Great Street Photography doesn’t necessarily have to happen on the fly. When I first got into Street Photography I felt like I had to keep moving so I wouldn’t miss the “decisive moment” that could be happening right around the corner or on the next block. I felt like a hunter always on the prowl, relying a little on preparation and a lot on luck. Interestingly, had I taken the time to study the likes of Henri Cartier Bresson a little more I would have realized that I was working too hard. I had always heard and responded to the phrase “work smarter, not harder”.
Cartier-Bresson would often set up and wait for the perfect subject to cross his interesting scene, there is still a little luck involved but if you work out the scene before hand you’re 50% of the way there. One of his most famous photographs, the one with the man jumping off a board into a large puddle, was the product of Henri poking his camera through a hole in the fence and waiting for the perfect subject.
*Doing a simple Google Images search of “Henri Cartier-Bresson Contact Sheets” will confirm this method of shooting.
The image above was taken after I walked past an alley and, by luck, caught a glimpse of a man walking through the steam and disappearing on the other side. Only after I saw that I realized what a cool photograph this would be and decided to wait it out and make a photograph of the next person that walked by. I positioned myself so that the persons reflection would also be in the shot to add another layer for interest.
The shot above, taken in Miami, was another product of recognizing a scene and waiting for the right subject(s) to walk through. I couldn’t have gotten luckier to have two men, one dressed in all black and another in all white, walk past my scene of black and white-painted lines.
My work flow for 2015 has changed drastically from last year, I will be more cognizant of scenes around me and start to work them for a longer period of time than ever before. Next time you are out and about keep your eye out for interesting scenes and make a mental note to revisit them with your camera and see what you can do with them.