Above you see 2 solutions to a problem. Interesting subjects with great lighting, expressions, and movement that make a great photo. Which photo did you take?
The bottom photo is what most everybody takes. It has everything that makes an interesting image. Contrasting hair colors. They both have their hair bundled up but with different styles. One has a solid color sweater, the other has a pattern. The both even have about the same amount of stray hair. The red hair matches her sweater. The background glow matches her hair. The other has white hair to contrast with the dark sweater.
This photo is the one that most people take because of these reasons and because it is easier. To put it simply, your not going to get noticed taking the image and that is very important for most photographers. Being noticed taking a photo and the possibility of being confronted is to much for most people. It is an interesting image, but with just a little work it can be so much better.
Compare the top image to the bottom image. It is so much better because of one aspect of the image. We can see their faces and can see that they are deeply interested in something. The fact that the redhead is motioning to what they are looking at. The way that they are leaning into what they are looking at. I love how the redhead is holding the glasses in her other hand is such a wonderful detail. That they are wearing similar glasses is another great detail. The fabric in the lower left of the image mirrors the pattern on the redheads sweater. The straight white lines on the black sweater contrast with the “V’s” on the other sweater. The image really comes together.
The image with the faces was taken first and I went around to see what the back looked like and immediately took the second image. I knew right away this was a teachable moment for my blog. For the image from the front I used the live view function of my Leica M10. First that got me to eye level. I didn’t want to shoot down and get the tops of their heads. It was also important for me to get the expression on their faces, that is so important in images of people. If I had squatted down in front of the I would have drawn a lot of attention to myself and I know the ladies would have stopped what they were doing and looked at me.
My first rule in street shooting is not to interrupt people’s lives. My photos are not so important that I can do whatever I want to get a photo. But at the same time, if you need to, be brave when taking your photos. Sometimes you’ve got to take a chance when shooting. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I just don’t like photos of the backs of people’s heads. And I see a lot of those photos on Instagram. Look for the special moments and little details that make an image special. Good Luck.