The other day I was listening to a TV programme about filming wildlife by one of the BBC’s top cameramen, and he made the comment that it was important that you study your animal in it’s natural habitat. Stating the blindingly obvious he stated that you should know the animals habits, where it likes to eat and drink and what pathways it likes to travel along. That way you are ready to get the great shots because you know it’s behaviour and you can often be one jump ahead of the animal by being prepared for what it will do next under any given set of circumstances. Pretty obvious you would think – AND THEN IT SUDDENLY HIT ME!!!
People are animals too, whether we like to accept it or not. Exactly the same rules apply in street photography as they do in shooting wildlife. We need to know good habitats for the human animals, where they like to eat and the pathways they like to follow at any particular time of day. Basically we need to know all of their habits, and how they deal with all the situations that life throws at them whether they are good or bad.
It is only by the study of the human animal and it’s life style that we can become successful street photographers. Whether it is a gesture, a laugh, a grimace or whatever can we ever hope to get that image which is a fleeting moment – the famous ‘decisive moment’ of Cartier-Bresson’s teaching. It is essential we do as much groundwork as the very best wildlife photographer if we are to successfully shoot the wildlife that is the human animal.