Anticipation play significant role in street photography. Photo editor Olivier Laurent described it well in an interview with Lensculture, where he said what’s special for him in street photography:
“There’s something poetic about street photography.
It’s not just about being there—it’s about imagination,
it’s about seeing the future. And by that, I mean
being able to anticipate where different elements of
a photograph—the street, the signs, the people—will
align to make the perfect picture. There are many street
photographers out there, but the great ones are poets
and, like in any other field of photography, there are just
a few of them.”
To demonstrate what he means I am going to show you set of images that I took in December 2017 in Vienna. (That’s not to say that I think I am one of the poets and the result is perfect) I was walking close to Schwarzenbergplatz where I noticed a nice coffee place lit by morning light. There was a reflection in windows decorated with red Christmas flowers, Christmas tree and people enjoying hot beverages. So I started working out the scene and this is what it looked like.
I felt I could make a nice shot. I got closer to a window as I anticipated some interesting situation could ensue. For me it’s kind of a gut feeling, and when I have it usually what I anticipate really happens. A waiter appeared in a frame to clean a table. There was a mirror inside that reflected also beautiful chandeliers (first image shows that what’s further in a background is just a reflection)
He spent just a few seconds there but that was enough time for me to capture several photos and come up with a composition I liked. Later when I reviewed all photos I decided to edit top right photo (displayed below) as he stretches closer to window. Captivating red flowers, nice light, his expression, reflection of the interior, all of these things came together nicely, but it wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t anticipated it.
And here is a final edited photo.
Henry Carroll in his book ‘Read this if you want to take great photographs of people’ puts it this way:
“You always have to be one step ahead, analyzing and anticipating the world as it unfolds around you. Travel light: no tripod and no bulky kit bag. Train your eye: see people ‘within’ the context of the foreground, middle distance and background. Be agile: when you spot something, seize the moment like your life depends on it.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson SPAIN. Madrid. 1933.
If you go to shoot next time, observe your surroundings, have an open mind and be prepared to react quickly. Situations in the streets are changing and often you need to anticipate them in order to capture a so called ‘decisive moment’.
2 Thoughts on Street photography: Anticipation