Yesterday I decided to go out early, hoping to catch somewhat different scenes. Less people on the streets and some restaurants weren’t open yet.



People garnishing the scene

In earlier photographs I put people in a street more as a garnish than anything else, until it became clear to me that I wanted people as the main subject so against my ratio I was heading for street photography as the real deal.

Still sometimes it worked for me, here’s an example.


This time I focussed (pun intended) on encounters: people having interactions with each other in a way that made me smile, if only just a little.
Being more relaxed now, I don’t mind if my subjects take note of my pointing a camera at them. It gives me more time to take a picture, even watch composition, check on focus and take more shots if I want to. When noticed I smile, pretend I was photographing something else by looking away after shooting, just walk on or whatever. Your own behaviour is crucial in a way I’m only beginning to slightly understand. Key to this is experience, experience, experience, I guess.

Rain is nice!

“Nice weather today, good to go out and make photos!” I get that often and people are amazed when I pull up my nose: nah, too much haze, look at the whitish-blue sky. Cloudy weather is easier for street photography and rain creates subjects of its own.

So when showers were forecast for last Sunday I took the bus to the city center and decided I was going to hunt for bikers coping with the rain. Bikes are a common thing here in The Netherlands, they are a commodity used for everyday chores like grocery shopping or going to work. And for going out because you can drink!

This time I took a full-blown camera bag and that was a good decision: all these were made with a 70-200mm lens while standing under a canopy. Such a lens can hardly go unnoticed but again no one seemed to care what I was doing. I feel more and more at ease and don’t bother as much anymore if someone notices me taking photos; maybe just that little bit more peace of mind comes across.

In the railway station

Lots of people moving fast in a railway station, so opportunities galore when you’re quick. I could hold a position but standing still in such a location attracts attention so I keep walking and only stop to shoot, quickly.

The woman in the middle looks almost like she’s daydreaming which looks strangely out of place here.

Let me guess: they’re going to a colleague who’s leaving. And Jasmien obviously went to Starbucks for her coffee.

So many things to wonder about when looking back on the pictures. As things are going quick, I hardly ever know what to expect. And I take Kai W‘s advice to heart: don’t chimp when you’re shooting. He’s right, it distracts and gets you noticed unnecessarily.

It’s amazing that people hardly notice you when you shoot quickly, and if they do they usually shrug, it looks like they believe you can’t take a photo that fast. But I still have to move closer, closer, closer.

Bought a wrist-strap the other day, much better to keep the camera in your hand than hanging it off your neck. “Duh! New to this, heh?” Yep.


I’m a curious person and kept coming back to this one.

She’s probably waiting for someone. But this posture doesn’t seem really comfortable and the hand under the head looks relaxed but out of place at the same time. Intriguing!

As I remember, I noticed all this in a split-second and took the shot; I should have made some extra shots going up closer but was afraid she’d notice me. Opportunity missed! The extra shots could have failed, but if successful I wouldn’t have had to crop as much. This also shows it’s a good thing to revisit shots after a few days, I almost threw this one away in my first round of processing.

Start of a journey

This will be a blog about my struggle to become a street photographer, for better or for worse.

Time and time again I’ve wanted to do street photography, made some half-hearted attempts at it in the last 30-odd years only to end up frustrated because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted. And now is the time to really make it work, or to totally fail. Klaus Hermann made a blogpost on How to become an outstanding photographer and that inspired me to go for it. Especially his point that achievement has little to do with talent: I always considered myself endowed with little talent when it comes to photographic vision. But there always was the desire to do some kind of street photography. Ultimately, what makes me tick is the desire to capture scenes that make me smile, or touch me, induce any kind of emotion really.

Enough of this self-reflection, starts to get boring and pretentious, isn’t it? First thing I have to learn is to just have the guts to point a camera at people. So let’s do it.

I actually passed along this guy and didn’t dare to take a picture. That’s not the way to make this work! So I went back. And took the picture. The guy was completely unaware of my presence. Mind you, I already took the time in the last few weeks to find the camera settings that allow me to act quickly, so this was just bringing the camera to my eye, frame and snap.

Does the picture work? Kind of, I think. You can’t really connect to the guy as he is totally absorbed with his phone. The trigger for this picture? Working is fine, but don’t we all need a break every now and then?

I’ve been on this a few weeks now and the way you behave and handle your camera has a big impact on how people react to you. I’m sure it also has a lot to do with how you come across as a person, which doesn’t work in my favor. I’m quite introvert and don’t come across as an open and friendly guy. Trying to sneakily take pictures? Wow, not good, people really take offense. Stand still and wait for something to happen? I get noticed and people apparently start to wonder what’s going on there. Doesn’t work. Up to now I had the most success with just walking around and taking a picture as soon as I saw something. Act quickly and people may notice you after you made the shot and walked on; almost always, they didn’t seem to care.

Not a really good shot. It’s clear what’s going on (I think) but there’s not a real visible connection between the girl and the guy at the right. Also, I wasn’t close enough so I had to crop this a lot; I didn’t really consider the composition.

A few minutes later I passed them again and she asked if I’d like a drink. I declined but said I wanted to take a picture. “Yeah”, she said, “Saw you doing that already”. And then they posed for me, which turned out better.

Some lessons learned today: get closer and anticipate on composition because you don’t have the time while framing and shooting. Also experimented with different autofocus settings, all with good results actually.

And there you have it, my first post of hopefully a long series with ever improving photography. Shouldn’t be too hard with the results so far now, should it?