Mark Seymour Shares Tips for Beautiful Street Photography


I thought we’d have a bit of fun while out shooting the street recently. So, we started naming street compositions according to winning Poker hands. From a truly exceptional hand to the simplest card, read on to discover how to score the winning hands! Mind you, to be a Royal Flush, the photograph has to be pretty special!

Royal Flush

Kolkata’s famous flower market was the backdrop for the almost biblical lighting I came across one morning as I walked through the market. One moment the image was there, and then it gone the next. I quickly took a couple of photographs before the composition split and they went about daily work.

The Flower Market is one of those places that you know one day will reward you. After five years and over 20 visits, it certainly paid dividends for me.

Image number two was taken at the Kalighat Kali Temple in Kolkata. I know this location well; I have visited it many times, but never has the composition here presented itself as it was at the moment. I pressed the shutter. All three locations were filled with people carrying out different activities and telling different stories. It was completed by the Indian lady with the red sari walking through the image and filling the space to the left.

Straight Flush

Photographs were taken in Dawei, Myanmar. This was one of those great photography adventures where we flew into Yangon and then took a prop plane down to Myeik to work our way back every few days back to Yangon via Ye, Dawei and Mawlamyine. The Myanmar portfolio can be seen here.

I visited many monasteries in Dawei, where I found this great background with four kids just chilling and a dog lying on the stairs. I stayed there for about 15 mins as the scene developed with dogs wandering through the picture and waited till the whole composition came together.

Four of a Kind

The first image was taken on a photography course in Dallas, probably the best I’ve ever attended, with two of my mentors being Pulitzer prize winners. It was perhaps one of the first layered images I took. The other images taken during the workshop are showcased here.

The second image was taken in the fish market in Yangon, while the third was taken in Jodhpur.

Full House

An image was taken in Kolkata’s vegetable market with a group of three and a group of two. The key is the background selection and then waiting for the elements to come together, such as heads in spaces and a natural determining moment between the group of three. This is one of the fundamental street photography techniques to get a successful shot: work the scene, compose, and wait for it to develop.

Flush

The Flush: five people come together. The photograph was taken in Dawei, where we practiced putting heads in the sky and shooting through creating natural frames. I shot a lot of frames for this image on my Sony A9 and 35mm lens to make sure the ball was captured in its own space.

Straight

Five similar people in a group. Both images were taken in Kolkata around Sudder Street. The first picture was a gift with three guys leaning and chatting on a poster wall, whereas in the second image, the group in the foreground was stationary with a great background, and it was a case of waiting for someone to fill the gap.

Three of a Kind

Image 1: A bar in Myanmar.

Image 2: Three workers in Hanoi central park.

Image 3: Kolkata Flower Market. It’s often fun to challenge yourself and look for different items with one of these street photography techniques of shooting through, along with keeping all their heads in spaces. I noticed a lot of the bikes had these massive saddles, so tried on several occasions to use the large spring to shoot thru, and patience rewarded me.

Image 4: I noticed the guy reading the paper and that it was acting as a reflector pushing the light back into his face. I acknowledged him, and he let me continue shooting as I waited for the other two people in the temple to make a better composition.

Image 5: Two men and his son repairing a bike in Yangon. As I approached the scene, the kid jumped over his dad and used the wheel to almost hide behind, making a great composition. All I had to do then was ensure that the child’s eye wasn’t obscured by the spokes of the wheel.

Image 6: Sometimes, you get lucky. I saw the scene from across the street, so crossed over to take the photo, and at that moment, the cat got up and stretched out, making an excellent little addition to the three men.

Image 7: Taken in Nagaland, not strictly street photography, but we had arranged this adventure to visit and photograph some of the last head-hunters alive. We were really lucky to witness them smoking opium.

Two Pairs

The first image was taken in the Kolkata Flower Market, using the foreground subjects as a frame and waiting for the right shape to happen, allowing me to capture the secondary subjects behind.

The Black and White image was taken in Camden Market relatively early in the day. I saw this great prop hanging from a glasses store, so I waited for the proper grouping to come into the frame.

Pair

A group of two people or a pair of hands. These character hands were spotted in Myanmar along with the twins in matching dresses.

High Card

Just a single photograph or street portrait in context of where the person is.

The first image was taken in Kolkata, the second image in Soho, London, where I pre-focused on something at a similar distance, then just moved in and took the picture before he hastily moved on! Pre-focusing is another street photography technique that allows you to be unobtrusive and fast.

The third image is part of a project I covered shooting speakers corner. More of the photos can be seen here.

About Mark Seymour and Shoot The Street

About the author: Mark Seymour is an award-winning wedding and street photographer based in the UK. He has over 30 years of experience shooting at over 1,000 venues. Seymour has shot for National Geographic and has his work displayed in The National Portrait Gallery in London. He also runs street photography workshops through Shoot the Street. You can find his wedding work on his website. This article was also published here.

Shoot The Street Adventures

If you’d like to learn more about the forthcoming trips and adventures we’ve planned, take a look here or drop us a line! Mark Seymour discusses Street Photography Techniques with The Street Photography Magazine: Take a listen!

This was a guest blog post by Mark Seymour. It and the images here are used with permission.





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