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    Street portraits versus street photography: what is the difference?

    The post Street Portraits vs Street Photography: what’s the difference? first appeared on Digital Photography School. It is written by Simon Bond.

    street photography vs street portraits

    One of the most popular and accessible forms of photography that you can practice is street photography. In this article you will learn about one of the most important questions asked in this field of photography. That’s when do you ask someone’s permission to take his picture? The answer to that question divides street portraits versus street photography.

    Read on to find out more about both areas of street photography and how they relate to each other.

    What is street photography?

    This can be a difficult area of ​​photography to define because street portraits can easily be mistaken for street photography.

    It is also true that it is possible to practice street photography and still have permission for your subjects.

    So what distinguishes this field from photography?

    Well, the simple answer is that street photos must be natural and not staged. So what does it take to get a good street photo?

    Image: you can even use a fisheye lens for street photography. People's faces aren't real ...

    You can even use a fisheye lens for street photography. People’s faces are not really shown here, but there is a story.

    The equipment

    The camera housing that you use here is important for street photography that takes place in low-light situations where you want to use a higher ISO.

    The choice between digital single-lens reflex cameras or mirrorless cameras is personal. However, the smaller size of mirrorless cameras is an advantage.

    You really want to keep one lens, so you can keep things light while on the move. However, there is an understandable desire to use different focal lengths, so consider returning to the same location twice and with different lenses.

    So what is the ideal lens for street photography?

    Image: a 135 mm lens means that you have to be quite far away to include the context in your scene.

    A 135 mm lens means that you have to be quite far away to include the context in your scene.

    • 50 mm – This is the preferred lens of many street photographers. That is because it has a similar field of vision as the eye of a person. That field of view is also wide enough to give context to your context and you have a sufficiently large aperture with a prime lens to photograph in low light. Consider the crop factor for DSLR cameras with a crop sensor, as this will change the effective focal length of your 50 mm lens.
    • Wide angle – Then there are those photographers who would like to have more stories in their scene and will look to use even wider lenses. That can even mean a wide-angle zoom lens. You now come very close to the people you are photographing, making it harder for them to notice you.
    • Tele – On the other side of the spectrum are those who prefer to photograph remotely. This allows you to photograph the scene without the chance that people pose, because they are less likely to see you. On the other hand, you compress the scene. If you do not stand still further back, you will not see much context in your photo.
    Image: Market's create great locations for street photography. They are even better at night, wh ...

    Market makes great locations for street photography. They are even better at night when there is more atmosphere.

    The location

    Street photography is the exploration of your urban environment, so it must happen in this setting. The photo can happen outside the street itself, for example in a covered market, but this would still be considered street photography.

    The best place to practice this is a place that allows for sufficient moments of recording. With that in mind, locations like markets, train stations or main streets would work.

    The subject

    Now that you know the location for street photography, the subject is to think about. There are lots of photos that you can take from the location suggested above that are not street photos.

    A photo that only shows fruit is more a food detail photo than a street photo. That said, should every street photo contain the face of a person? The answer is, no, it isn’t. But there must be a narrative element.

    A photo that only shows people’s feet can certainly contain another story. In most cases, however, you want to see a person do his daily life, and that means his face.

    Image: in a street portrait your subject will come into full contact with the camera.

    In a street portrait your subject will come into full contact with the camera.

    What is a street portrait?

    A street portrait shows the person’s face. It is almost certain, and it will be taken on the street. It has an authentic element. You do not bring a model and you never know whether the person you are asking will give you permission to take their photo.

    Once you have received permission, you can manage many elements of the photo. You may be able to ask your subject to stand in front of an interesting background, turn their face to a light source or control their facial expression.

    The equipment

    This type of photo is re-taken with a mirror-free mirror or DSLR camera of good quality. The lens must be a prime lens with a large aperture so that you have the choice to blur the background. However, you do not need to use bokeh when you can determine where your subject is.

    The type of lens that you can use is the same as using portrait photographers with a model. A prime lens of 50 mm, 85 mm or 135 mm is therefore ideal.

    You might even consider using off-camera flash to further control your photo – this is, after all, a posed photo.

    The location

    This will be a location where people come together and continue their daily lives. You are likely to make a combination of street portraits and street photos at the same location. Therefore, consult the above advice for locations for street photography, since this is broadly the same for street portraits.

    Image: In this photo I asked the man to go to a better position for the light.

    In this photo I asked the man to go to a better position for the light.

    The subject

    Now you are looking for people who have personality in their appearance. Look for people who really tell the story of where they are. Do this by the clothes they wear, the imperfections in their face and the backgrounds that you can find behind them.

    A crucial aspect of this type of photo is obtaining permission.

    You must decide which personality types are most likely to give you a positive answer. You also need to adjust the way you approach people, because different people can react differently to different ways you can break the ice. No matter how you do this, always stay professional and polite. Maybe you bring a portfolio of your work and a business card to give yourself extra weight.

    Model releases

    It is worth mentioning model releases when it comes to photographing people. Although it is true that in many countries you are allowed to photograph people in public places, you can only use those photos for editorial and personal use. You may want to use your photos more commercially.

    If that is the case, you need a model release. Even if you do not use the photos for commercial reasons, it is always good practice to get a model release.

    In the case of street portraits, this should be easier because you are already talking to the person in question.

    Image: you can use the background for a street portrait, so that it adds context to the rest of the photo ...

    You can use the background for a street portrait so that it adds context to the rest of the photo.

    Street portraits versus street photography, time to decide.

    Now you know your street portraits versus street photography.

    What type of photography do you prefer, both as a photographer and as a viewer? How often do you ask people on the street for permission before they take the photo?

    Do you have a favorite set of equipment for one of these photography genres?

    Here at the digital photography school we would like to hear your opinion, so share them in the comments.

    Also share your photos with street photography or street portraits in the comments section.

    The post Street Portraits vs Street Photography: what’s the difference? first appeared on Digital Photography School. It is written by Simon Bond.

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