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Learning Street Photography – Tips for Beginners, Getting Better Photos

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Today I went on an adventure in Niagara Falls learning street photography. I made a lot of mistakes but in this video we take a look at what I did wrong so that when you try, you won’t make the same mistakes I did!

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Hey so it's the first time I made a video in a while we're here in Niagara Falls we got some pretty nice weather and I would like to try to do some street photography this is something I've actually never tried before so I'm excited to try it out what I'm gonna be doing so I'm gonna be walking around on Clifton Hill and I've got the Canon 50 millimeter 1.4 I'm gonna be using that to take some pictures of people try and get some interesting stories I'm deciding to use the 50 mil instead of a instead of a zoom lens because I want to challenge myself to put myself in the correct place to take a photo rather than having the flexibility of zooming in and out to avoid interacting with people so this is one trying to get some good photos trying to get some good stories and to also just a bit of a confidence-building exercise for me so let's try it out see what we get so I'm back from the street photography adventure loaded up the pictures I took took a look through them and realize that most of them are garbage but that's kind of expected because with street photography you can't really set things up exactly how you want you kind of have to just try and capture something authentic capture something real and and see what you get so like I said most of it is not very good but I did find 10 pictures that I took that I liked out of these 10 pictures that I liked there's also some major flaws with them so because I'm still learning you're still learning I figured that we can take a look at my mistakes look at what went wrong and then you cannot make those mistakes in the future so generally here I was trying to tell a story with the photography of people visiting Niagara Falls and what a lot of people do when they visit Niagara Falls is they take pictures now I didn't want to just take some nice pictures of Niagara Falls what I wanted to do was take pictures of the people taking pictures because when someone is taking a picture they are they're creating a very very enclosed world view of that particular moment framed exactly how they want it and I wanted to back that up a little bit and to take a look at the wider picture that they're experiencing not just what they will see on that person's Instagram feed but the greater context of what's going on so the first photo we have here I think that this is fitting that story I think that this is something good for what we're looking for some major mistakes is that and this is a common theme in everything today is that I had auto focus on and auto focus really screwed me on a lot of these so if you look over here this was our focus point we absolutely missed focus if I had focus on here bad focus on this guy either of those would be fine and it's not whoops it's not awful the way it is but it's not particularly good it's not something I'm proud of so when I went into this I just flipped everything onto auto because I wanted to make sure that I had the most opportunities to take these pictures but I think that putting it into manual focus mode would have slowed me down a little bit maybe I would have missed a few shots would have made the ones that I got generally of a higher quality so that's a common theme in the pictures today our second one were actually still focused on the same post actually I guess a little down here this second one yes we were kind of screwed by the auto focus but the other thing is I'm realizing that I need to be a little bit more bold I want to get closer to my subjects I want to get a little bit closer to the action so here if I and I was closer to this person doing the squat here and maybe if I like if for example we had a crop like this you know that that could have been something cool maybe it maybe would have been better if I was more to the left of this so that we could get the street in view as well but really this person I don't know they're they're a little that they are supposed to be my subject here but they aren't very prominent and part of that is because of the focus issue they're also part of that it's because my framing and my consciousness of how close to get this one actually like quite a bit I wish I was on the other side of these people and I think this comes down to a confidence thing and a cautiousness thing because I did see this group of people coming up and I could have stopped and took a picture of them from the front but I didn't I continued walking and turned around and then took the picture and it's not awful you know we we still have the experience of documenting people documenting their trip to Niagara Falls but without faces it doesn't really pop there's no personality here so this it's not bad but it could be a lot better our next one I thought that this was gonna be so good until I noticed that this was our focus point you know I I'm gonna keep saying this but put it on manual focus even if it slows you down a little bit the precision you get the accuracy is gonna be well worth it because you know for for something like this to focus on that little beam when we have a story here we've got a story over here these people are kind of we couldn't really do much with that from this current framing but like this could have been so much better if we weren't focused on this post and it was so close so close but we didn't get there the manual focus now this one this one I I want to say I wish I was closer I don't think I would have had at the time to get closer I saw these people preparing to take a photo and I wanted to document the greater picture here so I couldn't really get over in time unless I started sprinting at which point you know I'm trying to be a little inconspicuous and that wouldn't really work they'd be like why the hell is this guy with the giant camera running over to us so you know this is kind of just wrong place at the wrong time thing but it's not awful this is one of the ones that I'm kind of happier with I saw this person getting ready to take a picture and I wanted to take advantage of this natural frame that we had from like a stone building this could have been good I think that my my light balance wasn't great it's kind of a difficult shot for full auto mode to get correct so this is kind of the the pitfall of automatic shooting because this could have been something cool but it would require tweaking of settings getting things right and having this person stay there for an extended period of time when the reality is with authentic street photography we can't just force them to stand there so you get what you get now this one don't do this do not do this like this this tells the story of people going too far for their social media feeds because these people are up here very possibly risking death to get a picture slightly closer to Niagara Falls do not do this we've got a sign literally right here saying do not climb on the railings so many people die don't do it but of course I took a picture of it because this is this is exactly the story we're trying to tell right the the greater picture of people taking pictures I'm sure whatever they took looked fantastic they didn't die so you know I guess for them it was worth it but this is very risky activity and also I missed focus again but I'm gonna you know stop complaining about that overall not there's nothing there are no real major complaints I have about this one my framing could have been better I could have gotten a little closer but it was also one of those instances where I didn't really have time to get that much closer if I wanted to capture this moment would have been nice to have a zoom lens but because I was challenging myself to actually get close to my subjects I didn't take the zoom lens I had the 50 millimeter prime so you know it is what it is and then here this is one of the only ones where I actually did get to focus exactly where I needed it I could have been a little bit closer but I don't mind this distance like having the street in this picture makes it a bit more authentic of a story we've got us watching them take a picture of whatever it is they're taking a picture of I think over every frame what they're taking picture of is the Ripley's Believe It or Not something like that I think that's what that is anyway so this one I'm actually pretty happy with and then our final picture I think this goes back to what we were talking about over on our third one faces would make this pop quite a bit if I was on the other side of these people well we wouldn't have this street view so maybe maybe that would be not as good but I know that they they were walking down the street and turning the corner here so if I was better on my timing and better on my confidence levels then I could have gotten a picture of them facing me and getting this this street view as well so since I'm not super happy with these photos I am challenging myself to try this thing again and my homework is two-one slam that thing in manual focus and – I want to be more confident get closer to my subjects and just generally be less afraid of taking authentic photographs of these people so that's my homework for myself I'm sure there are more issues with these pictures that I didn't see so if you saw something and you want to give me some critique please post that in the comments below I'd love to hear what you think if you want to show me what you have done for some street photography or photography in general and send that to me on instagram or twitter or post it in the comments whatever it is I want to see it so yeah show me what you got I hope you also try the homework challenge of doing some street photography and being bold and confident in your shooting and I will see you next time