2016-11-08

Street Photography Tips: How to shoot discreetly and respectfully at events, parades & ceremonies

Remembrance Day is a time of reflection and contemplation filled with emotion for all those involved, whether you're respecting a minute's silence at work or attending a ceremony across the country. 

Emotional scenes can often lend themselves well to street photography, providing photographers with images full of depth, feeling and interesting subject matter. However, many attendees at Remembrance Day ceremonies will not want their photograph taken and it can be disrespectful and intrusive to be shooting thousands of frames with a big DSLR camera and long lens. 

Steve Marley from Park Cameras in London offers his words of advice for anyone wanting to photograph a Remembrance Day ceremony while remaining discreet and, most importantly, respectful of your subjects. 


Street photography is one of the most popular genres of photography but it is one that’s causes some issues for photographers. 

By its nature, Street Photography involves taking photographs of people that you do not know and do not necessarily expect their image to be captured.

So, what is the best way to approach this?



A good place to start would be to attend a festival or parade. Here, the participants will be expecting to have their image captured and you have the added benefit of the spectators who will be paying attention to the parade rather than to you.

For street photography, the accepted wisdom is to use a camera & lens combination with a focal length around the 28-50mm mark (in 35mm full frame terms).

If you're looking for a camera to use for street photography then there are many models which are ideal and unobtrusive such as the Leica Q, Fuji X100T, Olympus OM-D E-M10-II, Panasonic GX-80, Fuji X-Pro 2.

All of these will produce top quality results and are virtually silent in operation.

Importantly, they're not big DSLRs which can be intimidating for your subject. A big camera and big lens is hard to hide and tends to put people on their guard. 


However, if you do have a DSLR and want to use this then I would suggest using a compact prime lens – something like the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX lens for a DX format Nikon camera or the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 for a Canon APS-C DSLR.

Fuji users have lots of potential lens candidates to use including the new Fuji 23mm f/2, Fuji 35mm f/2 and their f/1.4 models in the same focal lengths. Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras have access to some stunning optics including the Olympus 17mm f/1.8, Panasonic/Leica25mm f/1.4 and the Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 for instance.

You can rely on your cameras AF system or alternatively set a small aperture, say f/11, and leave the lens manually focused on around 2.5 metres and then everything from approximately 1m – infinity will be in focus.

Remember to ensure you're using a sufficiently fast shutter speed by raising your cameras ISO as required.


Candid images, where your subject is unaware that you are taking their picture are a great way to approach street photography, but should your subject notice you then a quick look over your camera and a smile will often be enough to defuse any awkwardness. However, if your subject react angrily then it is worth being apologetic and offering to show them the image you have taken – it is polite then to offer to delete the image if they still object.

Making use of your camera's rear LCD screen, especially if it's articulated, is a great way to be discreet, especially if your camera is also mirrorless with a silent shooting option. You can look down at your camera and appear to be engrossed in settings or image review while you compose your image on the screen. Many cameras also offer touch AF and/or touch shutter enabling you to touch the rear screen image to focus on the subject and take the image.


If you're not comfortable with shooting candidly, or if it's not appropriate to the situation, then you can always try to engage with your subject and ask them whether they mind you taking their picture. If they say yes then you've got the shot, and if they say no then you haven't lost anything and you can move on. 

You can also try picturing people against interesting backgrounds – street art murals for instance work well. Position yourself with your camera all set up to take the shot and wait for the subject to enter the frame.


You can also of course keep your distance and use a long lens to isolate your subject. This can work really well in crowded situations as it allows you to eliminate distracting backgrounds, for example the Lord Mayor's show in London is an excellent photo opportunity with lots of potential subjects and opportunities to juxtapose your subject again an interesting background.


Another great event to attend with lots of potential subjects is the Rochester Dickensian Christmas Festival which happens on the first week of December every year. Literally hundreds of people dressed as Dickens characters and thousands of spectators make rich pickings for your camera.


At this time of year with Remembrance Sunday just around the corner you may want to capture some images with your camera. Our advice is to be extremely cautious and respectful as for many people this is an emotional day and you must be respectful of their wishes.

Street photography is something that requires practice, so the more you do the easier it will be come and the better your results as your eye for a picture or situation develops.


If you feel like some instruction on street photography would be useful and help to build your confidence, come along to one of our Park Cameras Photo Walks for only £20.

There are also street photography walks run by photographers such as Rob Pugh and Damien Demolder which will help you get started.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For those of you who are interested the guy playing the accordion in this article is Mike Ruff. He was appearing as part of the Music Hall duo Allcock & Brown. Nice to know that we provided such a good photo op and that we were an example to you all

Post a Comment