Waist Level Street Photography Is My Jam

Originally Published February 14th, 2019

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Hey Gang, time for a photography post.

I plan on doing a whole lotta Street Photography this year!

Frisco was a great place to start—I was in SP heaven!

China town was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been.

Every street corner, vender, market—every alleyway was screaming to be photographed! 

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I thought I would take a moment and share my Street Photography method.

One of the techniques I used in SF was the waist level method.

This involves shooting from the hip (or waist). I used my new Fujifilm X100F with a 28mm Wide Conversion Lens.

Here are a few reasons why I love shooting waist level street photography & why it’s going to be my jam this year.

Stealth/Anonymity

Unlike Eric Kim or Bruce Gilden—I prefer a much more stealthy approach to photographing strangers in public.

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I’ve read about street photographers keeping their cameras in their jackets, covered with a handkerchief, or even going so far as to make special cameras that fits into their jacket sleeves.

The most obvious reason to shoot from the waist is the stealth factor. When combined with the quiet shutter of the X100F—no one realizes their being photographed.

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I just keep my camera around my neck and when it’s time to shoot—place my hand on the top of the camera, and gently press the shutter.

One problem I had in SF was when I would raise my camera to snap a photo, people that were walking by would stop.

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If I shot from the waist, everyone just walked by—oblivious.

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Street Photography is all about capturing those candid moments. This is made easy by shooting waist level.

Eye Contact

When I’m shooting from the waist, I can literally walk up to someone, talk to them, and photograph them at the same time.

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Often, the captures come out looking like we’re making eye contact, because we are.

It adds a level of interest to the photographs—making the subjects appear larger than life due to the lower angle.

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Better Chance Of Capturing The Shot

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Street photography is all about capturing the decisive moment.

That means you have to be ready at all times to catch that fraction of a second—that tiny moment in time that may never happen again.

Shooting from the hip with a wide lens allows you to quickly capture the shot while composing intuitively.

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There Are Drawbacks

Of course there are drawbacks from shooting from the hip. You can’t see what your photographing, sometimes the photos are cooked or tilted at an angle, out of focus, or just plain crap.

All this is a trade off for the benefits to shooting from the waist.

I plan on sticking with this method & hopefully improving upon it as we travel more.

Thanks for reading!

-Tim

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