This was originally written and published for Out of Chicago. The article is republished here with search engines blocked and canonical set to the original published article. It is here for archival purposes and so my community can find it too.
I know you’re looking forward to Out of Chicago. It’s going to be an amazing few days!
But there are a lot of great street photography classes and photowalks, which might make you nervous. I say that because if you’re like me then you are uncomfortable in situations that get you up close and personal with random strangers on the street.
So today let’s put away the idea that you have to talk to those strangers. Or get in their faces. Today, let’s take a step back (pun intended) and think about street photography from the opposite spectrum.
The rest of this article is going to offer some advice on how to prepare yourself for the Out of Chicago street photography photowalks when you’re not an extrovert. This means you are either an introvert or an ambivert.
The camera you bring with you doesn’t matter. If you’re using an iPhone choose an app like Filmborn which gives you the ability virtually change lenses up to 50mm.
Otherwise, it doesn’t matter if you’re using a cropped sensor or a full frame. In fact, many times with street photography the smaller the camera, the less you would stand out. And as an introvert, that’s a nice thing.
While I love the 35mm focal length, it’s not always ideal when thinking the opposite of an extrovert. 35mm and 50mm are common extroverted street photography focal lengths.
Ideally, you will want wider or longer lenses as an introvert or ambivert. With a wider lens, you can frame an wide scene and have the subject matter take up a tiny portion of it. Or you can use a longer lens, like an 85mm prime, and stand far back to photograph your subject.
If you only have a long telephoto, that will do as well. It’s just going to be a bigger lens physically. So you might stand out more.
Drop the Bag
I recommend staying extremely light. If you can, do not bring a bag. Pack an extra battery and memory card in a pocket. For your camera, you should use a wrist strap, belt clip (from Spyder Holster or Peak Design), or a neck strap.
But removing a bag from the equation frees you up to do walk around more, not feel tethered to something, and also remove some attention from you as a photographer.
If you prefer a bag, then I recommend either a small shoulder bag (if your back approves of it) or a lightweight backpack like this one from MindShift Gear.
As someone who won’t be in the faces of people on the street, you have the opportunity to think ahead. So take advantage.
While you’re walking around the beautiful streets of Chicago, look ahead of you. Look for a potential background. Think about what would go well in front of it.
For example, if you see a brick wall with bright red graffiti, it could be the perfect opportunity for someone wearing white to walk by. Or maybe someone on a bicycle.
Create Something Awesome
These are just a few of the things you should consider when approaching street photography without feeling uncomfortable.
You don’t have to limit yourself in any way. Just think about how you approach photography in general. Think about how you feel in certain situations. Then go out, have fun, and put the skills you have, and the skills you’ll learn at Out of Chicago to good use.