Anatomy Of A Street Shot

I was about to post this shot with a few others from the same day, but as it’s one of a sequence of three, I thought it might be good to have a look at them together to see the reasons one is chosen over the other. A lot of street photography is about one shot. Someone walks toward you, you take the shot and they’re gone, never to be repeated ever again. But sometimes you have a chance to fire of two or three. This was one of those times because the dog slowed things down. I  shot this in Glasgow (Scotland) with the X100. It’s still my favourite street camera, even though I now have the 23mm f1.4 (35mm full frame) for the X-Pro1. There’s just something special about this tiny silent camera. As a side note – the X100s in black was announced yesterday…food for thought.

35mmStreet.DSCF3717SHOT 1: I like this street as it has character, but it’s not usually busy. I think this was my second shot of the day. I saw this guy walking his dog and I liked the contrast of the long dark coat and the odd wooly dog. I knew we were a bit far apart for the 35mm field of view, but as it was only my second shot of the day, I took a test shot and checked the photo in the viewfinder. If you are not familiar with the Fuji X100 ( and XPro1), the viewfinder has a tiny screen that slides in when you take a shot and let’s you see the photo without chimping on the camera LCD. My exposure was ok. The Sky was a bit blown out, but it was a grey day and it was more important to expose for the street. But I knew this wouldn’t be a keeper. I knew that before I pressed the shutter.

SHOT 2: I moved closer and he moved closer. I crouched low to get a better angle. This is the shot that works best for me. It has strong leading lines that take the viewers eye to both subjects. It doesn’t matter if your eye reached the man or the dog first because the tight lead that connects them also causes you to shift from one to the other. I really like the pose, it’s a little stiff with one foot slightly raised and twisted as it leaves the kerb. The expression is good and makes you wonder what’s going on in his life. He has things on his mind that might be worrying him. I also like the man walking in the opposite direction on the other side of the street and the ‘Beer Cafe’ sign seems to suit the overall look of this street too. There’s a lot of elements that just work in this shot and it’s the one I chose as the keeper.

35mmStreet.DSCF3719SHOT 3: This shot is usable, but a lot of the elements that worked in shot 2 are missing. The man on the left has almost gone, the dog lead is hanging loose and doesn’t work as well as a leading line.  Although the main subjects pose is ok, his expression is nowhere near as good. In this shot he looks more annoyed at me taking pictures than lost in his own thoughts. This is all subjective of course and I realise some of you will prefer shot 3 over shot 2. But for me there is more to keep my attention in the second shot. It’s important to take the time to study a shot. We tend to fast forward everything in this digital world, but there’s nothing better than sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee and a big photography book.

17 responses

  1. Shot two definitely the winner!:) As you perfectly point out, all the elements are in place… Cracking image! :)

    I’m still struggling with my X100 so good to see others getting results. I keep trying!

    January 7, 2014 at 12:08

    • Many thanks Adam. Keep plugging away with the X100. Drop me an email if there’s anything I can help with.
      I love your portraits by the way.


      January 7, 2014 at 21:53

  2. Pingback: Anatomy Of A Street Shot | Derek Clark

  3. Great explanations. It’s interesting to read how a photographer got his picture right.

    January 7, 2014 at 16:01

    • Thanks a lot. That’s all I’m looking to do here, just a bit of insight. I enjoy seeing how other photographers think, so happy to share.

      Thanks again

      January 7, 2014 at 21:46

  4. Ness

    I find all these images boring. A month from now you will be embarrassed to be so proud to show them. (And if you don’t you won’t realize how to distinguish bad from good images.)

    January 7, 2014 at 19:57

    • DP Review is that way>>>>

      Derek :o)

      January 7, 2014 at 21:42

  5. phoilmc

    Thanks for your ‘anatomical’ review, really refreshing to see the thinking behind THE image capture, great choice of shot btw

    January 7, 2014 at 20:09

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found it interesting.


      January 7, 2014 at 21:40

  6. pinkopunko

    Nothing of good ,IMO. The bald man on the left is distracting. The car on the left is distracting & ugly. The facial expression of the subject is something of horrible. the little man on the right with plastic bags is distracting. So Your explanation fails, all falls in ruin.

    January 7, 2014 at 21:14

    • Thanks for your input.
      I would like to point out that I’m not looking for a pretty picture, just something interesting (enough to comment on anyway :o)


      January 7, 2014 at 21:39

  7. Ian

    It would be nice if those being so rudely critical could at least link to their exemplary work so we could see how it is really done.

    That said, I have some sympathy for the comment about the cars on the left of the shot. The first one is quite bright and draws the eye. Perhaps a step or two to the left would have given a better background (but put your life at risk on a Glaswegian road). The cobbled road is possibly a better foreground than the paving slabs too.

    But still, as a non-street photographer, it was very good to hear your thought processes.

    January 8, 2014 at 08:32

    • I agree Ian. If you want to criticize other people’s work, you should be prepared to show your own.

      I agree with the cars and stepping to the left would maybe have improved the shot (who knows). But quite often on the street, you grab the shot that’s there before it’s gone. I like the second shot, but maybe if I had moved I might have got something worse….or maybe it would have been a classic. We’ll never know :o) I did crop the second shot into an upright and it looked pretty good, but for the blog format and to show what the original shot looked like, I left them un-cropped.

      I love your ‘Waiting For The Bride’ shot!


      January 8, 2014 at 12:51

  8. Awesome shot, Derek. It’s great to hear your explanation as to why you would choose one shot over another. I personally think that shots 2 and 3 work great as street shots, but shot 1 is good from other perspectives/styles as well. Not a bad set at all and will agree that number 2 is the winner.

    Also, good that you decided to leave the negative comments here. I think they speak volumes about those two “reviewers”:)

    Thanks for sharing!

    January 10, 2014 at 01:23

  9. Hi Derek, photo 2 all the way. He’s pose is fantastic and so is his expression.

    January 11, 2014 at 12:37

  10. Pingback: miXed zone: Full Frame madness, XC 50-230: the forgotten one and more! | Fuji Rumors

  11. Pingback: Anatomy Of A Street Shot | xzine

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