The Travel Corner: Photographing People – Candid/Street

Wayne Kaulbach here, with my second installment on photographing people. If you missed my first article, you can read it here and you can check out my work at

We now have a grasp on how to photograph people in a controlled situation, as I discussed previously, but how do we come home with great photos of people in a candid/ street environment? 

Vogue, Italia

A Candid Street Photography mindset has many similarities to an Ice Hockey mindset (as my 2 passions meet:).

1. Vision.  In hockey, be where the puck is going to be.  In street be where spontaneity collides with chance.  

2. Don’t force it.  In both street and hockey it must flow naturally.  You can’t force the pass or it gets picked off.... you can’t force the flow of constantly changing elements (you can try but it never works).

3. SHOOT!!!!! 

Pushkar, India

The Weight Of The World: Best Feature Publicity - Professional Photographers Of Canada 2002

Both street photography and Ice Hockey are intuitive, meditative, mindful -- in the moment -- life experiences.  “Thinking should be done before and after, never during the capture.”  Henri Cartier-Bresson. *I wonder if HCB ever played hockey?

Venice, Italy



This takes practice.  The more you photograph candidly on the street the better equipped you will be to capture great images.  A nice starting point is to immerse yourself in your environment.  Stand on a street corner for 30 minutes and really look at what is going on around you.

Dysturb-Paris: 2nd Place Photo Life Magazine -- Dysturb Paris -- Interconnections, 2015. **Best In Class: Feature Album -- "Paris". Professional Photographers Of Canada 2015.

Choose a background that is pleasing and wait for interesting people to walk through the scene. Compose it well (avoid distractions like text and bright areas that the eye wanders to) and shoot!

*When shooting you can play with shutter speeds to keep the background sharp and maybe get some motion with your subjects: one/8th... one/ 15th or one/30th of a second are great shutter speeds to get motion.  

**Rule of thumb when hand holding (as opposed to using a tripod): your shutter speed should equal or be greater than the focal length of your lens to keep stationary elements tack sharp so with slower speeds use a wider angle lens (shorter lenses are much more unobtrusive so no-one notices you, which is another benefit). 

Florence, Italy.

Don’t force it  

Be mindful and in the moment.  The more mindful you are the bigger your eyes are and the more you truly see what is happening around you.  Set aside 3 hours for yourself to just go out with your camera and photograph street at home or abroad. 

Paris: Part of Best In Class “Paris”. 9. Close Encounters: Runner Up Best Unclassified Professional Photographers Association Of British Columbia 2015.

 When I travel I go out at dawn and dusk for those soft/golden light scenes and during the day I am in street mindset. I wander the streets aimlessly like I’ve grazed my head on a tree and work on being purely visual. Sometimes I succeed, photographically, and sometimes I just have a really good walk and drink in the beauty: it’s all good. You just never know what you are going to stumble upon.


 Pretty self explanatory but if you don’t shoot.... you don’t score:)  Even when I’m not really in the mood I just start taking a few photos and warm myself up... get into the groove and start seeing.  The more you shoot the faster you become and the less potential subjects notice you (see Camera Speed below). 


Close Encounters: Chicago USA Runner Up Best Unclassified, Professional Photographers of British Columbia, 2015

If someone sees me photographing them and they ask me to stop I immediately do so and smile and wave... no harm done and have yourself a great day.

Mona Lisa Brothers: Paris.

Do I miss shots?  All the time.  Your success ratio will be a bit smaller shooting candid/street photography but if you come home from a few hours out shooting and you even have one image that really gets you excited... then you are succeeding!! 

Little Mouse: Paris

A few reasons why we shoot candid/street that I share with my students at Langara:

1.Speed! Camera Speed. Shoot fast or die. It just keeps getting better.

2.To Break Existing Rules! There are no #@@*^^ Rules in Street so....

3.Utilize New Tools! Experiment with focus, space, composition and design. Movement/slow shutter speeds (what happens when you hand hold a 1 or 2 second exposure? Find out!) Angles: 99% of all images are taken from eye level -- mix it up.

4. Just Let It Be! Visual Meditation and intuitive shooting. *Stop Thinking.

5.Meet New People! Some of the most rewarding experiences I have when I travel are the people I meet while out photographing.

6.Improve our eye in ALL genres!

Now when you travel you can come home with great portraits of people in a controlled environment and also great candid/street photos for A/V shows for friends... for competition... for magazines or just for your own memories of your trip. 

Clown: Streets Of Vancouver.

Good luck and safe travels!