How I Shoot is a new series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about their photo-taking process. We’re excited to kick it off with Anthony D., who is known throughout the Instagram community for the candid street photos of New Yorkers he shares to Instagram as @takinyerphoto. In fact, he’s taken so many shots of New Yorkers that his followers have recognized friends, coworkers, and even themselves in his photos. We’ve always been curious to learn more about Anthony’s process, and he kindly agreed to share a few pointers for other photographers out there who are interested in learning more about street photography. We’ll let Anthony take it from here…
Working in New York City, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t see a photo opportunity. I’ve come to learn that there are three “P”s when it comes to taking candid pictures on the street: preparation, patience, and practice.
It’s important to be ready before the moment the you want to capture. That means having not only your phone out, but having your camera app of choice ready to go. Keep your eyes open — in front, behind, to the left and to the right — for situations and subjects that you think would make for an interesting photograph. If you keep your eyes ahead 10 or 15 feet, you’ll be able to set yourself up in the right position to get a strong image. When it comes to taking the shot, make sure to exhale before you shoot and focus your attention on keeping the phone straight and steady as long as you can after you let go of the shutter button. I’ve found this to help produce a stronger image. Tapping the screen to direct its focus might be more trouble than it’s worth; the iPhone does a great job of directing its focus to a subject on its own so the more open space between you and the subject the better. Make sure there is plenty of light on your subject. It helps to be on the sunny side of the street; you’ll get crisper images and much less noise than you would on the shadow-covered side.
Patience is a virtue, and one you come to appreciate in taking candid street photos. First, it takes time to become comfortable taking strangers’ pictures, getting over the fear of “OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY SEE ME?!” There are no pointers I have for that — either you’re over it or you’re overreacting. People believe that in order to take candid street photos you have to be sneaky and stealthy, but I think it’s quite the opposite. The more natural you act, the better the result; you’re just taking a picture, not their soul.
Let the pictures come to you rather than going out looking for them. I’d say on average I take anywhere from 30 to 50 pictures a day in 90 minutes worth of shooting. Out of that I turn maybe four or five into Instagrams I’m proud to show to the world. Not every shot is going to be good. This is especially true when you’re first starting out, but with practice and patience you can find your own style that works best for you. On average, I’d say I still miss more shots than I actually get because the picture’s blurry, the subject isn’t looking, or it’s just an unflattering photo. That’s the beauty and curse of candid street photography: capturing incredible characters and situations in their natural state or missing the chance all together.
I saw this fashionable woman hailing a cab so I pulled up probably about 5 feet away and took her picture. The low angle comes from me shooting from the hip.
This photo was taken on an overcast day, which is how you get that blurry background, but the iPhone was able to focus on the man and keep him sharp enough for the picture to work.
As I was walking down 42nd St., I saw this well-dressed man standing on the corner and thought he’d make for an interesting capture. So I walked in front of him as he waited for the crosswalk and took a picture as I passed him.
This woman was actually behind me. I tried to get as far ahead of her as possible so I could fit her whole body into the frame — I just turned and snapped a photo when we came to the crosswalk.
I saw the big hat on the well-dressed girl and had to take a picture. I waited for her to start to go across the crosswalk and happened to catch not only her but a few others too. The rainy day really does a lot for the lighting and overall mood I think.
This girl was sitting at the fountain listening to music and the fountain turned against her and she got up to move while I was taking the shot. It’s a case of right place, right time.
The photo of Anthony at the top of this post was taken by @anthonyquintano