Photo Notebook

Shooting Street

There’s probably a better term for it, but by shooting street I mean getting primed to take photos more quickly while walking around.

Doing this was an unexpected huge mental shift in how I thought about taking photos. It’s difficult to overstate.

Here are the changes I made:

What Normal Shooting Street
Camera position Waist Held in hand
Camera strap Across shoulders Wrapped around wrist
Camera state Off On
Lens cap Variable* Off
Min shutter speed 1/125s 1/250s
Aperture 1.7 1.7
EV ??? Variable, often -1**

* With a filter and a hood, the lens cap is rarely needed anyway.

** I don't have a good answer to the exposure setting (EV). I just don't want whites to clip. Setting lower prevents this, but it's still something I need to adjust based on lighting. And, like aperture, I still regularly forget that I've set it too low.


In other words, walking around with the camera always on, held in your hand, primed to go.

The first few times I tried this, it was a rush. It gave me energy. It made me walk faster, made me almost walk around hungrily to take photos. I took more risks, snapped photos of insides of shops and people on the street, things I would never normally do.

Being primed like this also means I take more photos overall. I now think of taking photos as an active process. Not just walking around, not just searching for shots, but trying things out. Lowering the barrier to taking a photo meant I experimented more.

And, given how bad my photos have started out, more practice is a good thing.

Shooting only walks

I’ve noticed the difference in my focus between going on a walk with the purpose of shooting photos, versus carrying my camera—even in street-shooting mode—while walking to do something else.

It’s less about which shots I miss. I’m sure this is still a factor—I won’t realize how many I don’t spot and take.

Instead, what I’ve noticed is how much I’m aware of my settings. When I’m just shooting, I’m adjusting enough that I’m more cognizant of what my settings are, and I think I’m less likely to take photos with my aperture, autofocus, or exposure set to something it shouldn’t be.

This sounds silly, but when I’m trying to get somewhere or do something, I don’t want to bother others by focusing on my camera and not them. So even if I’m just grabbing quick snaps, I have a higher error rate than if I’m out alone with the intent of shooting.