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Understanding Street Photography In India – An Interview With Vishal Shinde




From the crowded alleys of Old Delhi to the colorful ghats of Varanasi, the streets of India offer a wide range of opportunities for photographers to capture compelling and unique images. Street photography is a genre of photography that captures candid, unposed images of people in public spaces. It’s not just about taking pictures of people on the street, but about capturing the mood, the culture, and the atmosphere of the place.

You can start street photography right now, but you should know some basic details to do it efficiently. We spoke to Vishal Shinde, a street photographer from Mumbai to get some tips and tricks for street photography. Here are some points to begin with:

Tips for Street Photography in India

1. Always be prepared

Carry your camera with you wherever you go. You never know when you might come across a great shot. Sometimes even a simple and unplanned photo could become a great click. “The best camera is the one you have with you” is a common adage in photography; you can capture great photos even using your smartphone camera.

2. Blend into the crowd

Dress casually and avoid drawing attention to yourself. Use a small camera and keep it inconspicuous. You may also consider using a compact camera or a smartphone for quick and discreet shots. That’s what Vishal uses most of the time.

3. Know your Gear

A mirrorless camera or a DSLR with a fast lens are ideal for street photography. Get a wide-angle lens for capturing action, and a telephoto lens to zoom in on your subject. Learn how to use your camera quickly and efficiently. Vishal mentions that you need to be very quick in your thought process for street photography as you won’t get much time to prepare. It is better to familiarize yourself with camera settings and controls, so you don’t miss a shot.

4. Be observant and patient

Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of what is happening around you. Look for interesting people, buildings, or situations that you could capture. Think of your frame and the composition and let the subject get in.

Vishal explains that patience is very important in street photography. Sometimes you need to wait for the perfect shot to present itself.
Man jumping with a skipping rope
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

5. Get close to the subject

Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. This can help you capture more intimate and engaging shots. Though it won’t be a candid shot because your subject might know that there’s a camera capturing him/her.

You can also ask for permission from people to capture their photos. Vishal suggests showing them your work and politely telling them that you are a street photographer. If they say no then you should respect the decision and if they say yes, ask them to pose freely in their natural look.

6. Shoot in burst mode

Street photography is about capturing people in motion. When shooting moving subjects, use burst mode to capture multiple shots quickly. This can help you capture the perfect shot and avoid blurry photos.

7. Pay attention to the light

Pay attention to the lighting conditions around you. Use natural light to your advantage and experiment with different lighting conditions to capture unique shots. Check for different angles and see the amount of light required. Look for contrasts in color, texture, and tone to create dynamic and interesting shots.
Man walking with a kid on a beach
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

8. Be creative and unique

Vishal states that you should be proud of your work. Clicking a random photo, posting it on social media for the sake of some likes is not street photography.

You should be confident that your work stands out from the rest and your profile looks professional and pleasing. The best way to do that is be introspective. Analyse your photos and compare them with those of other photographers. Be positive and improve yourself by figuring out your own mistakes. You will genuinely feel happy to see your progress if you keep track of it.

Vishal also recommends following famous street photographers for inspiration and learning. He looks up to Vineet Vohra and Siddhesh Birde for new ideas and trends.

9. Tell a Story

This is how you explain your photo and evoke emotions in the audience. You can write a fictional caption or narrate the real story of the subject. Try to initiate a conversation with your subject and give a background to your photo.

For example- You can ask the person about his work routine, how he spends his day or merely do a friendly conversation.
Man doing some work
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

10. Edit your photos well

Editing is an essential part of street photography. Vishal explains that the editing should be done according to the subject.
  • Keep it natural: Don’t over-edit your images. Keep the colors and tones natural.
  • Crop with purpose: Crop your images to focus on the subject or to remove distractions.
  • Use black and white: Convert your images to black and white to create a timeless and classic look. You can focus on one color and keep the background black and white to drive attention to the subject.
  • Experiment with presets: Try different presets to find the look that best suits your style.
Small girl holding a kid and standing near a beach
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

Techniques for Street Photography

Sometimes you know what to capture but don’t know how to bring the best out of it. Here are some techniques to try:
  • Panning: Follow your subject as they move and capture the motion blur in the background.
  • Silhouettes: Use backlight to create a silhouette of your subject.
  • Reflections: Use reflective surfaces to capture interesting reflections of people and the environment.
Reflection of man cycling near Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde
  • Leading lines: Use lines and shapes to guide the viewer’s eye through the image.

Types of Street Photography in India

There are several types of street photography, each with its own unique approach and style. Vishal likes to focus more on the composition side and frame but he says that once you start Street Photography, you’ll become an expert at one of these:

1. Documentary Street photography

This type of street photography focuses on capturing real-life situations and events. You can capture the daily struggles, joys, and moments of life.
People at a beach in Mumbai
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

2. Portrait/Candid Street photography

It focuses on capturing people in candid moments. It includes close-up shots and portrays the subject in a natural and unguarded way. You can capture portraits of street performers, artists, and vendors.

3. Fashion Street photography

Fashion Street photography focuses on capturing fashion trends and styles in public spaces. It emphasizes the unique and personal styles of individuals, showcasing the creativity and diversity of fashion on the streets.

Nowadays Fashion Street photography is popular on social media platforms like Instagram, where photographers share their images and showcase their model shoots from the streets.
Women standing beside a wall
Courtesy- Indrajeet Bhonsale

4. Abstract Street photography

It focuses on capturing the shapes, patterns, and textures of the urban environment. You can use techniques such as long exposures, intentional camera movement, and double exposures to create abstract and surreal images. Examples of abstract street photography include close-up shots of textured surfaces, reflections in puddles or windows, etc.

5. Night Street photography

Night Street photography involves capturing the city’s nightlife, capturing the hustle and bustle of city life after dark. You should be familiar with manual camera settings, including aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, to capture sharp and well-exposed images at night.

For example, capture the soft glow of streetlights or the warm light spilling out of cars on streets.

6. Layering Street photography

Layering in street photography refers to the technique of capturing multiple layers of elements in a single image.

For example, you could capture a person walking on the street in the foreground, a shop or vendor in the middle ground, and buildings or landmarks in the background. This creates a layered effect that adds depth and interest to the image.
 Street view in front of Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus at night
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

7. Cultural Street photography

India is a diverse country with a rich cultural heritage, bustling cities, and scenic landscapes, making it an excellent destination for cultural street photography. You can capture festivals, religious ceremonies, and cultural events.
Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
Courtesy- Vishal Shinde

These are just a few examples of the types of street photography that exist. Each type can overlap with others, and some photographers may combine different approaches in their work. From the Kumbh Mela of Haridwar to Ganesh Chaturthi of Mumbai, from the bustling Lodhi Garden streets to Sarojini Nagar market of Delhi and Johari Bazaar of Jaipur, there’s plenty to capture through your lens. Each city and town in India have its unique charm, you should have an eye for it. Vishal comments that the more you practice, the better you will get at it. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things to develop your own style.

Are There Careers in Street Photography in India?

Street photography is often pursued as a passionate hobby, rather than a conventional profession. Vishal honestly states that you should not expect a well-earning career in the beginning stage of Street photography in India. Try to combine it with some other job and continue it as your passion. You can work as a freelancer, selling your images to magazines, newspapers, and websites or work on assignments for clients or collaborate with other artists and designers. You can build an interesting profile on social media, gain followers and monetize your passion for photography through sponsored posts, partnerships, and collaborations. You may work on documentary projects, documenting social issues and cultural events. And you can upload your content on stock footage websites like Indievisual.in (that’s us!) and earn profit every time your photo/video gets sold.

In conclusion, street photography in India is a thrilling experience that can offer a unique insight into the country’s diverse culture and daily life. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s always something new and exciting to capture on the streets.

So, grab your camera, hit the streets, and start capturing the beauty of India, one frame at a time.  And reach out to hello@indievisual.in for any doubts!

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