Tips on Street Photography from Bogotá

Street Photography is somewhat new to me, since the bulk of my experience has been photographing children and families. I’m learning a lot while shooting on the street, and here are some tips and methods I’ve developed for myself.

Daughter watching her father make pizzas. We love his pizzas!}

Shoot What Counts

Before moving to Colombia, I was guilty of being trigger happy while shooting. Here in Bogota, I’m learning to shoot what counts. I can’t always pull out my camera whenever I spot something interesting because we’re in a hurry, or there are too many people around.

Two Rollbladers in a Plaza

I ask myself these essential questions before I take aim.

-Is this interesting to me?
-Do I have a unique point of view to share with viewers?
-Essentially, is this worth it?
In many ways, I’m still a beginner, but I’m learning to curb the urge to shoot for fun and focus on shooting something of significance that tells a story or communicates a feeling or ideal.

Lucy and her children waiting for the bus
Be Bold, Smile, & Just Ask
I’m overcoming my fear of rejection and concerns of what people might think. In almost all instances where I’ve approached someone on the street, and asked permission to take their photograph, they’ve been excited to cooperate. (I always try to ask permission FIRST, before pulling out my camera.) I approach subjects with a big smile, and I keep smiling while I speak to them in my broken Spanish.

1. Present quickly and succinctly who you are, what your purpose is, and why you’d love to take their picture. For example, I quickly explain to subjects that I am from the United States, and I would love to photograph them for my blog.
2. Give them some direction. Even if you don’t know the language too well (like me), you can use hand gestures. Then, shoot! I once only shot two pictures of someone,  because they were waiting for a bus. I acted as fast as I could while obtaining the results I wanted.

3. Show them the photo. This makes the smile and feel even more comfortable.
4. Get their email address & some personal information so you can stay in touch and also describe who they are.
5. Follow up within a couple of days through email. No longer than a week!

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