It's All About Seizing The Moment

Street and documentary photography is a genre of photography where the sense of timing, more than anything else, usually differentiates a good photo from a not so good one. Really good moments make compelling, memorable photographs, and it’s easy to see that well-liked and famous images are the way they are because the photographer caught something that in turn caught the public imagination. Marilyn Monroe’s skirt flying up on the set of The Seven Year Itch, Robert Capa’s falling soldier, Ansel Adams’ Moonrise are all about moment.


Photographers have continually stressed on getting the timing right and discussions continue to focus on anticipation, preparation and techniques. Timing is critical in street photography, and here're six reasons why you need to learn it.


1. Life doesn’t wait

Although the idea of having a quick reaction time may seem intimidating, it’s easy to master if you know what to do. The secret is predicting what your subject will do next. For example, when you see someone riding a bicycle down the road, you can more or less guess where that person is going. With that in mind, prepare to point your camera towards where you expect your subject to pass you. It doesn’t matter how fast the bicycle is going. As long as you know where it’s headed, you’ll know exactly when to press the shutter.


2. Lighting conditions change

When you’re outside, you’ll notice how quickly the light around you changes. Although poor lighting shouldn’t discourage you from taking pictures, you still need to get into the habit of chasing perfect lighting. Take note of the best times to take photos. Bring your camera when the sun’s out and the weather outside is perfect. Doing so will increase your chances of going home with beautiful images.


3. Every frame is a different story

Nothing is static in the streets. Everything that happens in front of you changes with every frame. When you find a subject you want to photograph, compose your shot quickly and immediately press the shutter. Sometimes you only have a split second to decide on your image. Once you miss the right moment, you lose the picture.


4. You can’t always ask your subjects to pose for you

Once people become conscious of your camera, there’s a good chance that they’d stop acting natural, and that’s something you don’t want to happen. You can’t be invisible, but you can at least be unobtrusive.


5. Happy accidents usually don’t happen twice

Happy accidents are lucky moments that photographers capture unexpectedly. Take pictures of everything that you find intriguing and have fun. Experiment with different angles and different camera settings. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes, errors produce the most amusing images.


6. You might not see the same people ever again

Interesting characters make interesting subjects. Look for people that stand out, because there’s a great chance that you might not see anyone like them again. Unique individuals have an air of mystery that creates curiosity in photos.


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