Street photography itself means documenting human activities in decisive moment. I think the term “Street” in street photography came when Henry Cartier-Brenson (Considered as “Father” of Street Photography) introduced his street works to the world with most of photos taken on the city street. Therefore, people start to call this type of documentation as street photography. But actually, we can do street photography everywhere in public space. I agree that many astonishing street photos out there taken in street activities, however, by took photograph outside regular street could help us get more creative images as we could infuse more effect into our photos. There are several places that I like to do shooting “street” outside of street area:
By The Beach
Could be my most favourite “not on the street” place! Big open space, bright light, human interactions, sand, and of course the sea itself. So many elements that we can use to get creative street shots!
By combining sand and water we can have different “road”, no longer ordinary pavement here. Big open space will help us to create variation of images in so many angle of view, it does not matter what your focal length is, from (full frame equivalent) 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm or even longer can be used to get creative street shot here. A place where we can experiment with many type of focal lengths without any restriction (i.e: on narrow street hard to use tele lens). Bright sun light is always welcome to any camera sensor, as everything will have good contrast, pop out colours, and the sun-shape itself that we can use as additional effect.
The fact that many people come to beach for relaxing or holiday is simply the cherry on top. We can easily find subjects to fill our frame, and a lot of moments about human interaction there. Beach is usually also a tourist destination, camera is something very welcome here, and most people will not even care if see someone bringing their camera. Beach: A place where we get a lot of light, unique elements (sand, water, sun), human interactions, and no one care if your camera glued to your hand. What else can you ask?
If you had read my post about Night Street Photography here you probably aware that advertising light board is one of my most favourite place to create strong silhouette subjects. They are colourful, can have unique shape, and easily make everything that passed in front of them become silhouette. The fact that we stand inside the air conditioning room, plenty of cafe to rest or review our photos, and most of people also will not care if we bring camera all the time are plus points that make shopping mall become the perfect place to do “fishing” technique: We just search an interesting background, set our camera setting, adjust composition, and then wait till the perfect subject enter the frame.
Some people report that shooting with camera inside mall can invite security guard to come and stop us to take any more photos. While in some cases it is true, my little trick is, I only took a lot of shoots in shopping mall where there is at least one big camera store in that mall. So far I never encountered any restriction from security person when shooting “street” inside a mall with camera stores inside. Of course keep in mind that I shot with relatively medium to small size mirrorless camera, perhaps situation could change if I shot with big DSLR body + long zoom lens. Using non interchangeable lens camera definitely help, as they look more a tourist camera instead of professional one (ex: Fujifilm X100 series, Fujifilm X70, Ricoh GR, Leica Q, etc).
Another tips to shoot inside a mall, we can try to shoot when mall is about to open or close. Usually there are unique scenes that we rarely see in normal time. In photo above I took the image at around 11.00 pm when a person changed the jacket on mannequin, something that almost never happened in normal operating mall hour.
Recently, a place that I visited several times a week is a park. What I meant by park could be in any kind of parks like: Sport park (for skate, bicycle, etc), playground park, or just ordinary garden park. Park is a place that usually also open space, many human activities inside (especially at weekend) and most of people there never bothered with camera appearance.
In sport park, we can get more creative human activities about their sport action that we can not always find when shooting on regular street. These actions can lead us to get create more unique shadow, silhouette, and geometry. Of course to freeze these fast pace movement we need to raise shutter speed of our camera. Generally I will set shutter speed manually at 1/1000 – 1/4000 depend on what action I want to capture. Shooting at daylight definitely preferable as we also need small aperture to make sure able to get sharp image across the frame (unless we want to make bokeh effect which is a bit hard when capture fast pace action).
Ordinary garden park usually is more laidback and slower pace, but generally it also have the most stories about human life compare to any other type of parks. As many random people gathered here to do their own activities, therefore we can capture many different stories in the same place.
Museum / Gallery
Photography is a form of art. Starting to photograph things in art place is never a wrong move. Many unique background that has artistic feeling can become a good place to start the fishing technique, as usually we can see unordinary shape of objects, wall decoration, painting, etc to add more creative effect into our photos.
Another benefit, most of museum / gallery is type of place when we can shot with our camera freely and no one is wondering why we hold camera on our hand all the time. I heard that some museum / gallery places have restriction to DSLR or big camera type (although I never encountered any of them), so just like in Mall area, Non ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) is preferable here.
Transport hub here include airport, harbour, bus stop, train station and any other type of public transport places. Generally these kind of places have many people inside, and each of them will create plenty of human interactions. Each of these places will have their own unique space or objects that we can not see them on regular city streets. Therefore it will help us to get images that a bit unusual in context to street. “Unusual” is a good thing in photography as most of the time we all love unique images that different to others. Something that we do not see everyday.
In transport hub place we also can find human activities that really different compare to regular city street or parks. Usually it is about the relation between people and the transportation itself. For example in harbour, we can easily photograph the relation between human activities and ships. Kind of story that we can not get from regular street.
That is all for my post about shooting street not on the street. I consider these places as my favourite spots, but actually there are still so many other places where we can shoot street photography. Remember that to shot street photography we are not required to always photographed only in city street, but actually from anywhere and anytime instead. So if we feel bored about capturing activities on street, we still have plenty of other places to extract stories about human life. Or, if we think that we have no time / chance to shot outside, we always can start to “street photograph” inside of our office or working place!
Keep shooting and stay inspired,