Perhaps someday someone will analyze my street photography composition and be able to deduce some inner conflict I struggle with or something deep like that… Until then, I have noticed that my style of composing street photography images usually falls into two camps. When I look at a moment unfolding in front of me my instinct, I think grown from years of landscape photography, is to neatly compose the image with all hands, heads, and feat folded safely inside the frame.
After the compulsory neat and tight shot I like to get in close and messy with another (above). I don’t really have a preference, I like them both. I feel like I have the Odd Couple living inside of my head sometimes.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the often over referenced and sometimes useful quote from Robert Capa,
If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.
I believe there is a time to get close and a time to step back in order to give additional context to an image. Each step back is like adding another page to the book you’re writing. Too many steps and you could end up with a long, uninteresting book. Too few steps and your book turns into a short story which could work if your characters are interesting enough.
As for which approach I prefer… I think there is a time for both. I see the appeal of very close composition but it still makes me feel as if I’m botching the composition. The technique I mention below is the best solution I’ve come up with to give me the best of both worlds.
The best approach to successful street photography composition that I’ve found is taking shots as I walk closer to my subject all the way until I either get too close or they move. How often have you seen an interesting subject and hurried to get “close enough” only to find that they’ve started to move on once you get there.
How do you approach your composition? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.