Seize The Day: Advice on Street Photography by Angelo Ferrillo
To be a street photographer, it's not enough to just go out with a camera. It is necessary to seize the day, says Angelo Ferrillo, a professional photojournalist from Italy. He shares detailed tips on how to capture any day with the best pictures with Bird in Flight.
Was born in Naples, lives in Milan. Has been a full-time photographer since 2010. Never takes part in competitions, not interested. Uses Hasselblad X1D (ambassador) and Ricoh GR II. Was published in The Rolling Stone, GQ Italia, Fotocult, De Agostini Editori, and L’Uomo Vogue.
Know your equipment well. Knowing your equipment helps reduce the time it takes to capture a scene and therefore also helps you not to be seen and not pollute the scene.
Be confident about what you are doing. Showing confidence stops the subject from thinking that you are doing something prohibited, and therefore you can achieve excellent images even if you have to interact with subjects.
Always keep a watchful eye. Do not just look directly ahead. Often something can be happening further up or down. Look around curiously with an eye that is hungry for pleasure. Act like a curious tourist, even in your own home. This feeds the pleasure of taking photographs.
Never wonder. We live in a society where anything can happen and wonder can make this appear to be stronger and more characteristic of something that in reality is not there. What attracts our eyes does not have to seem extraordinary to us, but it has to be for the consumer of our images.
Traditions are fundamental. Whether in a new or old place, it is always nice to be able to translate traditions through images. You create a bond with the past by using the present, making the images live in the future.
There does not always need to be a human figure. In street photography, it is not essential for a human figure to be present, but it is fundamental to have the perception of human intervention in what you choose to frame.
Humor always brings a touch of magic. Many often play with backgrounds and scenery, making them interact with our subjects. The important thing is that this kind of interaction is as natural as possible. It only works if it is natural and intimate.
Tell the story of your subjects. Take notes. Very often, people who do street photography try not to be seen by their subjects. Try interacting with your subjects for a change, get them to tell you their stories and try to relate them to the image you are creating. The more notes you manage to take the better the experience you will have.
Light is the key to photography. Without it we would have no reason to exist. Photography is made of light and the more light that is in your photography, the more three-dimensional it will seem. Expose the highlights correctly to make contrasts between light and shadow that are pleasing to the eye.
Tiptoe into a story and make it fantastic. Every glance, every situation, and every person tells us a story. A photographer’s bravery lies in finding fluidity between the subject, the action, and the scenery in 1/125 [exposure in seconds — Ed.]. We can only read the stories of individual people by putting them together.
Seize the day. Street photography has a close connection to this saying. A smile, a moment of happiness, an instant that will be remembered by the subjects for life, and one that the photographer will carry with them, making anyone who sees the images part of that moment.
Knowing the laws of the countries where you are taking photographs is crucial. Each country has different laws. Learning about them and knowing the limits that must be obeyed when taking photographs helps when we are shooting and ensures we are doing so safely. It also helps in situations when we are confronted by a subject who, not knowing the laws, might think that taking photos is prohibited. Let’s make the whole world understand that taking photographs is possible, even according to the laws.
Interact with subjects and the scenery. Who said that good street photography must be exclusively true to life? I can tell a story even when directing the subjects to make the content stronger.
Use contrast. The stronger the contrasts are in your image, the more the seemingly chaotic content will become clean and orderly.
Stay in the same place where something is happening and truly experience it. Once you find a place, a corner, or a situation which attracts you, wait nearby for something interesting to happen. Take advantage of these instances and also change your shooting angles, so you can get a better shot.
Always have fun. Photography, especially street photography, must be a pleasure and you have to have fun with it. We should never feel let down if we come home without any photos we like on our card (or on our roll). Instead we should make a memory of the carefree day we spent looking around and experiencing our city. Once again: seize the day.