Street Photography and the Great Beyond of Individual Existence

by: Sergio Burns

Street Photography and the Great Beyond of Individual Existence

Light, shadow and colour, not to mention brightly decorated trees, sparkling street illuminations and snow? Well, maybe snow. Okay, you guessed, well done you, yes, yes, yes, it is Christmas.

At this time of year I like to sift through my favourite memories of the previous 11 months and pick out, for me, the best moments. In music, Britney Stoney’s O.D. just oozed class and was featured on the Churchill insurance advert with the skateboarding dog – I actually loved her video too. My favourite book was Brian Merchant’s deep research of Apple : The One Device – The Secret History of the iPhone. The iPhone? Well let me tell you that the iPhone has the best selling camera in the world.

I also had the privilege of interviewing and writing features on some of the best street photographers around in 2019. Great for me, because as well as someone who likes to practice street photography I also like to think quite a bit about it, to let it tick over in my mind, to think about what street photographers are trying to do, and I have a theory they are, in some existential way, all really trying to find themselves. All looking for their own personal Idaho.

Every year I look at a lot of photographs, which, for me, is sheer joy. Each photograph offers a chance to work out who the people are, what they are doing, where are they going to/coming from?

With the above in mind, this year I have curated five photographs which, for whatever reason, resonated with me and I wanted to talk about.

In 2019 I have looked at some really great shots, and those I have listed below are excellent examples of street photography. I am not saying these are the BEST photographs of 2019, but these are five shots which captured my imagination and I want to share with you.

In November I interviewed Yiannis Yiasaris, an astute, thoughtful shooter whose Coca Cola project absolutely captivated me. The documentary-street photography set was centred around a series of shots Yiannis had taken which somehow related to the Coca Cola brand. It is a very…sociological, existential and psychologically corporate project.

The world in motion stalked by powerful representations of a fizzy drink.

The contemporary capitalist world as part of a massive movie set, where one raindrop, frozen in time, is stolen from the biggest ocean in the world.

Copyrightⓒ Yiannis Yiasaris

A bearded man in a blue turban sitting in a Domino’s Pizza is turned toward the street photographer. The world beyond the multinational restaurant chain reflected in the glass. Office skyscrapers, symbolic of corporate success reach toward the heavens, the branded universe reflected in the windows of the pizza house, and in reflection in the top right hand corner of the photograph the word ‘enjoy’.

So, ‘enjoy’ what? Why Coke of course! And then the soundtrack : Holidays are coming…

Copyrightⓒ Adam Miller

Like the solitary man in Yiannis Yiasaris’ photograph, New York’s Adam Miller also chooses a lone figure. A man caught in a blizzard, a newspaper tucked neatly under his armpit, maybe he’s been reading a review of Brian Merchant’s book on Apple?

Who is he? Certainly sharply dressed and young(ish). A hard working executive type, heading home to his wife and kids, or maybe he has just left his mistress and is now cursing staying so long when he knew the weather was closing in? ‘Where are all the New York cabs when you want one?’

This is a super lonely photograph, whoever the man is, wherever he is going to and from is irrelevant. He now finds himself in the teeth of a storm beneath a street light somewhere in New York.

For me he looks as if he is just about to disappear beneath the snow which might be a metaphor related to his job – drowning in work? Help me here, but, for some reason, I always associate this image with Radiohead’s How To Disappear Completely (which is from the band’s Kid A album, 2000)

Copyrightⓒ ILAN BURLA

Ilan Burla can always be counted on to lighten the mood. His photograph of two ladies, I assume, heading from a local beach made me smile. This is one photograph I really like.

His use of the back view, makes me think they are moving away from something – enough sunbathing for one day? But look at the swim costumes? Psychedelic street, acid street, and the low slung…bum bag (literally) and hint of a tattoo on the leg of the woman to our left draws us in. The phone in the palm of the lady to the right – has she read The One Device?

Life.

Notice also how other pedestrians are drawn to the ladies, and the guy to the left, looking at the photograph, with his camera poised ready. Street photographer taking a photograph of a street photographer taking…yeah yeah we get it…too complex…

Copyrightⓒ Gustavo Minas

Equally intriguing is Gustav Minas shot of the girl with an umbrella looking down at her phone – her iPhone? – while a blurry Spiderman swings toward her.

The girl is a meme of contemporary existence. How much time do we spend looking down? An awful lot. It made me wonder how much time we spent on our phones or looking at our phones in any one day?

Her girlfriend, just out of focus is looking over toward her perhaps seeking her attention while the Spiderman is swinging toward her to let her know her friend would like to engage her in conversation.

This is the city as that giant movie set. Light hitting the street is reflected yellowish from the rainwater.

Copyrightⓒ Gonzalo Goméz

Lady Looking Back and Nun Gonzalo Goméz and Gustavo Rosas

Why, is the first word that springs to mind when I look at this photograph. Why is the lady with the knee length sexy boots looking back? What is the nun, to her right as we look at the photograph, thinking or doing, or is she speaking? ‘Dios mio!’ (Oh my God), Spanish because the street photographers this photograph is attributed to are Uruguayan.

Has someone wolf-whistled. Maybe the lady in the boots is part of the ‘Yo Tambien’ (Me Too) movement, maybe the nun is also offended. With one gesture a man (and we presume he is a man) has offended a young liberated woman as well as a woman wedded to Jesus Christ – which somehow seems fitting for Christmas.

The above are a few photographs I curated from the interviews I have undertaken and features I have written this year.

Good as they are I am not claiming they are THE best photographs of the year, only that they intrigued me enough to want to write about them.

Maybe these photographs say something different to you. That’s great…

Right now I am listening to REM’s Shiny Happy People. What else would anyone be doing at 9.30 on a Friday evening only days away from Christmas?

40 Inspiring Examples of Street Photography

by: Stephanie Kay-Kok

Street photography can be either easy or difficult to pick up, depending on your perspective. On the one hand, you have a wealth of interesting subjects to photograph. You don’t need to plan a photo shoot or buy special gear to get awesome shots. If you live or work in a city, great street photography is right at your front door.

Bahadır Bermek – sweetcorn seller Turkey – Istanbul – Taksim

On the other hand, street photography comes with ethical challenges that other photography genres don’t have. Questions of privacy and respect are often discussed, as not everyone appreciates being photographed unknowingly.

Street photography can be beautiful, fascinating, and even necessary for photojournalism. But it can also be obnoxious and disrespectful, causing anger and resentment. In some areas, you could even get into trouble for taking street photos.

For example, France has strict privacy laws, which includes street photography. And in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, street photos of sex workers are forbidden. You could try it, but your camera might end up getting thrown in a canal. (Try one of these beautiful Amsterdam neighborhoods instead.)

In many places, though, street photographers are given a lot of freedom. They can legally take photos without asking permission as long as they’re on public property where privacy can’t be expected.

But then, the law isn’t everything. As photographer Jamie Windsor says in this thought-provoking video about street photography, “Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s ethical.”

When you start dabbling in street photography, you have to consider what your ethical standards are. For instance, is it okay to publish humiliating photos of people? Should you ask for permission before taking photos of children? Are any photos off-limits from an ethical standpoint?

These are tough questions you’ll have to answer for yourself. But regardless of your standpoint, here are some techniques and ideas you can apply to your own street photography.

Street Photography

The following ideas and techniques can help you take stunning street shots that are candid and authentic, yet also respectful.

Play with silhouettes and shadows.

Shadows and silhouettes are classic elements in street photography. They’re mysterious and interesting, yet familiar and commonplace. You can find good silhouettes and shadows everywhere in a city. As a bonus, they help disguise the identities of the people you’re photographing, so they can remain anonymous.

Ömer Diyelim – Shadows

Danny Santos – Untitled

Giuseppe Milo – Sunset in Tiraspol – Moldova – Street photography

Joao Cruz Santos – The lord of the streets

Shirren Lim – walk in the light.

Capture the environment.

Much of street photography focuses on people, but the surrounding environment is no less important. Like including people in architectural photos, including architecture and other surrounding elements in your street photos can help provide context and depth, making your images more powerful.

Gokulnath – Blue street

Shirren Lim – .sunset in nepal.

Bryon Lippincott – Silhouette and Cloud

Fabio Boer – Violinist in Lubiana

Frame your subject.

Framing is a compositional technique used to guide the viewers’ attention to the main subject. It’s like putting a frame around a piece of artwork to make the artwork stand out. Only in photography, this frame doesn’t have to be a four-sided box. It can be anything that highlights your subject by surrounding it on one or more sides.

Giuseppe Milo – Under the snow – Dublin, Ireland – Street photography

Michiel Gransjean – Untitled

Amlan Sanyal – MUMBAI

Nimit Nigam – Blue Morning….

Use juxtaposition.

Juxtaposition is when you place two subjects close to each other, so the viewer will naturally compare them. Of all the techniques in this list, juxtaposition is perhaps the trickiest. You have to find a comparison worth photographing, and then you have to wait for both subjects to be positioned just right.

And then there’s the question of respect. Sometimes, juxtaposition is used to misrepresent people or mock the culture being photographed. However, you can also create humorous and interesting juxtapositions without this mockery, as the photos below demonstrate.

For more examples of juxtaposition in street photography, check out the work of Ilan Ben Yehuda, who uses humorous yet insightful juxtaposition in his street photos of a Jewish community in Jerusalem.

Adam B – London 2018

Ferry Noothout – Hi there….I am real!!!

Eric Kim – London, 2014

Find symmetry.

Symmetry can give a street photo a sense of organization and harmony in the middle of a chaotic city. While you might not spot exact symmetry very often, you can find elements of symmetry quite easily. Consider the symmetry of streets, windows, stairs, and other urban features which may seem unremarkable at first, until they’re composed perfectly in a photo.

M. Accarino – Monotony

Dom Crossley – Ofxord Street Sunrise

Giuseppe Milo – FEAR – Dublin, Ireland – Color street photography

ands78 – Untitled

Experiment with motion blur.

Cities are constantly active. Day and night, you see movement on the roads and sidewalks. Cars, cyclists, trams, pedestrians, buses… There are a lot of moving subjects to photograph. Instead of freezing these subjects in a moment, try working with motion blur, so your photos capture the relentless energy of the city.

Bahadır Bermek – Look at me Turkey – Istanbul – Taksim

Amine Fassi – Street Peek

Bahadır Bermek – Panning Turkey – Istanbul

Tuncay – wet night

Hemzah Ahmed – Eight o’Clock…

Empathize with individual people.

Candid photography and street photography often go hand-in-hand. While some street photos are posed (like the Humans of New York portraits), the majority capture genuine moments, expressions, and emotions. This authenticity is one thing that makes street photography so compelling.

To get nice candid shots in street photography, you’ll need to work on taking shots without being noticed. (For tips on that, check out our post: 8 Ways to Get Candids Without Being Noticed.)

Besides going unnoticed, you’ll get the most meaningful candid shots if you empathize with the individuals you’re photographing. Step into their world and see what they’re seeing. This empathy will deepen your understanding of the situation and allow you to capture the real picture.

Ramesh SA – Light

saddarkness – proud grandma

Ferry Noothout – Relax with a good book in Lisbon….

Mario Nipoti Ranzini – The wait

Watch social interactions.

Emotions are most likely to come out when people are interacting. Whether it’s the joy of friends laughing, the boredom of kids shopping with their parents, or the love of a mother and daughter walking together, you can capture a wide range of emotions when you watch people interacting. Every conversation is a story waiting to be photographed.

Ferry Noothout – You can walk under it…believe me.

Ferry Noothout – Meeting point and a chit chat

Ferry Noothout – Mother and daughter in Philadelphia…

Ferry Noothout – Waiting is boring….

Look for unique scenes and situations.

When all else fails, look for something unusual. As every urbanite knows, unique scenes happen every day in a city. If you walk around for a while, you’re sure to find something interesting to photograph.

However, if you prefer certainty over spontaneity, search online for local events and peculiar city sights, then plan your photo walk around those. At the very least, it’ll give you a good place to begin.

Ferry Noothout – With Christmas Charles Dickens is back in town…

Nimit Nigam – Hawa Ka Jhokha…

Matthew Johnson – Precautions

Xavier D. Buendia – The beauty of street photography

Franck-Emanuel GOGUER – (Bordeaux – France) Unreal

Many of the above photos were selected from our fantastic Flickr community. Next time you take some cool street shots, post your photos in our Flickr group or tag #thephotoargus on Instagram, so we can appreciate your work!

Frame Within a Frame Photography: A Guide

A Post By: Kevin Landwer-Johan

Frame within a frame photography is a creative technique that works in many genres of photography. But what is it, and how can you use it for amazing photos?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at this composition “rule” – which you can apply very obviously or even very subtly in your photographs.

So if you’re ready to create some unique images…

…then let’s get started!

What is frame within a frame photography?

Frame within a frame photography is all about positioning your main subject so it’s framed by something else within the scene. 

You can use anything you like for this. For instance, you might use a full rectangular frame, like a door or a window. You could even use an actual picture frame.

But frame within a frame photography is not limited to structures that completely surround your subject. 

You can incorporate body parts and tree limbs as frames. Using rocks, plastic bags, or mannequins can be an effective way to add a frame within a frame. These things may occur naturally, or you can bring them in as props to include in your compositions.

Frames in front and behind

Typically, we think of a frame that surrounds a subject as being in front of it.

But it doesn’t need to be.

Because you can often effectively frame your subject with something that’s behind them.

Here are three examples to illustrate what I mean:

In this first photo of the welder (above), I’ve used a hole cut in the steel to encircle the worker. There are also more holes in the panels behind him, though it’s the front hole that acts as the main frame.

In this second shot, however, while the gate pillars do frame the young monks, the contrast of the shadow on the wall also helps to frame the main subject.

Here’s a third example where I have used frames both in front of and behind my subject. By lining up the front and rear windows in the train carriage, I have managed to carefully frame the young woman.

Depth in frame within a frame photography

The woman on the train (above) is also an example of how using frames within a frame can help create an enhanced sense of depth in your compositions.

This becomes even more exaggerated when you use a shallow depth of field. Blurring the frame shows that the frame and the subject are at different distances from the camera (and it also helps draw the viewer’s eye to your subject!).

For instance, look at the photo below. The white pillars on either side of the dancer and the circular shape behind her head frame her well. And the shallow depth of field helps create actual depth in the image.

Note, however, that you can use frame within a frame photography in circumstances where you convey no sense of depth.

Take a look at the photo above. Are the people walking in front of or behind the large palm trees? The trees create a nice frame, but because the key elements are silhouetted, there’s no visual information to reference depth.

Composing with existing and created frames

Some frames are more obvious than others. Unfortunately, more obvious frames tend to be a bit too common in photographic compositions – to the point that they become clichéd.

So instead of using obvious frames, access your imagination. Look for unusual elements you can incorporate into your compositions. These can sometimes create interesting frames around your subjects.

Frames don’t have to be physical; you can always use light and shadow as a frame. Look for areas of contrast that surround what you’re focusing on. Carefully position yourself and your subject to maximize the effect.

Out-of-focus elements can also be used to create frames. When you have an object in the foreground that doesn’t form a complete frame around your subject, simply choose a wide aperture setting and make sure the foreground object is close enough to your camera. You’ll get a rather abstract form that can frame the subject and help lead the viewer’s eye into your picture.

Take a look at the image below. Do you see how the blurred vegetation creates a frame around my subject?

Making use of what’s around you to create a frame can be very effective. Here, I have used the model herself to make a frame within a frame:

Look for frames and you’ll find them

Practice looking for frames, and you’ll begin to see them everywhere. Study the work of other photographers and see how they work with frames. Do a quick image search online for examples, and you’ll soon see how imaginative some photographers are with frames!

Then go out with a camera. Like anything, the more you do frame within a frame photography, the easier it becomes. Set yourself the task of creating a frame within a frame every time you head out to shoot.

That way, you’ll begin to train yourself to see situations where you can incorporate this compositional technique into your work.

Frame within a frame photography: Final words

Frame within a frame compositions are a great way to focus the viewer’s eye on your subject – and a great way to add depth to your photos.

So make sure you get out and practice! As I explained, the more you practice, the sooner you’ll be creating stunning frame within a frame photos.

Now over to you:

Have you ever tried frame within a frame photography? Do you have any framing tips? What are your favorite frames? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Surreal scenes and broken dreams: 2021’s best street photography – in pictures

From a giant eyeball on the subway to a winged dog at a wedding, here’s the year’s best photography at street level

There is No Bad Light for Street Photography

By: Valerie Jardin

One of the advantages of being a street photographer is that you certainly don’t need to get up before dawn to catch the good light. Harsh sunlight, nighttime and rainy days are only a few of the most desired situations on the streets. Getting up too early, before people are out and about, may actually be counter-productive in your search for the decisive moment.

The key is to use light, any light, to your advantage

Any time of day or night, be aware of the quality and quantity of light, and look for interesting light sources and subjects.

Nighttime photography

The night adds a new dimension to your street photography. There are so many interesting light sources to work with such as street lights, traffic lights, car lights, neon signs, etc. Even bright Smartphone screens illuminating people’s faces can make for a fun shot. Learn to focus manually for night photography. Even if the auto focus works in most conditions, practice switching to manual focus rapidly, it may save the shot!

It’s true that a simple slider action in post-processing can bring out details from the shadows, but that doesn’t mean that you should always use it. This is a common mistake that I see too often when the night scene starts to look like it was shot in the daytime. Let the shadows fall where they do and embrace the atmosphere and mystery of the night.

Don’t worry about noise, especially if you shoot black and white. First, you can now push the ISO of most cameras to very high numbers with very little noise. Second, the little bit of grain in your pictures will enhance the mood and atmosphere. Likewise, embrace the motion blur and the slightly out of focus shots. Who says that a good image has to be tack sharp? What’s the point of technical perfection if your subject is boring, or the story non-existent?

Silhouettes

The key to successful silhouette photography is to find a well-defined subject. Remember that not everyone makes an interesting street photography subject and the same principle applies to silhouettes. The shape of the body should be well defined, capturing the right gesture is even more important to achieving a strong image. Many elements can add interest as well, such as umbrellas, bicycles, hats, etc. Watch for obstructions in front of and behind your subject, and if they are moving, make sure you don’t catch them in between steps. Setting your camera in burst mode will increase your chances of getting the right gesture. Remember that your subject is not the background, which can act as a distraction, so do not be afraid to blow out the highlights behind your silhouettes unless it is an integral part of the story.

In order to shoot successful silhouettes, you need to take control of your camera first. Instead to going through all the steps here, check out: How to Photograph Silhouettes in 8 Easy Steps.

Shooting into the bright sun

Shooting into the sun when it’s low in the sky can create some dramatic shots. Add a sunburst effect when possible. The starburst effect is best achieved by setting your camera at a small aperture and hiding the sun partially behind a structure or person. Experiment with exposure compensation to get a nice dark silhouette and once you’re happy with the result, wait for the right subject to enter your frame, or the right action to happen.

Strong shadows

Street photographers love shadows. Similarly to silhouettes, not every shadow works. It should be really dark and well defined. The surface on which it shows will also play a part in the result. It’s important to strategize and position yourself to get the best possible shot, the shadow may hit a wall next to the subject for instance. Long shadows are also really interesting when shot from a higher vantage point. Sometimes it’s all about the shadow, and the subject casting it does not even need to be fully included. This method, if well executed, will add an element of mystery.

Reflections

Sunlight can create some really cool reflections in windows, puddles, or other surfaces and add interest to your street photography. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

High contrast situations

Harsh sunlight and deep shadows can create ideal situations for the discerning street photographer.  The sun comes out after the rain? Even better! The wet pavement will add yet another dimension and interest.

Dappled light

One of my favorite daylight situations in street photography is when I find a nice source of dappled light. Remember that even if the situation is ideal, not every person walking down the street will make an interesting subject. It’s often a game of patience…

Rainy days

As long as you protect your gear (and yourself), rainy days can provide some of the best street photography opportunities. People on the streets will behave very differently when it’s raining, creating some interesting situations. Umbrellas also make for good props. There are also ways to embrace the rain by focussing selectively through windows, car windshields, etc.

Open shade for street portraits

If you enjoy doing street portraits, then the same simple rules that you apply for any other portrait will help you achieve the best result. Once you’ve asked your subject for a portrait, you might as well go the extra step and ask them to move slightly, or even cross the street for the most flattering light. Look for open shade to avoid harsh shadows on their face.

Golden and blue hour

Of course, there are also beautiful photographs of people to be made in the early morning and late evening hours, but always remember that there is no bad light!

Conclusion

Never use the quality of light as an excuse not to hit the streets. Making any light work in your favor is part of the fun and also the best way to improve your skills and get some cool shots. Have fun!