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December 21, 2011

Street photography: documenting the now

Taking pictures is something many of us do almost every day. Our pictures can range from everyday mundane acts to treasured moments – birthdays, reunions and even the unexpected.

via on Flickr

What if documenting the everyday lives of others became an art form? Street photography aims to do just that, and act as a mirror onto society. It’s about people, and what makes them interesting.

Street photography has been a recognised form of documentary photography from as far back as 1890, and it continues to grow. Back then budding street photographers shot using compact cameras, often held against their waists to avoid attracting the attention of the public while taking their candid camera shots.

The increasing quality of cameras found on smartphones has made the artform even more popular, with competitions for the best shots cropping up across the world. In recent years it’s become a popular pastime for visitors to India, where many welcome the attention of a budding photographer. Hendra Lauw, a Singapore based photographer recently captured some incredible shots of Street Dentistry taking place in the Indian city of Bangalore.

Going where the cameras can’t

Despite the increase in popularity of digital SLR cameras many budding photographers are finding themselves unwelcome across many photography hotspots.

via Cyril Cavalié on Flickr

In London DSLR photographers find themselves unwelcome across many places of interest., a popular photography blog asked ‘Why does Transport for London hate DSLRs‘:

Tim Allen, a Kent-based photographer took a tour of the fabled Aldwych Underground Station yesterday. The station’s been closed for years, but it has been used recently for training events and films (think V for Vendetta). TfL also occasionally opens it to the public, at a price.  When you’re going on a tour of a disused underground station, taking a few photos wouldn’t exactly be out of the question, would it? Except that T.F.L won’t let you take them with a DSLR. To quote the sign outside the station yesterday:

‘Due to their combination of high-quality sensor and high-resolution, digital SLR cameras are unfortunately not permitted inside the underground station’.

Get started

Modern street photographers use a variety of compact cameras, but many use their smartphones for spontaneous snaps. Haje Jan Kamps offers some useful tips on getting started, including blending into the crowd and getting the most from using a phone as your main device:

Street photography across the world

Despite some of the challenges of taking pictures in public, street photography continues to grow in popularity. Competitions have taken place in cities as far flung as Beirut, and there’s even an aptly named “Hardcore Cellphone Street Photography” group over on Flickr.

Go out and experiment

Remember that although one of the purposes of street photography is to document real life, if you plan to make money from your photographs you should consider asking the permission of the people you’ve taken pictures of. Taken a great pic? Share it with us in the comments section or @Nokia_Connects.