If you like what you read, please this article so it reaches more deviants
An extract from Tony Ray Jones's www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/… notebook contains some interesting tips to take better street photos:
BE MORE AGGRESSIVE
GET MORE INVOLVED (TALK TO PEOPLE)
STAY WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER (BE PATIENT)
TAKE SIMPLER PICTURES
SEE IF EVERYTHING IN BACKGROUND RELATES TO SUBJECT MATTER
VARY COMPOSITIONS AND ANGLES MORE
BE MORE AWARE OF COMPOSITION
DON'T TAKE BORING PICTURES
GET IN CLOSER (USE 50mm LESS)
WATCH CAMERA SHAKE (shoot 250sec or above)
DON'T SHOOT TOO MUCH
NOT ALL AT EYE LEVEL
NO MIDDLE DISTANCE
"Don't take boring pictures" is my favorite point.
Why are there boring street photos? Well, mostly because there are some simple or catchy situations that have been photographed countless times, becoming recurrent, redundant, cliché themes. These photos become boring because they look all the same, they don't add anything new or original to the theme, they have been seen over and over again. Sometimes they are uninteresting because there is no thought behind them.
A few examples of overdone street photos?
Beggars begging and homeless sleeping: they have been photographed countless times. Alone or with people passing by, showing indifference. Many times juxtaposed with a symbol of consumerism or occidental society (Cartier, Mc Donald's and so on). There are countless reiterations of this kind of photos in the net.
By now the beggars on Charles Bridge in Prague must have more fashion books than the best paid models in the world.
The fact is that taking photos of a person sitting still, facing the ground, is not that challenging, it is way too easy.
Not to mention that taking photos of people sleeping or too wasted to notice or care of what you are doing...it is a bit like picking on the weakest. Take aim at the easy target. 'Shooting at the Red Cross' as we say in italian. Well, you got it.
There are of course exceptions. Photos where more than one layer conveys a message, photos from where you don't get the feeling of having stepped on a person's dignity. See:
People photographed from the back:
Shooting from the back has the advantage to avoid contact with your subjects, and to sneak on their back without being seen. It is also the best recipe for boring pictures. Backs aren't very expressive, nor especially interesting to look at. If you take photos from the back, do it with a meaning, do it because that angle is the best way to convey the message of your photo (I am NOT talking of women's butts here). See:
Pigeons: did you know that there are 310 species of it? Browse street photos for a while and you'll know them all. Pigeons make for catchy images with kids chasing after them, they give some dynamism to the image flying around. But, come on, who doesn't have a memory photo as a kid chasing after pigeons in a square? We all have. That's the point. See:
Shadows offer countless chances for good photos. They can be tricky, surreal, puzzling, revealing, hiding, distorting. Without necessarily being upside-down. If the trick of flipping a photo upside down is the only thing that makes the photo...you'll just have a boring photo upside-down. See:
"Wait for the rain, it makes shooting on the street easier and more interesting." - Martin Parr
The hard truth is that we can't all be Martin Parr. Wonderful photos can be taken in the rain, as the rain can create an exhilarating, thrilling atmosphere, and as umbrellas can form interesting patterns or splashes of color. So, there really is no need to make always the same rainy photo featuring a central composition with a person in the middle of a path/road/street in the middle of the frame, photographed from the back while walking under the umbrella... See:
Couple kissing, good looking women. Nothing wrong with them. I am just jealous Though it is not easy to avoid cliché photos with these subjects.
People passing in front of signs or posters or graffiti.
Well, let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Who did never give in to the temptation of a catchy juxtaposition of person + billboard? Though not always the combination people + poster works. Let's aim a bit higher and at least capture the right person at the right moment passing in front of the right poster. I mean, the poster isn't going anywhere, so it really is just a matter of patience and thinking. See:
That said...'Never ignore a cliché'! (Artem Zhitenev) still applies.
I'd never renounce to take a potential good photo just because it was taken countless times before. I'd never renounce to take a potential good photo, period. There always are exceptions to the rule, and also a cliché photo can be beautiful, iconic, full of imagery.