Street Photo Assignment #1: Everyday Life Uncropped

August 26, 2011

Join me in a series of street photo assignments that will test, but at the same time, enhance your street photography skills. Without a doubt the best way of learning is trying new things but that’s not always easy or straight-forward to do. How often do we all get caught up on repeating what we are comfortable with over and over, time and time again? Take these assignments as an excuse to break this habit and try something new. Assignments will be set monthly and run over the weekend they are announced, the end results will be featured on this blog the following week. (More details further down)

Let’s kick off the first assignment by celebrating the simplest form of street photography! The good old “people acting normal” pictures.

The Aim:

This assignment is designed to bring the simplicity back to street photography. Street photos need not be complicated to be nice. In fact, the simpler and more spontaneous they are, the better. Whilst the technical details are what usually make or break a picture, this weekend I propose we go against all the rules and ignore the technical details all together. This weekend, we will shoot instinctively.

Whilst the above might sound like a silly idea for some, there are many lessons to be learnt from it. When you’re reviewing the day’s crop, you will find “snapshots” that you love and others that you don’t. Understanding why you like the ones you do, and don’t like the ones you don’t, is instant feedback to how you instinctively use your camera.

After all, isn’t that what we all aim to improve? Don’t we all want to take amazing pictures based on our instincts instead of thinking, analysing and perfecting every photo opportunity? However, analyzing our instinct is not easy; it’s definitely not something we can do on the spot, especially whilst we’re out and about. To be objective, we have to have a clear head, and to be accurate, the shots need to be truly instinctive. To ensure this is the case, we need to stop over-thinking a scene and be less selective before releasing the shutter.

The aim of this exercise is to get one perfect picture. Just one! But one that you can be proud of. One you can look back to and be inspired because you shot it instinctively.

Intrigued? Keep on reading!

The Basics:

For two days only, forget about juxtapositions, stolen moments and funny scenes; avoid fancy compositions and weird framings and avoid trying to come up with a story or a punchy title to match what you’re just about to shoot. Don’t over-think it! Just raise the camera and take pictures of people, then move on… It’s that simple!

Composition and focusing don’t need to be perfect, rough estimates will do. It doesn’t matter if your framing butchered an arm or two or if the focus is slightly off. Exposure doesn’t need to be perfect either. You can have blown highlights and clipped blacks. (“Blasphimist” I hear some camera club members shout out loud…)

All that matters is to grab those shots quickly and instinctively. As I said before, don’t worry much about the technical details and…

Don’t return home until you have at least 80 pictures (Or two rolls if you shoot film).

When you get home, watch some TV or do something else you like to clear your head from photography. Then, load your pictures on your computer, delete the totally rubbish ones and pick out the best and worst pictures from your crop. Analyse why you like the better ones and even more importantly, why you don’t like the rest. Then select your favourite one and send it over (More details further down). Simple! But there’s a catch! (well… two)

The Catch(es):

Cropping is not allowed! As mentioned earlier, the aim is to produce one picture that you can be proud of. It doesn’t need to be perfect but it needs to inspire you. And to be honest, there’s no greater inspiration than producing a lovely frame straight out of the camera.

An additional catch is that you are required to restrict yourself only to one focal length. The easiest way of doing this is to use a prime lens (dig that 50mm f/1.8 you never use out of the closet) but can also be done by keeping your zoom lens at one focal length for the day (Though, it is my personal opinion that doing so is virtually impossible). If you want an additional channel, or want to make things slightly more interesting, use a wide focal length (35mm full frame equivalent or wider).

The Details & Rules:

Remember:

  1. This is not a contest! It’s an assignment that aims to inspire.
  2. Adherence to the rules is self-regulated. There’s no way of us knowing if you cropped the picture or not; if it is spontaneous or planned etc… As the purpose of the assignment is to improve your skills, if you cheat the rules, you’re only cheating yourself.
  3. Anyone can join the fun, it doesn’t matter what camera you use or where you live.
  4. Don’t forget to spread the word! If you can think of someone who would enjoy this assignment, point them to this direction. Alternatively, you can Tweet or Like the post.

Rules:

  1. Final Submission Date/Time for pictures is Wednesday, 31/08/2011 at 16:00 GMT Saturday, 10/09/11 at 12:00 GMT
    .
  2. Pictures can be B/W or Colour but must be shot on or after Friday, 26/08/2011.
  3. Any post processing is allowed apart from cropping. Excessive post processing should be avoided.
  4. Maximum dimensions of submitted pictures are: 1100px wide for landscape orientation, 800px for portrait orientation. Maximum allowed file size per photo is 450KB. Click here to find out how to submit a photo and the conditions.
  5. Only one photo can be submitted per participant. If someone submits two or more pictures, only the last one submitted with be used.
  6. Submissions will be featured on this blog next Friday, 02/09/2011 on Monday, 12/09/11.

Finally, if you have any questions shout them out in the message box below.

So… who’s up for it?

There are 16 comments in this article:

  1. August 26, 2011Stuart Grout says:

    Sound interesting.

    Have just picked up an old Pentax Spotmatic II from e-bay and this looks like a more interesting way of shooting some test rolls than usual.

  2. August 26, 2011Christakis says:

    Hi Stuart, looks like you’re the first brave one to step up to the challenge :-) Looking forward to your entry, shouldn’t be hard to get a good one as Manchester will be full of people this weekend.
    Old or not, I’m sure the Pentax will serve you well. Looking into getting an old camera myself, hopefully this weekend :-)

  3. August 26, 2011Mike C says:

    I am going camping this weekend, and probably won’t have a digital camera with me….But between today and Tuesday I will do my best to have an entry for you!

    I’ll do my bit in promoting it too :o)

  4. August 26, 2011Christakis says:

    Good to know you’re up for it Mike, I’m sure you will come back with a lovely entry. Thanks for the promo Have fun camping over the weekend and thanks for the promo!

    PS: I think camping sounds like a job for the Zorki…

  5. August 26, 2011Mike C says:

    No worries, fella!

    And yes, I also think camping sounds like a job for the Zorki ;o)

  6. August 26, 2011[Gm] says:

    I’m afraid I have to pass on this one, Christakis.

    I tend to be (or still?) happy-snappy with the shutter button. Now I want to refrain myself in taking snapshots, and learn how to visualize a shot before taking it. So, it’s in contrast with your assignment here.

  7. August 26, 2011Christakis says:

    No worries [Gm], as long as you are trying something new. That’s all that matters :-)

  8. August 28, 2011Helder Ferreira says:

    Having a busy busy week with no time for photography of any kind… but I’m curious on the results and I’m sure you will have more assignments over time..so let’s see… :)

  9. August 29, 2011Street Photo Assignment #1 – Entry Submission Deadline Extended | Manchester Street Photography says:

    […] hope you managed to get some good shots for Street Photo Assignment #1 over the weekend. I’m happy to say I’ve bumped into a couple people taking pictures […]

  10. September 4, 2011Chris Sanford says:

    This sounds great!

  11. September 5, 2011Christakis says:

    Hi Chris, thanks. Assuming you’ll give it a stab? Looking forward to your entry.

  12. September 6, 2011Tim Allen says:

    Hi Christakis, just emailed you my entry, I hope you like it.

    Cheers,
    Tim.

  13. September 9, 2011Street Photo Assignment #1 – 24h Remaining For Submissions | Manchester Street Photography says:

    […] everyone near and afar, just a quick reminder that the deadline of submissions for Street Photo Assignment #1 is fast approaching. If you haven’t submitted one already, you now have just under 24 hours […]

  14. September 9, 2011Georgie Mathew says:

    Hi

    I’m in. Just submitted my entry by mail

    Cheers
    Georgie

  15. September 9, 2011Danish Mishra says:

    Count me in.

    Cheers

    Danish

  16. October 24, 2011Street Photo Assignment #2 – “Why?” Street Photography. | Manchester Street Photography says:

    […] first assignment was very practical and extremely defined. It challenged your normal street photography techniques […]

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