
First Method : Shooting with the Zoom Lens
I tried shooting with my Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5g and the 24-120mm f4 paired with the Nikon D5500 which gives me an effective focal length of 27mm to 180mm. Here are the results.
Well, the photos above does suggest that it is possible to get some decent street photos using a zoom lens. But, there is clearly no connections whatsoever between the photographer and the subjects, some appears to be sneaky shots at best.
Second Method : Find ways to communicate with locals
I was standing on the sidewalk aiming my camera aimlessly at some buildings when this gentlemen walks by and said something to me. By his demeanour, I sense it was a friendly remark and I pointed to my camera and said “picture” and he stopped, looked at me and give the thumbs up. I immediately seized the opportunity.
I was sitting on the kerb having a cigarette break, a short distance away from this gentlemen who is a motorcycle “taxi” operator. In Hatyai, this is the cheapest form of transportation (cheaper than the tuk-tuk), used by the locals a lot. He asked me for a cigarette and I gave one to him. I then said “picture” and he started posing for me – quid pro quod, I guess.
There was some display of old military vehicles on the street in front of the Centara Hotel and a lot of people were taking selfies of themselves.
I saw this gentlemen and lady trying to take selfie of themselves and of course, I offered my services and this is what I got in return.
On the sunday when I was there, there was also a brass band from one of the local schools, out to give a public performance, for the benefits of tourists, I think. They were to assemble in front of the Centara Hotel and march through some of the streets in Hatyai. I strike out a conversation with some of the students and the teachers and asked whether I can take some photos of them and they said yes. Here are the results.
I have asked for an email address from one of the students and have since sent them some of the photographs.
I still have a very long way to go to become an accomplished photographer. Nevertheless, it was a really good learning experience for me, my first real attempt at street photography.
All photos shot with the Nikon D5500 and lenses used were the Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5g and Nikkor 24-120mm f4g.