Finding your decisive moment
The decisive moment is a concept popularised and extensively explored by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is credited with being the father of street photography. Henri explained the decisive moment in the following way -
Working the street
I enjoy street photography as I am sure most photographers do, at least at some point, after all it's right there. No models are needed, no staging is required and the situations happen right before your eyes, you simply have to be prepared to capture them. The street offers such a diverse range of subjects to photograph, all you really need is patience and confidence.
I recall my first attempt at street photography, I avoided having people in my shots. Then, I started using a long telephoto lens and included people from a distance. Nowadays, I use a 35mm but still keep a reasonable distance, and that's fine. You don't have to be in people's faces or use a particular lens, just own what you do and how you do it.
One point that has made a difference to my confidence and street work is the FujiFilm X-T1 which is now my go to camera. The silent shutter, in-built effects and small lightweight nature of the camera makes it ideal for street photography. If you don't like swapping lenses or want something a little cheaper but still with the same quality check out the Fuji X100T. Don't get me wrong the Canon5D MKII/III is a great camera, but after a day of walking the streets with it, you know about it, and, because of its size people are aware of you, I am finding that less so with the Fuji.
Having looked through my shots over the past few years, I have become aware of what attracts me to this genre. In order to see where your style is and what appeals to you, you need to create a body of work to analyse. By studying the recurring themes throughout your work, it will help you see what you may not even be consciously aware of. Perhaps you are naturally drawn to colour, emotion, connections. No matter what it is, once you know your work will be stronger and more defined.
If you are new to this genre and would like to develop a 'style' my suggestions would be; use one lens, one camera, keep your compositions consistent, process your images in a similar style. If you can work within those parameters then you will quickly develop a look to your work. From there, you can start finessing your work and become more objective, which will help you create even stronger shots.
Personally, I create both colour and black & white street shots. Some die-hard street photographers will shout you down because you SHOULD only shoot 'street' in black & white. Pish, I say! Do what is right for you and your style of photography.
As I inferred earlier, I have my own decisive moment, and that is, humour. I like funny moments on the street, not necessarily rib-tickling hysterical moments, just amusing to my eye/mind. Once I see them I have to photograph them.
Words are powerful, use them sparingly.
I think if you are going to have text in your shots it should serve a purpose or add to the shot. I understand that with text and advertising everywhere it is hard to crop out all the text, but if you can find an angle to crop it out it will help in the long run. Why? Because we read first, then look, and if the text isn't adding to your shot, it is just a distraction. That said, it could be the thing that holds the image together and if that is the case it definitely needs to be included. Here is a few examples of how I use text.
You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge
We all have our favourite street photographers, and rather than creating a long list of them, I have selected a handful that work the street very differently to create striking photographs.
If you are interested in street phootgraphy, I will be leading two photowalks over the next few months, one is the 500PX/Fuji Walk and the other is the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk, if you would like to join me then please click the links provided.
If you would like to continue your learning and read a more in-depth post about street photography click HERE
Dade Freeman is a Brighton photographer creating portraits and fine art images for commercial and personal use.