Advanced Street Photography Techniques – Visualization

THE TECH CHALLENGE

Many photographers think that street photography is only for technically skilled photographers.  Indeed it takes some knowledge of the camera you are using, where is every control and button, but that is not a real technical skill. A technical skill is what needed when one is holding a violin and playing music, or making an oil painting that makes the heart miss a beat. Making a good traditional Black and White print is a technical photographic craft but setting few dials and knobs on a digital camera does not require much technical skill anymore, it leaves the “crafty” qualities out of the frame and the most important skill of creating a photograph is now taking place only at the photographer’s mind.

Street photographer Ouria Tadmor  write down his thought on street photography techniques of the 21st century.

 

Jaffa Rd, Jerusalem, 2005.

Jaffa Rd, Jerusalem, 2005.
The photo was taken with Nikon FE2 and Fujifilm 1600ASA, Then film was processed manually and hand prited to achieve the heavy feeling while keeping detailed shadows and highlights.

VISUALIZATION

A Jerusalem Fire Fighter distinguishing a local garbage bin fire

A Jerusalem Fire Fighter distinguishing a local garbage bin fire. The original JPG untouched.

 

A good street photograph is very far from being an image of reality. It is a story told by the photographer about his impression from a decisive moment that could only live on his image sensor or film, through the lens of his camera, therefore it needs to be told with the photographic language that will tell it the best way.
Here comes the Visualization technique into our story.

Visualization is what you imagine the final photograph to look like, before you have pressed the shutter release.  This technique has to be learned and practiced just like any other, maybe even more, as our imagination “muscle” is not so much in use for the last 10 years of digital-everything world. We are much better now at responding to images as we see them on the screen or even selecting the best setting after taking a photo and looking at the LCD than we are at understanding, remembering and visualizing what will be the final outcome of our photograph.

so what makes visualization so technical ?
Visualization is the act of association, you see a decisive moment and you associate it with an item in your memory, your visual and emotional memory. Our memory works like a muscle and can be trained to visualize photographic frames as we use our eyes, on our case it is on the street.

Just like any other technique, it takes some training and then more training to get good at, and here are some ways you can train your visual part of the brain.

1. TAKE ANOTHER ONE

Once you have pressed the shutter,before you tempt to look at the LCD, keep your eye to the viewfinder and make another photo, slightly different in angle or composition, try to imagine the previous frame and to fix what might went wrong in it.
Do that a few time before you move to another subject.

2. PRINT

High Key Black and White tone scale was used here to turn this small fire in a garbage bin into a mysterious moment, disconnected from the real scene.

High Key Black and White tone scale has added some mystery to the moment, disconnected from the real scene.

On smartphone days we can brows our images quickly while they are still in camera, mark the ones we like and share them on the spot without a need to even view them on the bigger screen. When we decide to print we have to give every frame more time and when we have even a pile of small prints we can put them side by side and decide witch one we like more, then pin them onto an “Inspiration Board” where we can see them later over and over again, until we decide to get a new print on the board.
Sharing is social. Printing is creating.

3. PHOTOS OF OTHERS  PHOTOGRAPHERS

We are surrounded by photos, weather we like them or not, we can still learn from them.
Try to pay attention and analyse how good photos were made, and what makes them so good.
Looking at photos that way not only sharpens our senses, but also expand our internal photo database.

4. HAVE SOME FUN

Street photography is fun, but we are sometimes guided by our on going race for the perfect shot, and I don’t think that there is one, at least not out on the street where most factors are not in our hands, so the most important factor is to have fun with the photo, when on the street or later in the computer. Try different ways to process your photos before you print them and even print a few different variations of the same frame, so you can pin them to the board and think about it as you go pass by the photos.

Just like any other technique, it takes some training and then more training to get good at.

5. YOUR INNER VOICE

As mentioned before, it is almost too easy to share photos nowadays, the same is true for giving and getting advice and criticism on our photos. A good advice would come from someone that understands what you wanted to do and have an idea of how to better show it, most virtual photo criticism I see on the web will tell you how to make the photo the way they see it regardless of what you had in mind and on most times it will stay on the narrow discussion about the settings and specifications of your camera.  My advice is to show the photos to someone you know in real and ask them what they feel, the best answers will come from people without a camera…

Low Key and high contrast Black and White tone scale keeps the viewer on connected to the scene and enhances the act of fighting the fire.

Low Key and high contrast Black and White tone scale keeps the viewer on connected to the scene and enhances the act of fighting the fire.

 

Many more tips and techniques that will make you a better street photographer can be found on our Jerusalem Street Photography Workshop. Click Here to join us!.