Question #40: About Scouting a Location for Street Photography

Bonjour everyone. Sorry for the long absence from the Q&A blog. I've been busy teaching a workshop in Paris followed by a much needed family vacation. A few questions have come in and it's time I start answering some of them... So here we go!

Q: "For street shooting, are there any scouting tools you like to use when you're looking for target neighborhoods in a location you don't know well, other than Google and maybe Flickr?" Stan Philippe

A: "Great question Stan, as I am occasionally running photo workshops in new and unfamiliar locations. Doing research on photo sites and checking out YouTube videos to get a feel for a place and its various neighborhoods is a great way to get started. It's always my first step in the scouting process. Next, I get in contact with local street photographers to get their input and talk to them about their favorite street photography locations. Many times I co-lead a workshop with a local street photographer, such as my NYC and LA workshops. Nothing beats having the first hand experience of a local street photographer to help you find the best places to shoot.

When I am not scouting or planning for a workshop and just shooting for myself, I like to let the city surprise me. I can walk all day with my camera and get lost on purpose. There is always a story happening and I enjoy the hunt as much as the resulting image. I tend to roam the less travelled areas and stay away from the touristy spots. Taking side streets and back streets as much as possible, and with safety in mind, is the best way to get a more authentic feel for a place. Public transportation in any large city is a great place to do street photography as well. That's real life. It's important to be respectful and discreet. I would avoid photographing people in the Paris metro with a noisy DSLR, although I've done it in the past... 

Talking with locals, not necessarily photographers, is a great way to find out what's happening in a neighborhood. The changes and/or struggles that most tourists are oblivious to, may help you tell your story in images in a more meaningful way.

I hope you found these tips useful. Good luck!" Valerie.

  ©Valerie Jardin ~   Taking less travelled side streets will help you get a more authentic feel for a place.

 ©Valerie Jardin ~ Taking less travelled side streets will help you get a more authentic feel for a place.

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