Street photography is all about capturing the candid moments of everyday life as they happen. While this can be done with any camera, having the right gear can make your job a lot easier. Here are six pieces of street photography gear that will help you capture the best images possible.
Always having your camera in your hand means you’ll be much faster on the draw. In the highly dynamic world of street photography that fraction faster can mean the difference between getting the photo, and missing the moment of capture.
The speed factor here makes this one of the best photography accessories in the business.
What are some of the other factors you need to think about with this equipment? Let’s have a look.
- Weight – The default for most photographers is to have their camera around there neck. Camera’s are heavy though, and street photography will involve being out for hours at a time. Save your back and neck problems by instead using a wrist strap, so your camera is hand held.
- Attachment – Using a wrist strap will mean your camera is attached to you, making it faster to take photos, and more secure from theft. A word of warning though. When you sit down you’re much more likely not to have the camera on your body, which might be the case with a strap around your neck. A friend of mine once had a camera stolen when for a mad five minutes he took his eye off it. He was using a wrist strap at the time.
Once again using a camera belt will give you much more accessibility to your camera, and therefore you will be able to take the photo much faster. The camera belt also gets that heavy camera body off your back, though it will of course still be on your hip, and on one side.
The balance issue can be somewhat mitigated if you elect to bring an additional lens. This lens can be clip on your belt on the opposite side to your camera body, so weight is more evenly distributed.
Now in street photography you’re not always going to be walking. There are times you’ll use a bike, or even a motorbike. This is when having a camera belt is a great camera accessory, you don’t have to stop and then dig through your bag for the camera.
With a camera belt you simply stop, reach for the camera, and take the photo. You’ll not miss the moment of capture, and stopping the bike for a photo will seem much less of a chore.
The Swiss army knife of photography accessories is of course the smartphone. This multi-tasking super device can be used for many photography related activities. You can apply this to your street photography in the following ways.
- Model release – Yes there are times you’ll want to get a model release from the people you photograph out on the street. When you approach a person, and ask permission for their photo, why not ask for a model release as well? Having a smart photo with an app such as easy release installed will make this super easy.
- Maps – Your aim in street photography is to “get lost”, and explore off the beaten path area’s of the city. Having a map can nevertheless be handy. It will guide you back to familiar area’s of the city, once you have finished your photography.
- Mark the location – Yes related to maps, but being able to mark a great location can really help your photography. This tip is not just for street photography, but for all forms of outdoor photography.
- Camera -You can of course use your phone as a camera, often with great results. The small size, and conspicuous nature of a phone makes it ideal for street photography as well.
Wet Weather Gear
Getting photos that standout from the crowd means going out in inclement weather. Using expensive camera equipment that doesn’t mix well with water is an obvious problem you will have to overcome.
Luckily there are various solutions to this, let’s look at those. The following are just for your camera, you’ll need to use a coat for yourself!
- Plastic bag – Yes, the most basic protection you can get, and by far the cheapest. Simply wrap the bag around the camera body, and use a rubber band to secure it around the lens. Your camera will now be more or less waterproof. You will need to make a hole in the bag for where the viewfinder is. The downside of a plastic bag is that if you wish to change settings, access to buttons can be awkward.
- Umbrella hat – A regular umbrella is impractical for photography. The solution is an umbrella hat! Not the most stylish thing you’ll ever wear, but this will keep your camera dry while you photograph. There are downsides though. Using a wide angle lens could well mean the umbrella gets into your composition at the top of the frame. This gear is also not useful on a windy day, when the umbrella will cause havoc on your head.
- Camera rain coat – Now of course there are items for wet weather that are specifically designed for your camera. These come in various forms, quality, and of course different prices. The most basic are not a massive improvement over a plastic bag. What they do tend to offer is clear perspex that allows you to view the back-screen, and other ergonomic features that make it easier to access the camera’s various buttons.
Photography is all about the light, so carrying equipment to make your own light makes sense. Now in this instance you’ll not be getting that candid moment, and your subject will know you have taken their photo. This of course means it makes sense to ask permission first to take the photo.
Now we’re talking lighting gear here, which implies more than just a strobe on the hot-shoe of your camera. Getting the light to the side of your subject can lead to some much more interesting light, and to do that you’ll need to use off camera flash.
- The gear – You’ll need a strobe for this, and this will need to be attached to a radio controlled receiver. On the camera itself you’ll have the trigger synced to your receiver. Even better still is the use of light modifiers such as the rogue flash bender. The flash bender is small and versatile, ideal for on the go lighting solutions.
- Setting up – Should you choose to bring a tripod you can set the light up on this. Otherwise you’ll be looking for a flat surface at around the same height as the person you are photographing. The angle of the light is at your discretion. Something from 45 degrees to 90 degrees and to the side of your subject works well. At a pinch you could hold the light to your side, and photograph at the same time, though it’s hard to do this with heavier camera bodies.
Now for something you’d not usually associate with street photography, that’s the crystal ball! Those looking for a slightly different take on this genre should consider photography accessories like this one.
The ball is like an external lens. Once you think of the crystal ball in these terms you can think about how that can be applied to street photography.
You will typically use a focal length of 50mm for your street photography, but there are certainly times when a wide angle or even a fish eye lens can be used.
That’s when you can also use a crystal ball.
Which Photography Accessories Do You Use?
In this article you have seen some possible photography accessories that you can use to improve your street photography. A number of these are for more practical use, while some can add to your creativity.
Which do you think will help you most improve? Have you tried any of the above suggestions in your street photography?
We’d love to hear what you think, together with your own ideas for camera accessories that can improve everyone’s photography!