Tips: Street photography is mostly shooting from the hip

If you look at most of the street photographs, they are shot from the hip. The unusual perspective that you get by shooting from the hip, engages viewers. They feel they are part of the scene. I personally like to call it “Kids Eye View” or “Kids perspective”.

There are advantages of shooting from the hip in street. Firstly, you become invisible. When you pickup your camera at your eye level, start focusing the lens and point your camera at some one, people become aware of you and they start looking at you, giving unnatural poses. You loose the spontaneity of the scene. Most of the time you end up in Good Portraits rather than spontaneous Street Photographs.

Another advantage is the unusual perspective you get. This makes viewers feel like they are part of the scene. This makes your photographs more engaging.

(c) Dipak Kumbhar

Here are the tips to shoot from the hip.

#Tip 1: Always shoot in wide-angle
This is the most important rule in shooting street photographs. Using wide-angle helps capture everything in the scene. Also since you are shooting from the hip without looking through view-finder, there are chances you might not capture what you want to, if not shooting in wide-angle. Also with wide-angle you avoid getting flat images. The hip level perspective combined with wide-angle give you unusual shots, nice juxtapositions. The perspective you get, makes viewer get deeper into the scene. They feel part of the scene.

#Tip 2: Understand your lens’s hyperfocal distance
Hyperfocal distance is basically the distance that you can focus to at any given aperture, where the resulting depth of field will retain sharpness in the scene from as far away as infinity to the closest possible point. Understanding your lens hyperfocal distance is very important in getting sharp images throughout infinity.  Once you know your lens’s hyperfocal distance, you can pre-focus your lens on that distance and then you don’t have to adjust your focus again.

To know your lens’s hyperfocal distance, you can use free calculators available on internet.
Hypoerfocal calculators/tutorials on web:

#Tip 3: Use faster shutter speed
Faster shutter speeds are very important when it comes to capturing decisive moments. When you are shooting at hip level, the chances are that you are moving around, and in street there is lot of movement around you. Most of the time, your subjects are also moving. It is very important to shoot them at right moment, to freeze their motions.

#Tip 4: Use Auto-ISO Mode
From camera settings menu, set your camera to Auto-ISO. In changing light conditions, it helps to let camera decide light sensitivity by setting ISO values. This ensures that you always get faster shutter speeds. In street photography, you can use High ISO noise/grains creatively. When particular scene has good light conditions, you can always override Auto-ISO and set it to lower ISO settings like ISO 100 or ISO 200.

#Tip 5: Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode
Set you camera to Aperture priority mode and set your aperture to F18 or more. This will ensure that you get sharp focus through out the infinity. Also with this mode, camera automatically sets your shutter speed to optimum so that you don’t get slow shutter issues or camera shakes.

#Tip 6: Remember to lock your exposure
Take exposure of the scene and use your AE/AF Lock button to lock the exposure. You can change this if the scene lighting conditions changes. but most of the time, Exposure will not change. Set your camera metering mode to Adaptive/average or matrix so that camera will read exposure from whole scene rather than particular area.

#Tip 7: Pre-focus your lens
Pre-focus your lens in auto-mode on hyper-focal distance, probably on your hand or any object from which you want your scene to be in sharp focus. Once lens is focused, you can then set the camera/lens to Manual Focus and start shooting without worrying about focusing. You need to re-focus your lens only if scene requirements changes.

#Tip 8: Set your camera on Continuous Shooting mode
When you set your camera on continuous shooting mode, there is less chance that you miss the best shot. With a single click you can shoot the subjects continuously and out of all number of shots, you can select the best one.

#Tip 9: Remove lens filters
I suggest you to remove lens filters, especially if you have Polarising filters attached. In street photography, many a times Glass/mirror/water reflections is what you want to shoot. Filters like polarising filters will remove these reflections and you will miss those reflections. For a digital SLR, you don’t need UV filters. Only a clear glass filters to protect your lens is what you need.

divine war

(c) Nilesh Gawde