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Getting Started in Street Photography

Getting Started in Street Photography

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Getting Started in Street Photography

117 pages
1 hour
Jan 15, 2018


During his 20 years “shooting street,” Bill Birnbaum has been photographing strangers on the streets of North America, South America, Europe and New Zealand. In this book, he offers the reader the benefit of his extensive experience.

In “Getting Started in Street Photography,” you will learn...
•What kind of camera is best for shooting street?
•Choosing your lens – which is best for street photography?
•The most appropriate camera settings for shooting street
•How about a smart phone for street photography? – pluses and minuses
•Pre-focusing (or zone focusing) to gain speed
•Color vs. black and white – considerations in choosing
•How to overcome fear of photographing strangers by employing the technique of “farming” rather than “hunting.”
•Strolling around the streets – moving within a fast-paced crowd
•Remaining inconspicuous when photographing strangers – dos and don’ts
•Techniques for “shooting from the hip” – when walking, standing, sitting
•What to look for in your subject – composition and timing
•Shooting street with a companion – yes or no – pluses and minuses
•A shot in the dark – shooting at night – shooting indoors
•Shooting street when traveling – shooting events – other cultures
•Why you should shoot in horizontal, rather than vertical, format
•About ethics and the law – what you’ll especially want to avoid
•Avoiding each of the three ways in which a street shot can “fail”

“Getting Started in Street Photography” also offers...
•A list of 19 tips for shooting better street photographs
•63 of Bill Birnbaum’s street shots, each illustrating one or more key points
•Numerous links to related websites, blogs, photo forums, photo software and other information sources

Here’s 20 years worth of street photography know-how for the price of a single book. If you’re looking for how-to info on street photography, this is the book for you.

Jan 15, 2018

Despre autor

For over three decades, I’ve worked with senior management teams helping them develop a shared strategic vision for their organization and then turn that vision into a sound business strategy. For 20 years, I published and edited the Business Strategies Newsletter. I’ve authored a number of strategy books including “Strategic Thinking: A Four Piece Puzzle,” currently in its fifth printing. Also for 20 years, I taught strategy courses for the American Management Association including: •The Strategic Planning Course •Strategy Implementation (I developed this course for the AMA) •Thinking and Managing Strategically I also developed The Strategic Planning WorkshopTM, a hands-on program to prepare senior management teams to develop their strategic plan. I’ve conducted that program for hundreds of organizations and thousands of senior and mid-level managers. I’ve served on the board of directors for three high-growth corporations, all of which were acquired per the plan I help them develop. •ISR Corporation •Trans-met Engineering •Woodroof Laboratories I’m certified as a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) by the Institute of Management Consultants. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. In 2007, I lived and worked as a business consultant in Abancay, Peru, helping entrepreneurs and university students stimulate economic development in this poor region of the Peruvian Andes. I lectured at both UNAMBA and UTEA Universities and wrote for Nuevo Management Journal. I speak, read and write Spanish, and have traveled extensively in Spain, Mexico and South America. Now semi-retired, I work with a few select clients from time to time. I continue to write on the subject of business strategy development and implementation and also offer critique of strategic plans and strategic planning processes.

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Getting Started in Street Photography - Bill Birnbaum




Take a look at the following five photos. What do you think they have in common? Clearly there are many things they do not have in common. As you can see, they’re not all in color. Three are in color and two are in black and white. Nor are they all taken in similar locations. Some I shot outdoors and others indoors. And while four of them are pictures of people, one is absent people. So what do they have in common?

Window Light

Oslo, Norway 2014

Bayside Café

Morro Bay, California 2014

Beer Gal

Austin, Texas 2015

City Lights

San Francisco, California 1997

Clifton Social Club

Clifton, Arizona 2016

As you might suspect from the title of this book, all of these images are street photographs. But to accept that all of these images are street photographs, you’ll have to accept a rather broad definition of street photography. And that brings us to an important question – What is street photography?


1. What is Street Photography?

In fact, there are many definitions of street photography. If you visit some of the on-line photography forums (DPReview’s Documentary and Street Photography forum is one which I especially like) you’ll read some lively debate on this subject. Some insist that street photographs must be taken on the street – that is, on the sidewalks of an urban city. Others suggest that street photography consists of candid photos taken of strangers. Historically, there’s some justification for both of these criteria. After all, the large majority (though certainly not all) of early street photographs were candid photos of people who were unknown to the photographer. And the vast majority of those photos were taken on the streets of major cities.

But I feel (and most street photographers seem to agree with me) that these definitions are far too narrow. In fact, a definition which I prefer comes from Wikipedia. The Wikipedia definition calls for an … image (which) projects a decidedly human character…

Fine Art

San Francisco, California 1997

If you think about this definition for a bit, you’ll realize that street photography would include images absent people. Like the Fine Art shot above. For though the image is absent a human being, it certainly represents the human character. Specifically, the image depicts the juxtaposition (two contrasting subjects or thoughts) of fine art and trash. Both fine art and trash are objects of humanity – representative of the human character.

Aboard the Train to Lillihammer

Norway 2014

This broad definition also includes images shot in environments other than the streets of major cities. Like the above shot of passengers on a train in Norway. And shots taken indoors – like inside bars and pubs. And airports. In fact, it might include images shot in any public place, indoors or outdoors.

I’m confident that most (though certainly not all) early street photographs were taken outdoors because earlier photographic technologies were unable to record images in low light. After all, to obtain an indoor image in the late 1800s required that the photographer ignite flash powder. Hardly conducive to candid photography. But with today’s far more versatile digital camera technologies, the indoor world is as much a part of the street photographer’s field of operation as is the outdoors.


2. Why the Current Interest in Street Photography?

The current popularity of street photography is being driven by technology. In fact, technology is driving such interest in three specific ways. First, the advent of the smart phone has outfitted everyone with a camera in pocket or purse. Our camera ready society goes about its day-to-day activities fully prepared to capture the human character any time, any place. And that day-to-day human character is the essence of street photography.

The second way in which technology is driving increased interest in street photography is that the digital camera has enabled taking pictures for free. Once having purchased a digital camera (or smart phone), the would-be street photographer can then click away at zero cost. No longer having to purchase and develop film, the photographer is free to experiment shooting whatever, whenever, wherever. Much of this whatever, whenever, wherever is the human character – street photography.

The third way in which technology is driving interest in street photography is through social

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