PEOPLE ON THEIR PHONES – A CHALLENGE FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

The landscape for street photography has always been changing with the times, of course, as it’s subject itself, the culture and society, has been changing and evolving. Has it become easier or more difficult for the street photographer? Well, it depends. Here I just want to share my thoughts on the challenge the smart phone introduced. I am not talking about using a smart phone to take photos, but rather that many people in the public space are on their smart phones most of the times nowadays.

Most often they are so immersed, that they don’t take notice of their surroundings. That makes them an easy “target” for street photographers. Unfortunately there is less social interaction in the public and often I end up with the same pictures:

I don’t think I have ever come back from a day out without a very similar picture. Therefore it does become a challenge to take an interesting photo sometimes, but the fact that people are so captivated by their phones can also be an advantage. You can get closer and have more time to compose the shot:

It becomes even more important to look for interesting gestures, juxtapositions or multiple people on their phones:

Last but not least, if the subject itself is unique, it doesn’t really matter….

TIP: People are so used to seeing others on their phones. If I want to get really close in I pretend I am on my phone myself, e.g. texting or on Google maps, while actually shooting with my camera from hip level. People might notice you just for a second, but won’t pay any attention to you as soon as they realise you are on your phone :)