2018-07-12

Street Photography photo walk with Olympus

At Park Cameras we love running events, so when we ran our street photography photo walk around Brighton with Olympus product specialist- and street photography extraordinaire - Jez Sugars, we couldn’t resist tagging along.

By the end of the day I finally plucked up the courage to ask a stranger if I could take their portrait!




The day started with a coffee and a briefing in our very own camera studio, in our Burgess Hill store. Jez ran us through his background in street photography, including some fine work from a recent trip to Cape Town (South Africa).

He ran through some of the principles that shape his work – the importance of portraying a narrative, juxtaposing modern life against historical locations, and an overview of good (and bad!) interactions with the subjects he shoots.

Jez Sugars - see links to his work at the bottom of the article


Unsurprisingly, everyone on the course was pretty reticent about taking photos of strangers. Straight away we felt we were in the same boat, and this helped bring a surprising comradery as the day unfolded.

There was a mixture of abilities, but importantly everyone made the most out of asking each other, and of course getting advice from Jez. The more advanced users were able to get on with their own thing when Jez was addressing the group.

A walk in the Park (ha!) with Olympus  


The event was in association with Olympus, and I soon realised I was in the minority of not being a regular Olympus user! Not to worry - there was plenty of kit available for everyone to borrow, and I got my hands on the Olympus E-M1 MKII, with a 12-40 f/2.8. What better way to immerse yourself in a new system than to jump straight in?!

The benefits of having everyone using the same system became clear throughout the day - every attendee came away discovering something that was hidden away in the menu. It’s a great way to get to know your camera.

Getting inventive with framing. Also a great way to be stealthy!

This isn’t a camera review, but if you were curious on my thoughts – I had no problem getting to grips with the kit, and found myself impressed with the lightness, build quality, and speed of both the autofocus and the responsive processing power on the E-M1 MKII.

Gaze back through our blog archives and recall what made this a game changer when it was launched in 2016.

Getting to know your Olympus camera


Throughout the day we explored how to get the most out of your Olympus:

  • Recommended street photography settings (more on this below) 
  • Settings for black and white 
  • Using the Olympus pre-set ‘ART” settings 
  • Using an ND filter for long exposures 
  • How to create a timelapse in-camera 
  • How to use selective colouring 
Straight from the camera using the 'Pinhole 1' effect in the ART menu
Selective colouring 


How to set up your camera for street photography

Basic set-up for the day was to shoot in ‘A’ (Aperture priority) mode and then simply adjust your exposure when needed. As it was a sunny day we went with an ISO of 200 - this gave shutter speeds of between 1/2000-1/8000 - keeping our subjects nice and sharp.

  • ISO 200 (sunny day, you could also set a max ISO setting (to a level where you are happy there will be acceptable levels of noise) and leave on Auto ISO)
  • Shoot wide open (f/2.8 with my lens)
  • Shutter speed ideally above 1/2000th of a second to freeze action and help capture unplanned 'point and shoot' moments
  • Shutter on to silent (top tip!)
Plus image styling options for JPEG shooting:
  • Contrast plus one
  • Sharpness plus one
Adding some humour

How to take photos of strangers in the street

So, it’s nerve-racking, and I’ll admit it took me right up to the end of the day before I plucked up the courage to ask a stranger to take his photo (top image on this article). It won’t win any prizes, but the sense of achievement I got was incredible!

Executing point number 5 from the list below - this came out even on full zoom!
... and point number 6! Get low and use that vari-angle screen!

Street photography tips:

  1. Take the shot and leave, or 
  2. Engage in conversation, build up some narrative and interact 
  3. Recognise when people are distracted and go for it! 
  4. Find a backdrop you like and wait until someone enters the frame, then shoot! 
  5. Shoot from the hip (make sure you have a fast shutter speed) 
  6. And my additional point - get your vars-angle screen out and shoot from the ground! 

If you do get ‘caught’ snapping someone, a little smile to recognise you’ve been rumbled will go a long way. People will often be very receptive to seeing their picture, and actually, a positive reaction from a stranger can help boost your confidence.

This walk taught me the benefit of being bold - only by trying it once do you realise it gets easier and easier! Plus, a group photo walk helps, as you have safety in numbers!

This homeless man was receiving help from the man on the right

Street photography location - get to know your city

I love the city of Brighton - I live here and it’s incredibly vibrant, arty, generous and open-minded. A photo walk is a good way to look at a familiar location with fresh eyes. It also makes you think about locations – spotting backdrops, finding reflections, street art, as well as the obvious tourist locations.

The Laines provide endless photo opportunities


Jez demonstrating how to use Neutral Density filters for long exposures


We have plenty MORE EVENTS coming up, with a whole host of new photo walks to be announced in the near future. Keep an eye on our events page for the latest information.

Have you attended any of our walks? We’d love to hear from you – what did you learn from the day? Comments/questions below please!

You can see more of Jez Sugars work on his Instagram page or his website.

Photos in this blog by Ashley Laurence - Instagram 

Find out more about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and 12-40 f/2.8

Read our review of the  Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

We also attended a London photo walk - read about it here!

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