Do you remember the last really impressive street photos that you saw in an exhibition, in a book or online? What did they have in common?
A balanced composition, sure – the right timing, yes, that is also part of it – but mostly we are fascinated by photos that have everything: composition, timing, preferably something that triggers emotions like direct eye contact and ultimately: the right light or . Weather.
Here I would like to give you 7 tips on how you can get better photos by only going out in extreme weather conditions:
1. Bright Sun – Let Sunny Rule 16 work for you
My favorite time for street photography is early in the morning or in the late afternoon on cloudless days, when the sun is low and you can only see the silhouettes of the oncoming passers-by in the backlight .
I do not take photos in automatic mode in such light situations, as you can underline the effect of photos with the appropriate manual exposure. My favorite settings here are aperture 11 or 16, exposure 1/500 to 1/1000 at ISO 400. This is how you get high-contrast, depth-emphasized, expressive street photos.
2. Search for light situations – not for locations
In extreme light conditions such as bright sun, you should not choose a specific location to take photos there. You may miss out on the best photos along the way!
I therefore pay attention to lighting situations that can often change within a few minutes and position myself there, look for the best position and image section and wait there for passers-by. When the light changes, I move on and look for the next corner with ravishing light that gives me the harsh contrasts I’m looking for.
3. Be patient
When you have found a spot with good light: don’t lose patience! Stay there for at least 10 to 20 minutes or until the lighting situation worsens. On days when I found fantastic spots with unique light and then walked on after a few minutes because nobody came, I was always annoyed in the evening that I hadn’t waited longer. Because often the situation you are waiting for comes exactly at the moment you put the camera away.
4. rain? Bring an umbrella
That might sound obvious, but I live in Berlin and many people here find it too “uncool” to carry around an umbrella. Instead, you walk through the rain with a deep hood or “topless” and save yourself the shower in the evening.
But there is another reason why I am always out and about with an umbrella besides the rain protection: You are more inconspicuous and are seen more as part of the crowd running through the rain than as a photographer. This allows you to be less noticeable. In addition, the screen can be used as an effect in one or the other photo when you are bored and nothing is happening in front of your eyes.
5. Be the first
When it starts to rain or snow, grab your camera if you can and catch the first passers-by, surprised by the rain, running through the streets. Is it starting to storm? Even better. Now no one pays any attention to a street photographer standing around, because everyone is just busy recording their belongings.
When there is snow, it is of course nicer to hold on to the unused variant without footprints and mud. Here you can better cut out individual passers-by in front of the background. In snow, of course, make sure that you overexpose it slightly.
6. The most extreme weather: gray skies
The most extreme weather for me is a gray sky, because then it is extremely difficult to take really good street photos home. Instead of exciting light situations, you will only find mud, gray and gloom. But even then, if you had enough motivation to leave the house, you can take good photos:
Watch out for reflections on cars, window panes or side mirrors or go to a busy place where you practice the master class of street photography : Working with the foreground, middle and background, i.e. several layers in the style of Alex Webb. You don’t necessarily need great light for this, but good luck and patience. Train stations are ideal for this, or places with a “clean” background such as beaches.
7. Don’t take photos if you don’t feel like it
Most street photographers do not take photos for a living, but because it is simply their passion and it is incredibly fulfilling to see how your portfolio grows and grows. Therefore: If you don’t feel motivated to take photos despite the best (extreme) weather conditions, then don’t do it! Otherwise you will spoil the joy of photography in the long run if it becomes a duty. Sun, rain and snow will be back sooner than you think!