The secret to Street photography

August 29, 2017

Photography by Stephen Leslie


Starting in street photography is no easy task. Going from shooting landscapes and candid portraits into shooting strangers in the streets can be very intimidating. Nonetheless, once you learn how to take control of the situation this emotion turns into pure excitement and your eyes will identify new opportunities with every step.


Street photography was born out of the necessity to communicate a raw and realistic view of modern society, an almost biographical exhibition of a hungry generation that screamed to be listened to.


Even though this movement of seeking communication and global ethics is still alive, we cannot deny that social media and new technologies can be as effective as harmful to the reputation of photography. When we are constantly aware of the snap of a picture from a stranger’s phone, camera or even tablet, how do we keep it real? How can we capture raw emotions and continue the work that street photography started decades ago when we live in a constantly staged mode?


We had a chat with Stephen Leslie, photographer leader of Kilometre Zero Street photography workshop in London about this and much more.


Stephen, based in London and with his photography book SPARKS coming soon, has over 20 years of experience in Street photography and has been featured in numerous magazines and web-sites worldwide.


We asked Stephen if he thinks Street photography has changed over time and how new technology influences the original concept of Street Photography.


                 Photography by Stephen Leslie


It's difficult for me to comment with any authority about 'new technology'” said the photographer.  


“I'm a bit of a dinosaur because I still shoot on film and I think, in essence, that the concept of street photography should remain the same as it always has been: to try and capture candid,

un-posed life. The type of camera you have to accomplish this with should be irrelevant.” Stephen clarified.


“I suppose the major change in street photography at the moment is that social media means we can now see other people's work and share our own a lot quicker than ever before.” Told us Stephen. “I'm friends with photographers from all over the world, most of whom I've never actually met but I'm familiar with their photography from the internet. It's a great way of keeping yourself motivated or getting depressed that other people are working so much harder than you!” the photographer remarked.


So how do we separate Street photography wanting to create a global message when photography has broadly been capitalised by social media?
We asked Stephen how in his opinion, this field of photography varies depending on the country you are in? 


“Very much, and again the internet has just exploded the exposure we have to global street photography and some of the most interesting work at the moment is coming out of places such as Thailand, Russia and Greece, countries that previously we've only really seen through the eyes of foreign photographers but now we're getting to see them through the lenses of the people that actually live there, which is very exciting."


Photography by Stephen Leslie


And is true that becoming a successful photographer is somehow more accessible nowadays but Street photography requires much more than just camera gear and practice, so what is really the key to shooting a successful street photograph?


“That's almost an impossible question to answer, it's all just about practice really. The only way to be successful (whatever that actually means) is to go out and keep taking photographs as often as you can. Street photography should be about the unexpected. Everyone wants to capture a unique, unforgettable image and the only way to do that is to practice, practice and hope that you can recognise it and are ready when it happens.“ said Stephen.


So what are you waiting for? Join us and the talented Stephen Leslie this year for an amazing, raw and exiting Street photography workshop through the streets of London and learn how to conquer the streets and capture the essence of its people.



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