Shooting Candid Street Photos

There’s no better way of getting to know a new place than walking the streets, which is also the perfect time to hone your street photography skills!

When we’re away from home, it’s great to get out and start exploring with our cameras. Some photographers like to go to well-known locations to take shots, but if you want to give yourself more of a challenge, why not try making some street images? A big part of street photography is taking pictures of people without them knowing it. This is not driven by sinister goals, but rather a desire not to interfere with the scene. If street photographers stopped to ask permission each time they made a picture, then the only images would be of people who knew they were being photographed – hardly natural behavior!

There are many ways to frame spontaneous photos, and eventually you’ll probably invent your own, but here are some to get you started.

Shoot From the Hip

Usually the first thing we do when we go to make a picture is look through the camera’s viewfinder or compose on its viewscreen, but this isn’t the only way. It’s not unusual for street photographers to photograph without using a viewfinder – instead, they aim their cameras in the direction of what’s going on and hope for the best. It’s a technique called ‘shooting from the hip’, because this is typically where the camera is positioned when it snaps the moment.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos© Bryan Minear

This approach might sound a little crazy, but it has two big advantages. The first is that you can react more quickly, catching moments that would have been over by the time you’d got the camera to your eye and carefully composed a picture. But the chief advantage of shooting from the hip is discretion – by working in this way, you can be virtually invisible, since you’re not attracting anywhere near as much attention.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos© Clay Benskin

The challenge is framing the picture properly, but with some practice you’ll soon get to know what is included when you’re using a specific focal length – hip shooters often like to use wide-angle prime lenses and get good and close to their subjects. Alternatively, a wide-angle zoom like the XF10-24mmF4 R OIS is also worthy of consideration to give you extra framing versatility depending on where you end up standing.

Use the Screen

If you like the idea of shooting from the hip, but don’t like the imprecision, try an in-between approach by shooting from waist level using the camera’s screen – flip it out and you’ll be able to look down at the camera instead of holding it out in front of you. Fewer people will catch you photographing in this way than with the camera to your eye – it just looks like you’re changing some settings.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos© Bryan Minear

You can also combine this technique with touch shooting, in which you focus and photograph by tapping your X Series camera’s touchscreen. Naturally, you need an X Series model with a touchscreen to achieve this. If your camera does:

  • Press MENU OK and navigate to the SET UP menu.
  • Make sure the TOUCH SCREEN SETTING option is set to ON.
  • Half-press the shutter button to return to shooting mode and make sure the touchscreen mode icon in the top right of the screen is set to SHOT.
  • Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photost
  • Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos
  • Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photost
  • Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos

You’ll now be able to focus and photograph with a single tap on the relevant part of the screen.

The Smartphone Method

The smartphone method is a further refinement that takes duplicity and subterfuge to the next level! It works like this:

  • Hang your camera around your neck so it’s pointing forwards at about chest height.
  • Fire up the FUJIFILM Camera Remote app on your smartphone and connect to your camera.
  • Tap the ‘Live view shooting’ icon and you’ll be able to see what your camera sees on the screen of your phone.
  • Take pictures using the controls on your phone. People will think you’re just checking your email, but really you can walk right up to them and photograph without anyone knowing.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos© Ilitch Peters

A Few Words of Warning…

In the USA, making pictures of people on the streets without their knowledge or consent is perfectly legal, but this isn’t the case in every country in the world, so if you are somewhere unfamiliar, be sure to check out the regulations before you photograph. There are also cultural sensitivities to be observed – in the US, photographing other people’s children without the consent of their parents is considered to be quite taboo, so it stands to reason it will be in many other countries, too. Indeed, photographing women is frowned upon in some countries. If in doubt, always play it safe.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Shooting Candid Street Photos
© Afton Almaraz

And if you get caught in pursuit of the perfect street photograph? It happens, and it’s best to just admit it. Explain what you were doing – most people will be understanding, even if they don’t quite understand the appeal of what you’re doing. And if they still don’t like it, apologize and offer to delete the pictures. It’s always best to de-escalate.

Your Next Steps

  • CHALLENGE Go out on the streets and get some street photography that really tells the story of the neighborhood you live in. Post your favorite images to social media with the hashtags #MyFujifilmLegacy and #street. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels.

Header image © Adrian Autencio