Free Resources for Street Photographers
Imagine, you’re in an unfamiliar area, snapping some photos when you see the perfect subject. They’re in a perfect position, standing in the perfect light, you have one chance, and the picture is overexposed. Worse yet, the person becomes angry at having their picture taken, and you’re forced to delete it while backing off with humble apologies. These scenarios are all too common for aspiring street photographers.
Fortunately, there are some new free resources for street photographers to help work out these problems and more. These free resources will give you the lowdown on not only tactics and techniques but equipment, philosophies, filters and other helpful assistance to take your photos to the next level.
Street photography, more than any other sub-genre, can be a difficult thing to start. It may seem like you need to be born with the instincts, or the gusto, to pull it off. Not so says Swiss street photographer Thomas Leuthard. As far as free resources for street photographers go, this is indispensable.
Included in the topics discussed in the book are:
- Prime Lenses – The benefits of shooting with a fixed lens with a larger zoom lens.
- Planning – How to plan your shoot to capture more captivating images
- Color vs. B&W – When and where to process the color in your photos for the maximum emotional impact
- The Law – How to stay safe when shooting on the street, as well as the legalities and ethics behind taking photos of strangers
- Marketing – Getting your photos out there and making sure they get the audience they deserve
- Exploring new places – Shooting and exploring in a new place in a safe and effective way
Leuthard discusses the different parts of street photography in depth and in simple terms to break it down and encourage confidence in even the greenest of street photographers. This is a truly inspiring read, and of course, it’s free.
Michael Ernest Sweet’s book, the ambitiously titled Street Photography Bible, outlines a simple introduction to, as Sweet claims, “[his] thoughts on all things street photography.” Instead of telling people what to do and how to do it, Sweet lays out his philosophy and method for capturing touching candid images. True to form, his Bible is an interpretive guidebook for a seemingly chaotic art. This free resource for street photographers includes:
- The Camera – Sweet discusses the benefits of a simple camera rig, in place of an overpriced professional setup.
- Film vs. Digital – An old debate at this point, but one that remains important nevertheless.
- Subjects – Both human and object, Sweet discuss the pros and cons of interacting with subjects and selecting visually stimulating topics.
- Technique – From composition to the use of a flash, Sweet discusses some unconventional methods for capturing the perfect moment.
Finding inspiration – Sweet also includes short stories about other street photographers. The alternate philosophies are a nice contrast and make his point nicely.
Of course, the book includes more, including other resources for photographers and advice on equipment. He even includes advice for shooting simply on the phone, the camera that’s always in your pocket. This tome is worth a pickup, especially at this price.
Swiss photographer Thomas Leuthard shows up multiple times on this list for a reason. With three books on street photography out to date, Leuthard knows what he’s doing. These free resources for street photographers are laid out and penned not by professionals with financial backing and state of the art equipment, but by artists like Leuthard, who are practical and down to earth. This book goes over some more specific aspects of taking street portraits, such as:
- How to Approach – Working with your subjects can be one of the toughest parts of shooting portraits, and Leuthard has excellent advice on how to deal with these awkward interactions.
- Ethics and Critics – Is it ok to take photos of this subject? This is an important question, not only legally but ethically. Leuthard discusses the ramifications of the images of others.
- Story – At the heart of every photograph is a story. A picture is worth 1,000 words after all, and Leuthard takes this to heart, discussing how to compose a portrait to best capture the stories of the subjects.
With his other free e-book, Going Candid, Leuthard gives general advice to taking photographs on the street. With this one he gets more specific, detailing methods and offering advice for close up portraits with human subjects. It’s another excellent resource for street photographers, aspiring or established.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of the power of Adobe Lightroom. This incredible app has revolutionized photography. To make it even more powerful, Contrastly has released a series of presets geared specifically towards street photography. This free resource for street photographers includes:
- B&W Film & B&W Sombre – Give your photos a hint of darkness or use the contrast to focus on the details.
- Cinematic Vintage – For a cinematic flare.
- Color Film – The vibrant color of a film in your digital photos.
- Saturated & Desaturated – Muted colors for a change of tone, or brighten your photos up to make the details stand out.
- Lomo – Give your photos an otherworldly feel.
- Retro Cold & Retro Warm – For a trip down memory lane.
- Hardcore – Add grit to your photos to really make them stand out from the crowd.
- Vibrant Cold & Vibrant Warm – For lush colors and an enhanced tone.
These presets fully integrate into your workflow and can provide the adjustments to take your images to the next level, definitely worth a download.
The best way to learn is to learn from those who came before. This collection of interviews and work from some of the best around makes this one of the best free resources for street photographers on this list. The participants include:
- Bryan Formhals – The editor and chief of the influential LPV Magazine and social media manager of B&H Photo, Formhals discusses what to look for in a photograph and what he’s learned in his diverse career.
- Julian Berman – Julian Berman’s photographs of his friend’s music collective Odd Future have been seen by millions on the cover of Billboard, and have graced the pages of Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and The Source. In this interview, Berman discusses the influence of place on his work and his personal expression.
- Laura Pannack – Pannack is a documentary photographer, who has received some awards for her stark photographs. She discusses her preferences and how she got started in artistic photography.
- Delphine Diaw Diallo – An emerging artist known for blunt, political work, Diallo makes instantly recognizable images that make the view stand up and take notice. She discusses how she went from having practically nothing to a successful young artist.
The free resources for street photographers on this list are all excellent, but applying the knowledge when it matters most can be the most difficult part. That’s where Tom Ang’s Travel Photographer’s Handbook comes in. It’s not free, but for the small cost of the book, you’ll receive invaluable tips on taking your photographs from emotionless vacation photos to stunningly emotional statements that will last.
Ang discusses how to separate the wheat from the chaff and make your photos stand out. He goes over the best equipment and techniques that are specific to travel photography, and to capturing the vision in your mind.