Enjoy the great outdoors – and shoot it at the same time
To have a go at street photography, you don't have to necessarily be standing in the road when you take your shot. Though definitions vary, broadly speaking we can describe street photography as documenting life in public places – like a market, a bus stop, a cinema (yes, indoors too), a train station, a festival and yes, of course, a street.
Shots are usually candid, but don't always have to be, though posed shots could be better described as "street portraiture".
Street photography gives you the chance to express your artistic side (if you think you don't have one, definitely give it a try – you might uncover a hidden talent) and also helps you to open your eyes to your surroundings.
Through trying various techniques, you'll eventually happen upon a style that suits you. If you're nervous snapping strangers because you're worried about how they might react, then the solution's simple – don't photograph people.
However, by keeping human subjects out of the frame, you'll be cutting your opportunities down drastically. See photographing people as a chance to take yourself out of your comfort zone and hopefully develop your personal skills in the process.
The fact is, most people are cool about having their picture taken. If someone catches you taking their shot, smile and show them your picture, start a conversation, explain what you're up to; you could even offer to send them the shot.
Inspiration Just walking the streets without a firm idea of the kind of shots you're looking for can make it difficult. It's best to set yourself a project to give your afternoon of street shooting some focus, so to speak.
A popular idea is to shoot images where a single colour dominates the frame. Not only does this help train the mind to look for one type of subject, it also makes for a nice collection at the end.
Alternatively, you could choose a location like a market and try to portray a day's trading through photos.
For some ideas of what can be achieved, check out this set of photos on Flickr, showing some fabulous images taken on the London tube network. Check this site out too, and this one. By the way, to be a good street photographer, you don't have to shoot in black and white.
Your gear could have an influence on your style. A DSLR with a telephoto lens will probably mean there'll be a fair bit of space between you and your subject, so in most cases they'll never know you're taking their picture.
But a 'big' camera is by no means necessary to have a go at street photography. In fact, in many cases, the smaller the better. Big cameras with long lenses tend to draw attention, which can soon ruin a situation where you're trying to be discreet.
Today's smartphone cameras are perfect for shooting on the street – they're light and easy to carry, people around you hardly ever notice you're using them, and most of them these days produce excellent quality pictures.
If, after a few photo sessions, you find it's a hobby you want to continue with, consider making some small cards, one side with a photo you've taken, the other showing your website (more on websites later). These will be great for breaking the ice with any subjects you start chatting with and show you're serious about what you're doing.
When you get home and load you photos onto your computer, be brutal in the editing process. If you took 100, choose the best 10. If 99 are rubbish – out of focus, poorly framed, poorly composed – delete them. Work instead with the photos you do like.
However, try to understand what it is you don't like about the poor shots in order that you can do better on your next outing. Also, in some cases, what looks to be an uninteresting shot could come alive with little more than a simple crop or contrast adjustment.
Once you have some images you're proud of, don't leave them hidden away on your hard drive. Get them on the Web for the world to see. Start a blog, or build a static site. Put them on Flickr, 500px, or one of the many other photo sites.
Explore work by other photographers and learn from others. Street photography isn't for everyone, but until you give it a try, you won't know. It may just be the best thing you ever did.