Street photography is not a new genre, however it became known in Vancouver more widely in the 1930’s.  This is when  depression era studio photographers were forced by economics to take to the streets and take candid photos of people to try and get them to contact the photographer later to buy the photo.  These enterprising photographers handed out tickets that could later be matched with the photographers copy of the ticket to retrieve the photo for the client. This is roughly when the term “walking portrait” came into common use.      I have done several street photography missions into the busy streets of Vancouver and I think have become hooked on the style. The 70-200mm zoom lens provides a comfort zone of space for shy street photographers like myself.   The featured image is an example of “taking what you can get” as my shutter speed was low enough to get some great motion blur but my panning really helped get the shot.  I was set up to shoot a building and saw the cyclist just hauling ass toward me. I didn’t have any time to react and change camera settings.  I just wheeled my camera and massive 70-200mm lens around, panned and punched the trigger. Settings: Aperture: f/11 shutter speed 1/10sec focal length: 108mm ISO: 200.  I like the effects caused by the blur even though photo critics would say it’s “out of focus” but in this case that’s the whole charm of the shot excessive motion blur. I like it 😀 looks cool.

The next shot below I got from a distance using the 70-200mm lens. The ladies standing next to me on a walking bridge were waving to 2 ladies down below so I asked hey should I grab a photo of your friends. They said sure, so I did.


As it turns out the gal on the left was packing a Nikon D800 that was giving an error message when she turned it on so she handed it to me when she walked up the stairs to meet her friends.  She asked me a bunch of questions about her camera and I gave her my card and some advice on how to clean her sensor and interior of the camera body. Hopefully she sees her photo at one of my online image galleries.

The next  photo was taken from a distance and then tightly cropped really pushing the limits of the lens capabilities.

Tightly cropped distance shot. f/5.0 1/320sec 200mm ISO 400

Below is the original image showing the full context shot I got from the walking bridge.

Street shot f/5.0 1/320sec 200mm ISO 400

I actually like the full image as it shows the story of the place. The jappadog going head to head with A&W people walking etc. However, the cropped photo shows what you can do to take a street shot and turn it into a candid portrait.

Below I got two straight up portraits of two ladies who walked the bridge. These are how I framed them in the viewfinder.  I was pretty close about 50 feet for first shot and 20 feet for the second shot.  At 70mm focal length the second shot shows that I clearly was “busted” giving me a look but they didn’t say anything.  The first shot they may not have noticed a dude with a massive lens 50 feet away as they were looking to the side.  This is why I like the 70-200mm lens. If I had used my  50mm lens I would have had to stuff the camera right in there faces and invade their space a bit.  I am way to shy for that.  The big lens allows more comfort zone both for the subject and the photographer.  I may use the 50mm when I get better at approaching people.

Street shot f/5.0 1/800sec 200mm ISO 400
Street shot f/5.0 1/2500sec 70mm ISO 400

If people ask me not to take their photo I don’t.  This happened once on this outing on the bridge and I respected the person.  Then I spotted the ladies above further along the bridge chatting. that’s when I got the first shot of the ladies above.  Later they simply walked by as I was framing a shot of the docks and mountains so I re focused and punched the trigger. I find portraits more interesting than landscapes. 😉

Below is a shot of a couple I asked to take a photo of at Barnett marine park so nice of them to let me take this one. They are so cute.

Candid Portrait f/8.0 1/60sec 151mm ISO 640


Lastly, a sneaky shot of a fellow photog on a photo walk at Barnett park.

Candid Portrait f/8.0 1/80sec 200mm ISO 800

All the photos in this article were captured in Natural Light only.  In summary when shooting people as a subject for street photography I recommend starting with a good 70-200mm lens until you are used to approaching people and engaging them enough to allow you to get close with a 50mm lens to frame a decent portrait.  For buildings I tend to switch to a 50mm lens.

All images are copyright Rebel Optics Photography