If you are like me and come from a relatively small town, heading into a big city to capture street scenes can feel both tremendously exciting and somewhat intimidating. As we learned in our September issue of Street Photography Magazine, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It simply means you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, you are taking a risk, which means you will learn and gain experience.
That said, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and reduce your nervousness when it comes time to move about in a crowded city. Consider the following tips, which are loosely based on the article “How to Move in Crowds” by John Cox, published in issue 10 of the magazine:
#1 Value Your Anonymity
On the streets of a big city, no one knows who you are. This can actually help you overcome any initial nervousness you feel. How so? Let’s say you’ve decided to try your hand at street photography in New York City. Even if you made a complete fool of yourself in, say, Upper East Side Manhattan, no one would have a clue who you are in Midtown, Upper West Side, or Greenwich Village, not to mention Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Coney Island…you get the idea. The point is you don’t need to stress about what people might think about you. Relax and feel comfortable knowing you have anonymity. (As you lose your stress, you’ll probably begin to notice that people react more favorably to a relaxed photographer than a tense, suspicious looking one too!)
#2 Find a Pocket
Sometimes you’ll find a pocket within a crowd, that is, a small open area between people. If you see one, get in it. This will give you time to identify an interesting subject and then wait for the right background to appear as you keep pace with the people around you.
#3 “The Hurry”
John mentioned another technique in his article, which he dubbed, “The Hurry.” If you want to avoid sneaking around and looking like a creeper, try walking like you are in a real hurry. John explains that, while this will draw more attention to you, it won’t draw attention to your camera, allowing you to get some nice shots taken from the hip. People don’t expect someone who is in a real hurry to be snapping photos along their way, which gives you the opportunity to capture up-close, natural expressions.
These are just three of the five tips John had to offer about how to move in crowds. If you would like to read the complete article click here and follow the instructions to download the issue.