Street Photography is seen as a snapshot competition where only a single picture matters the most. This can be fun and teaches you a lot about photography and yourself. You need to put everything in that single shot that tells a story and looks good at the same time.
Why a Project?
If you have never shot longer series before, there is a lot you can learn throughout the course of completing a project. In terms of storytelling, you don’t have to think from image to image, but keep the bigger picture in mind. There will be different kind of images, some that focus more on advancing the overall story, while others put more weight on the aesthetic composition.
Photography in the Fall
The summer is my favorite season by far. As a photographer, I love the light and shadows that are cast by the bright summer sun and it makes every photograph so much more interesting. These ideal conditions allow more leeway, leading to more “keepers” that I am confident publishing.
When the summer is gone, I feel a sudden drop of motivation. Suddenly the whole city looks duller and what was interesting before just doesn’t catch my attention. This can lead to a downwards spiral, where my lost motivation automatically leads to worse images, further facilitating my demotivation.
From personal experience, I know that other photographers feel the same way. But throughout the past years, I learned that every season and every weather condition has its ups and downs.
In the summer we can obviously work with the sun more directly. This is an easy task and most photographers feel that the summer is their ideal condition.
During the fall, the hours of sunlight are heavily reduced and pose new challenges, that overstrains a lot of photographers. Instead of giving up and waiting for the next summer, here is a list of photography projects that you can tackle during the fall.
They help you to appreciate this season and show that as a photographer every situation and condition can lead to great photographs. You don’t need the bright summer sun, a rainy day during the fall creates interesting moods as well.
All you need to do is to understand that you have to adapt to every new condition. You can’t just take the same approach as in the summer. Therefore the projects help you to understand the characteristics of the fall more.
From harsher weather conditions to less available light and fewer people willing to be photographed. These projects help you to grow as a photographer and build your overall skills. Anyone can be a good photographer when everything is set up perfectly, but only a few can really master such harsher conditions.
I remember as a kid that the fall was always a very colorful season. While nature in summer is in full bloom, it is mostly a singular green during the whole season. In contrast to that, the fall displays a broader spectrum transforming the green to orange.
Orange is a very photogenic color. There is the “Hollywood” style that emphasizes orange in the brighter spots and a lot of filters work in this color spectrum.
During the fall, you don’t need to apply artificial filters in post-production, nature already presents itself in this best way.
In Street Photography, Black & White is still very popular due to its emphasis on contrast. I agree that monochrome is a great choice for Street Photography, as it fades away any unwanted details and gives more freedom. But if you aren’t familiar with color photography you should definitely give it a try during the fall.
Black & White won’t work that well, in typical cloudy days where there is a lack of shadows creating a greater contrast. Instead, give Color Photography a shot and capture the change of pace.
Search for places in your city that give nature enough room to show. Parks or more open plazas can be your new favorite spots.
During the course of a project that lasts for more than a month, it could be very interesting to experience how the location can change.
When I look through social media feeds, most of the images are taken at famous landmarks of my city. There are a lot of tourists walking by and the scenery changes every few minutes.
As a Street Photographer, especially in the summer landmarks and more touristic spots are fantastic to capture a lot of different people. In general, the typical holiday seasons are in the summer where you can meet international tourists visiting your town.
Those touristic locations are ideal spots for Street Photographers. There are a lot of people already carrying cameras and you will be pretty invisible amongst all the other tourists. This allows you take candid images from very close-up.
But when the summer is gone and the holiday season is over, those places can become very abandoned. Without the crowds, they aren’t really interesting enough to photograph on its own, as they can be already be seen in millions of other photographs.
Therefore the fall can be a time where you can focus more on your direct vicinity. Your neighborhood can be more interesting than you would think at first. Our mind tricks us, that locations that are very familiar become boring to us. It is understandable that the area that you live in for many years, doesn’t strike you as something new every day. But that doesn’t mean that you live in a boring neighborhood.
Photographing near your home has many advantages.
You don’t have to travel a lot, it isn’t a huge effort to carry the camera with you and you know interesting details that no one else would know of.
Talk to neighbors whose portrait you like to take and create a book at the end of your project that you could give out to your home area.
Over the course of this project, you will learn that even the most boring areas still have room for interesting discoveries.
Fall is not only the season where the sun doesn’t show up as much as we are used to from the summer, there are also long periods where rain is dominating the streets.
Contrary to popular belief, rain is not that much of a problem for your camera. Most cameras, weather sealed or not, can withstand a typical light autumn rain. If you are still too afraid to use your camera while it is raining outside, I recommend you to buy a point and shoot like the Ricoh GR that has a great image quality but is quite inexpensive.
You can also use the rain to your advantage to create unique pictures. Since most photographers are too afraid to use their camera during rainy weather, there aren’t a lot of images visible on Social media or to the public in general.
Rainy weather introduces plenty of new details that you can embrace in your Street Photography.
People carry their umbrellas, puddles are natural mirrors and windows are covered in condensed water.
For reference, you can take a look at Nick Turpin’s through the window series.
Create a full series of images during the rain to showcase the different atmosphere that can be created.
The sun is gone and the weather is mostly cloudy. I already presented a few ways how to make the most of those “dull” days when there is no great contrast and that you can take beautiful photographs there as well.
Lesser sun hours are not a disadvantage but open up the opportunity to photograph during the darker hours of the day or night.
Although photography is often described as “painting with light” you don’t need the sunlight to create stunning images.
Did you know that the famous director James Cameron who created masterpieces such as Terminator and Aliens preferred working during the night? The sunlight is uncontrollable and some days the light conditions can change rather quickly.
The night time is very predictable and only artificial light sources brighten your way on the street, giving you the opportunity to work the same spot for hours, without a sudden change of the light.
It might sound crazy at first to photograph during the night and you might be afraid that your images come out too dark. But modern cameras are very technologically advanced and ISO noise isn’t much of a problem anymore. Most cameras can be shot as low as 1/10th of second out of the hand and still be sharp thanks to the image stabilization.
For better effects, I would lookout for bright billboards or signs that illuminate the street.
Depending on the post-processing you can create different looks that can either be more optimistic and colorful or the opposite.
In combination with night photography, you can also try to use a flash to illuminate the scene. At first, you might believe that it will be near impossible to photograph with a flash during the night because you raise all the attention and might get into trouble. From my experience, this isn’t a real problem.
Flash Photography at night is relatively chill and without any problems. Of course, people will be surprised at first, but you won’t face any more anger than during the day time.
There are different options to enlighten the scene with your flash.
You can either photograph like you would during the day and just use your flash as a means of assistance, or you can embrace the flash for whole new stylistic opportunities.
Personally, when I bring the off-camera with me and use it for my Street images I also like to play with longer shutter speeds, creating light paintings.
When you like to try out this style, the most important part of the image is the background. You absolutely need some light in the background that will be distorted during the longer shutter time. If there isn’t any background light, you won’t be able to re-create this effect.
If you are too afraid to try out the off-camera flash on the street I would also recommend you to visit an event near you.
Sports events can be a perfect place to practice such kinds of images. Just make sure not to disturb the athletes too much.
When it comes to equipment it doesn’t need to be expensive. Most entry level off-camera flashes are able to work in your favor and all you need in the beginning. If you decide to follow this style more seriously, flashes with larger batteries can give you an advantage and allow you to take images in burst mode, whereas most simpler flashes only fire once and then need to take their time to reload.
The fall might not be your favorite season and you feel a sudden drop of motivation because the conditions are often times harsher and not ideal. This shouldn’t stop you from taking images altogether.
You might face different situations, some that might not be easy to handle, but there are still a lot of opportunities to add great images to your collection.
As a photographer, you will grow a lot when you face these difficult times and pursue your passion, instead of hibernating until spring. It is easy to get wonderful shots when the light conditions are ideal, but only experts can control every condition.
After trying out the projects, you will learn a lot, improving your photography skills overall.
Don’t shy away when it is cold and unfriendly outside. There is beauty to be found everywhere in this world. It only needs to be discovered by you – the photographer.
Let me know your thoughts.
For more on street photography, check out this post.