Assignment 2: Street Photography

Philip Lorca de Corcia

Philip Lorca de Corcia

Your homework for this segment is to take your camera into an urban street situation, not unlike the situations encountered by some of the photographers whose work we looked at last day (see reference at end for further details). Your job will be to capture an image using techniques that we reviewed and that you should practice shortly before the exercise.

garry winogrand vampiress

Garry Winogrand

Your Focus
The first of these is ‘Zone Focusing’ – learn to read from your focus dial (or equivalent) and pre-set your focus to a distance between 2.5 and 4.5 feet. The smaller the distance, the more demanding the exercise will be – a great result will be slightly more difficult – however you will learn much more. That’s the payoff. Practicing first with a wall or other object with vertical mass to it (like a person – of course – a person might be an ideal subject for your training), do a series of trial exposures while walking towards your practice target, attempting to identify the precise distance you will be working at. This may not come easy at first. Guiding yourself with a yardstick or measuring tape is a great way to get to learn how far that distance occurs in front of you at first.

Lee Friedlander  - doors

Lee Friedlander

Shutter Speed
Your shutter speed will be a fixed speed . So in this case we’re going to use a shutter speed of 1/90th of a second – the aperture will be determined by what the camera indicates in it’s light meter (in the case of manual mode) or automatically if we are in shutter priority mode. In this mode, an adequate shutter speed will always be maintained – and the lighting of the scene determining what aperture we end up using.

Focal Length
Remember – cropping (or zooming in) is no substitute for ‘being there’

Do not be afraid to shoot in a place where there is both direct light (sun or skylight) and a lot of heavy shadow- but don’t make this a priority – try to mix things up a little in terms of scenery.

Remember – a great street photograph usually contains a strong element of social commentary. Be intent on exploring social and other contrasts inside the frame of your viewfinder. It’s all about revealing relationships, whether real or only perceived. You have the power to reveal truths about the world in the same way as Franz Kafka or Vladimir Nabokov can with their pens on paper. The only limitations are created by you. GOOD HUNTING!

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander

Roy De Carava

Roy De Carava


Street Photography in Wikipedia

PHOTO.NET’s page on Street Photography

Eric Kim’s page on Cartier-Bresson


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