Street style photography is portraiture in the moment. At any given time, there are hundreds or even thousands of people in the streets where you live, all subjects waiting to be captured. For me, street photography has graduated from an art to an obsession. Everywhere I go I see potential subjects, their unique aesthetic and feel, while assessing both lighting situations and frame.
To begin as a street photographer all you need is a camera. That’s how I did it. For a while I wanted to get into fashion photography, began assisting top level photographers (something I still do), and looked into investing in lights and a studio space. The operational needs of fashion photography demand thousands of dollars in equipment, time, a story, clothes, makeup, hair, models, and a location, if not multiple locations. These shoots take so much time and effort to set up, when all I really want to do is photograph. What other choice did I have, but take it to the street?
The first rule of street style photography: go with your gut. The Sartorialist, Facehunter, and Bill Cunningham all do this. Bill Cunningham is pretty candid about saying he doesn’t “say” anything, he lets the streets tell him. So don’t pay any attention to trends or celebrities, and just get yourself out there and let the people in the street tell you. If you like style, shoot street style. But, to be authentic is important for a photographer, especially any photographer interested in fashion. If you know what you value, while you shoot you will begin to set yourself apart, defining your own sensibility. Emulate anyone, unless it’s some technical master line Henry Cartier Bression, and you’re doomed.
So, get a camera, even an iPhone and set yourself up with an instagram. Or you could get a Google Blogspot, and take photos with a point and shoot. A manual camera with interchangeable lenses, DSLR and Lightroom + Photoshop is a classic digital setup and will produce the most professional quality photos, but there are no hard fast rules. The best photos are taken with the camera you have on you. A great eye beats hardware any day. As for me, I shoot with a Canon 7D and a 24 mm prime lens. This lets me get right up close and personal with my subject. I feel like I’m part of the action, not some distant observer.
Thanks for reading. More to come!
Chad Saville: New York Street Style Photographer