Over the next several weeks I’ll be publishing, in serialized form, my new book, Mastering Street Photography.
Today’s installment includes the introduction to the book and a note on prerequisite requirements or in other words, what is not explained in the book, that I assume you already understand.
If it’s more convenient, you can find the serialization of this book on Medium.com.
The book and all images (unless expressed otherwise) are copyright ©Anthony Morganti – All Rights Reserved. Email me for permission to use – Tony@AnthonyMorganti.com
What is Street Photography?
Street photography can be challenging to define. I believe I could walk up to ten different photographers, ask them to define street photography and I’d likely get ten different answers with not one of them being wrong. While it’s often stated that street photography is a form of documentary photography, the difference is that most documentary photography is usually centered on a strong subject whereas street photography is more loosely based around the theme of people and the society of people. People directly as in portraits and candids and culture of people that can be found in the images consisting of streets, buildings, neighborhoods, and parks. I like to think of street photography as the photography of humans existing in a society of humanity. A less clumsy term might be Social Documentary Photography.
As much as I like the term, Social Documentary Photography, it still, in my opinion, does not adequately describe street photography. Recently I was watching an interview with the late Leonard Nimoy — the actor who most notably portrayed the Vulcan Spock in Star Trek, but who also was a fine art photographer who studied photography under Robert Heinecken at UCLA. In the interview, Nimoy told the story of the time he asked Heinecken what the difference was between fine art photography and photojournalism. I’m paraphrasing here, but his mentor said to him that if you were walking down the street with your camera and you found that a man had jumped out of the window of a high rise building and you raised your camera to your eye to record the event, then you’re a photojournalist. If you raised your camera to your eye to capture the form of a body falling through space, then you’re a fine art photographer.
I am of the opinion that street photography is a blend of fine art photography, photojournalism, and portraiture. Consisting of all these various components makes street photography hard to define but, as you will find, not trying to learn.
In this book, we’ll talk about the mechanics of street photography such as what gear to use, how to set that gear up, how to move through the streets and how to approach people. We’ll talk about composition and what makes a strong image compositionally and emotionally.
Years ago there was a belief in medicine that the hemispheres of the brain controlled different aspects of our being. The left hemisphere was where critical thinking, numbers, logic, and language resided. The right hemisphere was where music, color, creativity, and emotions exist. Recently scientists have mostly moved away from this dichotomous idea of the brain, but I think it serves us well as a metaphor for a way to learn and become very good at photography.
In the first several parts of this book, I’ll give you all the logic, language and tools you will need to know so you can effectively shoot street images.
We’ll begin by talking about what types of images make up street photography — what to look for when you’re out shooting. In addition, we’ll discuss light and basic composition. All these things will be residing on your brain’s left side.
Further on, we’ll discuss gear. Cameras, lenses, f/stops, shutter speeds and all that fun stuff. Again, all this will be on the left side of your cranium.
After that, we’ll discuss different shooting techniques such as shooting from hip and zone focusing. Also, we’ll talk about how to get up the nerve to shoot pictures of strangers on the street, and I’ll offer exercises on how to get over any fear and anxiety you might feel.
In the latter part of the book, we’ll talk more about the philosophy of street photography that makes a great, emotional image. Ultimately, when people gaze upon our work, we want them to feel something. Emotion is the coating of your brain’s right hemisphere.
I hope you will learn to live and breathe in your brain’s right hemisphere. Seeing the emotion of the scene that is all around you and when the time comes to capture it, you’ll have all of the tools you need in your brain’s left hemisphere that you can reach over and grab the appropriate tool on a moment’s notice, to get the job done.
In writing this book, I’m making some assumptions that you understand and are very familiar with what is often called the triangle of exposure. Specifically, you need to know how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO relate to one another and what you need to do to adjust these settings to achieve the look that you desire.
For an in-depth series of articles about exposure and the triangle of exposure, visit my website at this link: