Stepping out onto the streets with your camera can be an intimidating viewpoint. There’s always an anxiety one feels about taking photos of strangers. Usually, many photographers aren’t quite sure of what they ought to or follow when engaging in taking photos in public places. While different places have different guidelines that prevail in public photography, one has to have some tips in mind, while venturing out into public places to take photos.
So here are five tips for taking photos in public places legally and safely
1. Dress and Look Like a Professional
Always carry yourself like a professional. Be quiet but bold and make sure you are not frightening the people around you. Having a good attitude while approaching your subjects is very essential. Communication is also important especially when someone makes eye contact with you and asks you. This is a great opportunity to tell them what you are doing. If possible, carry business cards and hand them out when you’re asked many questions of what you are up to. This will put these people at ease about your intentions.
On the tip of acting like a professional, I will cite for you a few essentials to follow.
- Use the right device and, appropriately.
While taking photos in public places especially with your phone, it’s important to use the right device with the right actions. Before you take even a single shot, you have to make sure that the sound on your phone is off. You wouldn’t want to interrupt people with your camera sounds. In addition, it is obvious that you wouldn’t want your camera’s sound to come out when you’re trying to be sneaky and unnoticed.
When you plan to be out all day shooting, make sure you don’t run out of battery. Keep a power bank in case you need to recharge later. And ensure that your phone or camera is fully charged before you set off to take photos in public places. It’s always a nightmare running out of battery when you are the middle of your best shots.
Public photos need to be captured quickly, which means you need to open up your camera app as fast as possible whenever you see the opportunity of having a good shot that you need coming up. To even be faster, you need to load the camera application earlier on the phone to take the photo.
2. Interact With your Subjects after Taking the Picture
Always interact with your subjects especially after taking the photo. This is because asking permission first will ruin the moment. This because they will now be self-conscious of the interruption. Technically, it is important to ask for permission after taking the photo, and practically speaking, this will help you avoid some hassles.
3. Ask a Parent’s Permission before Taking Photos of Children
For subjects like children, be sure to ask for permission from the parents. Seeing a stranger taking pictures of their children freaks parents out.
Before you take photos of a child, look around to see if you can figure out who the mother or father is. Here, approach the parent and explain why you want to take their child’s picture. Then hand them a business card. With this, they will be at ease and let you take the photos.
4. Beware of Public and Privacy
Firstly, look for people “in their own world” who may not notice you. Couples are often easy subjects to take photos in public. However, you have to be careful because there are some people who would not want you to take photos of them just like that.
In cases of where your subjects are restless by your presence and tell you that they do not want to appear in your photography, then leave them alone. If confronted, be calm, respectful, and prepared to explain yourself. Confidently and honestly explain to those who ask about your activity that you are a photographer taking part in a photo walk, or a photography student or any other reason depending on what your reason is. This will calm the situation and ease your work.
In addition to this, many people think of malls as public places, but they are privately owned even if they are open-air malls or shopping centers. The authorities or owners may be having restrictions on photography in their premises. Therefore care has to be taken when in such places.
5. Be Aware of Backgrounds and Surroundings
Because taking photos in public places requires you to be fast most times, it’s not always easy to get the perfect background with every shot. But it’s important to put the backgrounds on your mind whenever possible and adjust your position every time you want to take a shot.
When focusing on one subject, you should make sure that the background is clear with no distractions. Therefore, be you ought to be careful of any items that might be sticking out from behind your subjects, especially around their heads.
It is also important to focus on the light and where it falls. For example, if your subject in the shade, but there is sunlight in the background, your subject will end up too dark.
Practice more in taking photos in public places and you will be a great public photographer.
It has always been said that practice makes perfect. Of course, continued practice makes perfect. Christina N Dickson in her article about practice techniques, she lists four ways to develop photographic observation.
Practice will get you used to taking photos of strangers, and then eventually, it will become a hobby. Stepping out every time, taking photos in public places all the time will get you to have your own rules that will guide you every time. Besides, you will learn from the past mistakes and improve your public photography every time you set off and go taking photos in public places.
Again, like I mentioned above, your attitude and your approach is very important. Once you have the right approach, the rest is easy. You will enjoy what you are doing and finally get shots that you dream of taking.
On top of these five tips for taking photos in public places, what would you love to add?