two people at night talking to a driver in a car

How I Shoot | Street Photography

Jan Tichy

When I shoot people I don't know anything about, it adds a sense of mystery to the image. I practice many photographic genres, from weddings, architecture, landscapes, portraits, and sometimes even detail or product shots. However, when I go through my archives, the images of people, their faces, and expressions attract me the most. I love to photograph my family, friends, and people I meet, but I also like to photograph people whose stories I don't know. Plus, there is never a lack of strangers as they are always anywhere you go.

man walking along the street with the sun behind him

© Jan Tichy | Sony α7 IV + FE 35mm f/1.4 GM | 1/250s @ f/8.0, ISO 320

Generally, I shoot street images on the go, filling any free time I may have during the day, or night. When you don't know where you are going and what you can expect, it makes it even more enjoyable.

If I know I intend to shoot street photos, I will take the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 G Master lens or the FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA. Both lenses offer fantastic image quality, even when shooting at f/1.4. Also with simple lens controls, they’re easy to use and not too heavy, meaning I can carry them when I’m walking around for a long time.

But, if I am carrying my camera with me, ‘just in case’, I usually take smaller and lighter lenses like the FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA or the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to these lenses, as they’re small but very powerful. They help me capture crisp and sharp images, every time.

shadow of a child crawling over a rooftop

© Jan Tichy | Sony α7 IV + FE 35mm f/1.4 GM | 1/8000s @ f/1.4, ISO 100

I like to blend the mood or the energy of the moment in the image. I also want to document places that are slowly disappearing under modern glass buildings and shopping centers so that future viewers can see how our cities looked in the past.

Becoming Invisible

Being unseen by people I photograph on the street makes for a truly great shot. This is because I can take authentic and natural looking images as people don't know they are being photographed.

rainy street with a figure in the distance

© Jan Tichy | Sony α7 IV + FE 35mm f/1.4 GM | 1/125s @ f/5.6, ISO 1600

You become more invisible when people around you do not see where you are looking, so hiding your eyes can work very well. Dark sunglasses or a baseball cap tends to do the trick.

Sometimes I have even used the Sony RMT-P1BT remote release with my camera. I can hold or let the camera hang at my waist whilst triggering the camera from my pocket. It is brilliant, especially when combined with Alpha 9 II's silent shutter.

If something suddenly happens, I am attracted to the "moment", and nothing else is important. I try to focus quickly on the subject and compose as fast as possible. The excellent Autofocus Tracking feature means I can concentrate on the composition and timing of the image too, knowing that the camera will precisely track the subject effortlessly.

misty park at night lit by orange streetlamps

© Jan Tichy | Sony α9 II + FE 24mm f/1.4 GM | 1/30s @ f/1.4, ISO 1250

Being discreet is good for everyone. One, because it is less likely that I will run into any issues and two, I don’t have to give an awkward explanation as to what I am doing. On the other hand, when someone notices you, eye contact can make the image more personal and brings it to life!

One rule I have when photographing on the streets is that I do not photograph people in embarrassing moments. I do not want to annoy people both on the street or even later if, by any chance, they get to see the picture somewhere.

Yet, despite loving strolling the streets and capturing images, I don’t always get an interesting image every time. In some cases, I am lucky and in others, I am not.  But that’s the fun of it – not knowing exactly what I will photograph and bring home is what draws me to street photography time after time.

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Jan Tichy

Jan Tichy | Czech Republic

"Photography gave me the greatest gift – seeing the world with a unique perspective. There is so much beauty and magic around us that is worth capturing. Just keep searching for it and always be ready"

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