Street Photography


I travel a lot, and love street photography. How do I get away from the touristy pictures that I always seem to end up with?

Answer by: S L Shanthkumar, Photojournalist

It’s a good old rule that the more time you spend with your subject, the better your photographs will be. However, one should realise the difference between taking a photograph and making one. I believe that our visual culture—our common way of approaching subjects, such as using the slow shutter in the camera to capture firecrackers during festivals—influences how we see things. We are used to seeing these clichéd images on a daily basis.

To break this pattern, we need to unlearn certain styles that we have conveniently adopted so far. It is always important to see good images and learn the techniques employed in them. But you also have to keep
in mind to never repeat the frames that have inspired you. When you are travelling, conducting research of the place, knowing its history, or watching local news channels, or reading newspapers, will help you approach an ordinary subject in a different way. Once you’ve gathered enough knowledge, you will be able to see the places differently, and not as a tourist.

In street photography, a moment is everything. With experience, you can develop the expertise involved in knowing when to anticipate action in a situation. I believe that for every street photographer, there are a few days when you return home empty-handed. It’s okay if you don’t come across a good, compelling moment. Sometimes you have to give yourself a little space to relax, or distance yourself from the subject.

An infant was carried in a bucket by his father, at Dadar, Mumbai. As a photojournalist who has been shooting daily life for a while now, the city never ceases to amaze me. Photograph/S L Shanthkumar