Street photography has been around for decades — way back in the early years of World War, famine, hunger, and financial crisis. It even sparked several debates whether it’s legal or ethical to do so. Although these questions remain unanswered, a lot of people have been more invested in street photography lately.
It may have started that way but it didn’t stay for long. Today, it’s not just limited to photojournalists, it even hits casual and creative photographers alike. But the real essence of this photography genre is still intact: it is thrilling, challenging, and takes a lot of patience because it should be candid and in perfect timing, not staged.
Canon Philippines gave us an opportunity to learn more about shooting in streets with the guide of popular photojournalist, Jilson Tiu. We roamed around the streets of Intramuros and got a glimpse of life inside the walls.
It hasn’t been long since Canon released the EOS RP in the Philippines. Just a refresher, it is the early successor of the EOS R, which is Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless camera. It is also their second mirrorless camera with a smaller body and introduced other cut-down features to make it (a little bit) cheaper.
Canon has come a long way in making and manufacturing cameras. My first camera is a 60D, which was a prosumer king during its time. My initial hands-on with their newest mirrorless camera felt familiar. They have managed to keep the design language in a smaller form factor.
Enough with the technicals. As someone who has been into photography since high school, I can tell that street photography is specifically not my forte. But this doesn’t mean I won’t challenge myself. I learned so many things during this photo walk — so I’m giving you eight tips when shooting around the streets, together with my EOS RP experience.
1. Learn the basics
They are called “basics” for a reason. You should not go to war without learning how to shoot a gun — the same principle applies in photography. Learning how shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and aperture work before you shoot is essential because you will not (and should not) rely on Auto Mode, especially that you are going to use DSLR or mirrorless cameras when shooting, which is a lot more versatile than using point-and-shoot cameras.
Other photography jargons such as Depth of Field (DOF), focal length, white balance, exposure bracketing, should follow along the way. Composing shots is also part of the basics, including placing subjects within the frame, exercising Rule of Thirds and/or Golden Ratio, and more. With the existence and vastness of the internet, searching for tutorials shouldn’t be a problem for most.
More over, technicals should come along the way. Even the lens you pick affects the quality of shots you take. Prime, kit, telephoto lenses, you name them. Photography isn’t as easy as it seems, but trust me, knowing the basics will be one of your biggest achievements and advances as an aspiring photographer (or photojournalist).
2. Look for human elements
Imagine walking around the streets without any human element, do you think street photography would still make sense? Human element creates several stories in the shots you capture. Street photography isn’t literally talking about capturing the streets, it’s more about capturing the culture between people and the streets you pass by.
One misconception about street photography is when photographers take their posing models as subjects, and street as a background element — put simply, that’s not street photography.
3. Know one’s story
To whoever is reading this, I would admit that I’m socially awkward. A big chunk of me being an introvert holds me back from talking to people. If you are really focused on doing street photography, this tip is very important in establishing connections and making relationships as you shoot more individuals in the long run.
Once you find at least one (or several) human element/s you want to capture, it shouldn’t stop there. Talk to them. Ask them about life, how is their day going, other questions to follow. These questions may sound simple but it helps in creating a sense of belongingness, even if you are both strangers to each other. It would also feel authentic when you talk to them more, even when you are both focused on the different things you’re doing.
Taking the shot above as an example. Although he is busy with his job as a barber, he still entertained our group because we took the initiative to speak with him. Talking to people contributes to the candidness of the photograph. It did not disrupt the things we all did — he even enjoyed the small talk with our group. Let your single photograph say a thousand words to those who will see it.
4. Respect all things around you
Part of having moral ascendancy is respecting each and everything around you — not limited to life forms such as people, animals, and plants, even non-living things alike.
In this particular shot, an old man got mad at our group for suddenly capturing this dog. After trying to ask for permission, he then decided to let us shoot. There are times when people are not amused seeing cameras pointed at them nor at the things they own. If it happens to you, respect their privacy and decision. You should not argue and you definitely need to walk away before you get yourself in trouble.
5. Stop making poverty an aesthetic
I have seen a lot of street photographers who are making poverty as an aesthetic. In connection to tips two and three, showing one’s respect is not imitating the way they live or how they interact with other people.
Exhibit A: You want to do a staged photoshoot with models pretending they are beggars.
Exhibit B: You were awed when you saw two siblings sleeping along the footbridge. You decided to take photos of them and shared it on Social Media without their consent.
Social Media exposure would raise awareness about their situation, but do you think it would make them happy if they knew they were photographed without consent? If no talk or story-telling happened in between, it is not street photography anymore. The essence of knowing their life nor story never even happened. It is unethical to make one’s living condition a part of your Instagram or Bēhance portfolio — so is exaggerating one’s situation as a staged shoot.
6. Post-processing is normal, #NoFilter shots are not bragging rights
Cameras and lenses are not created equally. Although my experience with the Canon EOS RP is outstanding and its RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens does the job well, there were times that the shot I took was not aligned to what I wanted the outcome to be.
Post-processing isn’t cheating. There’s nothing wrong with fixing your photography mistake (or worse, a hardware mistake). In fact, it already takes place the moment you press the shutter button on your camera — that is why people should not make #NoFilter shots a big deal. If you are one among the clumsiest users who forgot to set RAW shooting, you have no choice but to stick with your .jpg files.
Let’s say you forgot to adjust the Custom WB (White Balance) while shooting, post-processing apps can help you fix it. You can even do other processing techniques if you want to convey more feelings in your shots. It is a part of experimentation, and the values in each photo you edit are not something that’s always definite.
In this particular photo, I adjusted the curves that helped it achieve a faded look instead of deep shadows, making it feel softer with minimized shadows and contrast. I minimized the highlights because of the harsh sunlight hitting the tile bricks. I also moved the slider to the warmer side for it to look lively. Color science says that photos on the cool side feels melancholic and lifeless.
I suppose not everyone is computer-literate. There are mobile apps you can try when it comes to post-processing your shots — such as VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom Mobile, a toned-down version of the PC-based Adobe Lightroom. Take note that mobile apps may have limited functions, especially because they are free.
Reminder: Before all of you use (and abuse) the power of post-processing, you should have already understood the first tip. Not to sound like a broken record but it is about understanding the basics. Nowadays, a lot of people rely on post-processing without knowing the essentials — maybe it’s time to learn them properly.
7. Capture the scenery, too
Imagine you are trying to shoot on top of a building. You peeked at your camera’s viewfinder, adjusted the focal length, and tried fitting human elements within the camera’s frame. Suddenly, you realized that the scenery makes them stand out more — that’s what this tip is for.
Street photography should not be limited to street per se. As long as the background element does not overpower the human element or subject, you are good to go. The lush greenery along this golf course make the golfers stand out more. The differences in their movement make it feel dynamic, candid, and emphasizes their actions of playing golf.
8. Explore unusual elements to shoot
Last but definitely not the least is all about looking for odd elements that will make you and your composition different from others. Staged photographs can be imitated, but not the candid ones. That’s why learning the basics matter, so you can compose shots in a split second — every shot you take makes a lot of difference.
Use juxtaposition when possible in order to convey two contrasting elements in one frame. In the shot above, I was aiming to describe the situation of the Philippines (or other similar nations) today — the biker represents that Filipino citizens are freely moving around, while the window grilles represent that we are restricted to freely express ourselves due to government policies and sanctions (Threat to Press Freedom, anyone?).
I captured more than ten photographs in the same location just to get my desired composition. If you think this goes against the essence of shooting candid photos, it’s not. I do not personally know him nor directed him to pass by. Misconceptions like this can cause trouble among the photography community, and you should avoid that.
Another candid shot I took talks a lot about growing up and getting old. Having the same walking direction between the old man and the children tells us that time is constant. There is nothing that can stop us from accepting more responsibilities and having different kinds of interest as we grow up.
Photography throughout my years
I was born knowing what traditional film cameras look like and how they function. I was even there when VGA, 3-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras in phones made headlines. Photography has come a long way, and they still keep improving. It’s not even limited to professional cameras anymore that newer smartphones with excellent mobile photography prowess can now be considered as contenders.
As I was saying, street photography is not my forte. But from my experience using the Canon EOS RP coupled with a new RF lens system (vs the old EF lens mount), capturing photos still felt like I was using my old 60D because of the familiar feel and function. After using different cameras throughout my creative journey, Canon still lives up to their name for creating a big name in the camera industry.
The Polaroid Go is the smallest analog instant camera in the world
With this camera, the sky’s the limit and not the size
Polaroid has a new, cute camera and we want it. There, I said it.
Polaroid Go is the newest, tiniest member of the Polaroid family. Dubbed as the smallest analog instant camera in the world, it only measures 4.1-inches long, 3.3-inches wide, and 2.4-inches tall. What an exciting change to Polaroid’s decade-old form factor, right?
Designed as a creative companion, the Polaroid Go sports a portable, wearable look and feel. The newest camera is available in a classic white colorway, following Polaroid’s iconic design retained in a new format apt for the new generation.
The Polaroid Go, despite its tiny size, packs mighty features. This includes a newly-developed selfie mirror, self-timer, longer-lasting battery, dynamic flash, double exposure, and travel-friendly accessories.
There’s also a Go film that reimagines Polaroid’s classic square format, to suit the newest and smallest analog instant camera.
Price and availability
Polaroid Go retails for US$ 100 while the Polaroid Go Film Double Pack costs US$ 20. The Polaroid Go will be available for purchase on April 27 at polaroid.com/go.
Fujifilm’s retro-style Instax Mini 40 comes with Selfie Mode
And a new instant film sheet!
Fujifilm decks out its newest, classic-looking instant camera, the instax mini 40. Amplifying its retro style, the instant camera comes with a high-quality texture cover adorned with premium silver accents.
Additionally, its small figure lets you fit it into a pouch, a fanny pack, or a small bag. On another note, it has an uncanny resemblance to the instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, albeit packed with modern features.
The instax Mini 40 hosts a plethora of features that instant-camera lovers will adore. There’s an automatic exposure function that casually adjusts the camera’s shutter speed and flashes, depending on the surrounding brightness.
There’s also a selfie mode, making it easier to take solo and group photos. All you have to do is press the power button to extend the lens, then pull out the lens to switch to Selfie Mode, with a “Selfie On” mark to signify that the camera is ready to take your selfie. Lastly, don’t forget to check your framing using the mirror.
The Fujifilm instax Mini 40 has a suggested retail price of US$ 100.
Furthermore, Fujifilm introduces Contact Sheet — a mini-format instax film featuring orange text printed over a black frame. This design simulates the contact sheet — through bromide sheets — of the past used in films that let you check individual images.
The Instax Mini Contact Sheet instant film will retail for US$ 15. It will be globally released on April 21, 2021, alongside the Fujifilm instax Mini 40.
Razer’s new webcam: the Kiyo Pro
For work and play
With Razer showing off their dedication to workers and gamers staying safe and indoors, they’ve announced the new Razer Kiyo Pro.
The Kiyo Pro is a USB camera with a high-performance Adaptive Light Sensor to deliver sharp video quality even in low-light conditions. Combined with an ultra-sensitive Type 1/2.8 CMOS sensor with STARVIS technology, the Kiyo Pro boasts professional-level image quality to video conferencing and streaming.
In this day and age, it’s no surprise that Razer is bringing new webcams especially with work-from-home and new digital communications. Working from home has really become an integral part of professional life today.
However, sometimes built-in laptop cameras lack the resolution and framerates for professional-looking conference calls or streams. They often struggle to cope with low-light and deliver blurry images and that’s where the Kiyo Pro comes in.
The Kiyo Pro is capable of uncompressed full HD 1080p 60FPS. Razer says this will not only ramp up dynamic range but also, correct under- or overexposed areas on the fly, eliminating silhouetting if the subject is lit from behind.
Making sure it’s ideal for video conferencing or streaming, the wide-angle lens on the Kiyo Pro gives you a choice of three fields of view: 103°, 90° or 80°. The 103° view lets everyone fit in a group video call or allow streamers viewers to show off their set up. But, if you’re just looking for a perfect headshot view for meetings or streams, the 80° view will suffice.
The Kiyo Pro has a range of extra features with flexible mounting options to perfectly set it up. And, its omnidirectional stereo microphone array ensures your voice is properly picked up wherever you’ve mounted it. A separate cover is included to protect the lens and assure your privacy when not in use.
Razer Kiyo Pro Specs:
- Connection type: USB3.0
- Image resolution: 2.1 Megapixels
- Video Resolution: 1080p @ 60/30/24FPS / 720p @ 60FPS / 480p @ 30FPS / 360p @ 30FPS
- Video encoding: H.264 codec
- Still Image Resolution: 1920×1080
- Image Quality Settings Customization: Yes
- Diagonal Field of View (FOV): 103°, 90°, 80°
- Focus Type: Auto
- Mounting Options: L-shape joint and Tripod (Not included)
- Cable Length: 1.5 meters braided cable
- Channels: Stereo
- Audio Codec: 16bit 48KHz
- Polar patterns: Omni-directional
- Sensitivity: -38dB
- PC with a free USB port
- Windows® 8 (or higher)
- Internet connection
- 500 MB of free hard disk space
- Compatible with Open Broadcaster Software and Xsplit
The Razer Kiyo Pro is already available on Razer’s website with the price tag of USD$199.99 or EUR€ 209.99
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