Street photography in Soho and Covent Garden with the Fuji X-E1

A few weeks ago I went up to London to visit the Photographers gallery and check out the Mass Observation exhibition (excellent - sadly now finished) with my good friend David, and then spent an afternoon introducing him to the fine art of street photography (to which he took to pretty naturally).

tips

settings

For the most part I wore my Fuji X-E1 around my wrist using a wrist strap, with my finger on the power switch. Settings were pretty much 1/250th of a second, f4-f8 and auto ISO up to 6400, and manual focused/zone focused so that if I saw something interesting approaching, I could power on, and just raise the camera to my eye and shoot, all within seconds - often without my subject even realising. I used both the 18-55 and the 35 mm, but I really liked being forced to think with my feet within the constraints of the 35mm.

first timer?

If you are getting started with street photography, I would strongly recommend removing as may options as possible and constraining yourself, so all you have to think about is your subject and composition. Sometimes you have literally a split second to get the shot, and the less you have to think about the better.

approaching people

One of the things I'm trying to work on is approaching people and asking to take their photo - something I need to work on more, but I've found that my best shots are usually after chatting to someone briefly. You don't have to say much, and even a friendly smile or compliment can really break the ice and break down barriers wonderfully, making for a better connection and picture.

small cameras

David was using the lovely X100s, which is essentially silent with it's leaf shutter and the perfect street photographer's camera IMHO, though I still love the X-E1. Whatever camera you use, for street photography the smaller the better. People react differently to a small camera than a giant SLR (for which they seem to scare more easily and/or ask you if you are a 'professional'). If you have a small compact you can set on manual give it a go!

Thanks to David's excellent London knowledge, we manage to get about quite a bit on foot, and I was pretty pleased with the shots from the day, some of which are posted below.

Adidas
Adidas by Al Power, on Flickr

Soho
Soho by Al Power, on Flickr

School Photo
School Photo by Al Power, on Flickr

Watching the cycling
Watching the cycling by Al Power, on Flickr

Smoke Break by Al Power
Smoke Break by Al Power, on Flickr

I'm really looking forward to another visit - London offers so much just wandering around, whatever the weather!