Let The Leap Year Challenge Begin
Day One - The Street
It’s Leap Year. That means February has an extra day making the month 29 days long. An extra 24 hours. There’s nothing special about the day other than the physics of time and place. What better than to think about how to build a better photo portfolio? Use a month with an extra day to create a daily challenge.
Let’s begin a 29-Day Challenge to make a great portfolio.
Day 1: Street Life
Capture the bustling energy and the daily life of a street in your city.
Part of me says to find different streets in your city that are known for their vibrant energy, unique characters, and visual appeal. Then I say don’t even think about it. Every street has those qualities if you’re ready to abandon preconceived ideas about what makes a great street photo.
It doesn’t matter what time of the day you go. Give up going when the street is most alive. Go at 4:30 in the morning to see who is out, who is just going to work, who’s straggling home in a walk of shame. Go as the restaurants and bars close. Go when it won’t be easy.
To make it easy take the camera and lenses that you are comfortable with. Where’s the pleasure in that? Take a setup that tests you. Something that requires looking a second time at the subject not analyzing its intrinsic qualities but how can you make a great photo using only what you brought?
Focus on people whose activities and style add life and story to the street. Look for anyone who represents the essence of the street’s culture. Be respectful and considerate. Use this moment to engage in conversation with your subjects to make them feel more comfortable and to make them understand the photo is about them and not just for you.
Look for compositions that may include the street’s architecture, its signs and banners, and natural lines that lead the viewer’s eye through the photo.
Pay attention to the quality of light and how it interacts with the environment whether it is golden hour light with a warm, magical quality, noon with its hard angular light, or a cloudy day where the clouds are a giant softbox. Use the light to your advantage.
Capture small details that help tell a story about street life, such as the expressions and gestures of the people you meet, and their relationship to the street environment. These details can add depth to your portfolio.
Experiment. Change perspective shooting high or low. Use the Dutch angle sparingly. Very sparingly. Use a variety of shutter speeds to either freeze the motion or create a blur that conveys movement.
At the end of the day look at what worked and what didn’t. Choose the most dynamic photo with striking lighting, composition, and timing.
Consider what story each photo tells and how it contributes to the narrative of your series. This selection process is crucial for developing your eye. You may have to come back here after shooting the next 28 days to choose a different frame or modify the post-processing to match the overall feel of the series.
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