There are NO 100% guaranteed tricks in photography. I, as a photographer prefers to talk more about serendipity in photography. Street photography stands by it’s own. If you find a great place in a big city with many things happening around, then most probably, you’re going to get some good pictures of that place and capture the moment. So, why not try and go to busy places in cities.
When I travel to a new country or city, I never do a lot of photographic research, I only want to know if I’m going to a place where people avoid, or not, to be photographed. Usually, I feel more excited when I figure that the city where I’m going to be is challenging… I care about this, because I think people are getting sick of being photographed in their lives. We can see a lot of photographers everywhere in hunting mode; this mode does not go well with street photography. Although it’s impossible to present ourselves to everybody we photograph, I think that when we want to get an intimate result in our photographs, and we must try to show that we are photographing that person. There’s always the common problem of people not being “natural” when they see a camera; so just be around for a couple of minutes and you’ll notice that they’ll be more comfortable and relax. I can assure you that if somebody in front of your lens is ok with it,then it’s an unspoken approval. It’s important to feel and interpret body language of people when we point them the camera; when we raise a camera, we ask them something and usually, we get a genuine response.
Wear nice shoes, comfortable clothes and straps, for me, these are always more important than a great camera. Photography is about what we feel, the camera is only an important piece of the equation, it’s nice if you’re “comfortable” with your camera too. Being “comfortable” with your camera means you’re used to it that it almost becomes an extension of your body. So don’t buy a new camera and go on a trip because it will take some time to get used to it. Out there, street photographers are like reporters trying to capture unique moments, losing some of those moments is usually frustrating, and we sometimes we lose a lot of those. Take a camera you can instinctively work with. I get better results when I take a few equipment. Two cameras with one lens each, is my main set. I usually have a camera with a 35mm lens and another with a 105mm.
I think it’s easy to cheat to an audience if we want to, but if you do this then you’re cheating on yourself. When we present a photograph, people don’t know how we did it; they don’t know if we did a big crop on that for recomposing, they don’t know what lens we’ve used, they don’t know if that photo shows some kind of a real moment or was staged. It’s not bad to do whatever you want in photography if you assume that. But it’s bad when you cheat yourself. That makes you grow badly in photography.
I make some use of discipline when I’m going to photograph. On a week trip to photograph, I use both cameras with two or three different lenses on my pack on the first day; second day, I take one camera with one lens, next day another lens… the last day is usually like the first, with all the stuff. This discipline creates a new way to see things; makes me more creative and enhances my capacity of resolving. It’s nice to deal with different kind of visions in different days.
I’ve been talking about trips or “nice places in nice cities”, but mostly, we don’t need to go of out to streets to make beautiful photographs. Just look around, there are always new things to see and to be seen. Sometimes I prefer to go to small streets in my town because few things are happening at the same time, and I can put my attention on the daily moments that can produce great images. After hours photograph it’s a good choice too, most people are going home, we are leaving home to photograph some people like us. Trying to have different approaches to the same theme, produces different results of that theme, and it’s probably, the best tool to draw a divergent path in photography.
No tricks, no formulas; just instinct. With time we learn to position ourselves on the “stage” to get the audience. Again, I’m thinking the other way around. In fact, is the way that works for me. People say that it’s about thinking outside the box; I think it is. It’s like paying attention to the abstract, the mundane, the common. Connecting points, curves, and perspectives in the air, helps you to get a better photographer. Cleaning the frame from things you don’t need in the picture, it’s a good way to start doing simple from complex. I think photography is never completely real, because we have several options when we are framing reality; If I’m going to show just a piece of whats happening, I’ll try to do it the best way I can. I think about elegance, charm, and beauty. These complex concepts are related with everyone in different ways, but I think we can learn and exercise them our way. Being available to learn from your instinct, it’s essential.
Rui Caria was born in Nazaré in 1972. In 2005, he moved to Terceira Island in the Azores. He works in visual journalism for a main television channel. Rui collaborates as a photojournalist with some national and international newspapers. His photographic work is internationally recognized by the editors of major photo sites such as National Geographic, the 500px, 1x, Getty Images and Leica Fotografie International.