Find the street scene, then wait for actors
In a great deal of the best street photography work there is a special relationship between the setting and the people in it. We often find ourselves marvelling at these shots because not only is the composition elegant and convincing, but there is a person in ‘just the right’ place in the frame. There is a coming together of setting and event, and in the very best this carries the extra weight of a poignant meaning as setting and actor(s) create a frisson. Henri Cartier-Bresson is one such master of this technique.
There is a simple technique you can use to make this happen in your shots (not that I’m promising you’ll immediately become a Cartier-Bresson). You simply find a setting you like, paying attention to composition and the shapes in the frame, and wait for somebody to arrive, in the right place.
In the image above, I was struck by the scene and the view through the opening (the slanting tree caught my eye), long before anybody arrived. I realised I could use this technique and wait for somebody to walk into the frame. It took several attempts to get somebody in the right position, and the right somebody, posture particularly, at that. I enjoy the way the woman’s leaning stride echoes the leaning tree. This elevates the shot from a view that catches the eye to something more.
A great technique if you’re into street photography.