If you’ve never had the chance to read Danny Santos’ article on How To Shoot Street Portraits, I highly recommend you do, particularly if it’s the type of work you have ambitions to improve on. Keep in mind that it’s a style that you can read endlessly about on how to execute it properly but that very knowledge can easily become pointless if you fail to put into practice.
I have nothing against walking around neighborhoods searching for a reason to press the shutter but there comes a point where the hunt for a good photo becomes tiresome because sometimes you don’t really know what it is that you’re looking for until you come across it. This could lead to long days where you may or may not return home with nothing to download and feel proud of. The remedy to this uncertainly would probably be to have something specific in mind that you’re hoping to photograph.
The chances of me visiting a place where I’m unlikely to come across people is somewhat slim and this is how I essentially choose what neighborhood I have an interest to visit around New York. I’ve been to 5Pointz in Long Island City numerous times and immediately I had no interest to photograph the stunning graffiti artwork that coats the entire building. I did that already. I had more interest in walking away with at least one portrait of a person who like me, took the journey to admire this out outdoor exhibition.
She spoke very little English so her friend did most of the translating. I loved her punk-rock outfit, the setting complimented the color of it and the fact that she was beautiful convinced me that I couldn’t walk away without a portrait.
Moral of the story is to know what it is that you’re looking for when doing street work so that narrow your options to capturing subject matter that you instantly like and not that you hope will like once your back home editing trying to convince yourself that it was a worthwhile day.