City Photography: Capturing The Everyday

Take a ride with Brian Cason (@briancason) as he shares photography tips about capturing the every day in your city. Learn how to find beauty in the city.

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There’s more to capturing cities than big buildings and beautiful architecture. Just as the cityscape helps define the landscape of a city, the people and its scenery on the ground help to define its culture. Whether I’m traveling somewhere new or walking around my home base in NYC I love taking the time to really immerse myself in the surroundings. Being inspired by normal, everyday moments can provide a new perspective in any city.

Here are a few things I’ve learned while photographing the every day in cities:

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Candid shots are typically about being in the right place at the right time. This can often take a bit of patience, just waiting for the right time. What to look for varies by city, but I’m always fascinated by the movement of people and vehicles against the backdrop of local culture.

When walking around NYC I will often frequent busy intersections, just waiting until an interesting pattern in people and traffic emerges. Playing with symmetry and light, especially the combination of people and building reflections. You would be surprised how these basic elements provide some memorable shots. I like using the Moment Case’s grip and shutter button to comfortably capture these types of candids.

Outside of patterns I like to find cultural items that are only commonplace to that specific city. For example it’s not everyday that you find a street vendor selling live lobster.

Whether it’s an interesting person walking by or an exchange between people on the street, patience is the most important aspect in capturing candid shots.

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Walking into a coffee shop.

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Portraits of Strangers

Snapping portraits of locals is a great way to capture the essence of a city, plus it’s fun to meet people you would never normally talk to. The key to portraits of strangers is to make a personal connection before taking the shot.

Think about what caught your eye in the first place. Was it their smile? Their style? Compliment them on what it was that you found so striking and why you’d like to capture them in a photograph.

When photographing a stranger it’s important to make them feel comfortable. I tend to not over direct with strangers and let them just be themselves in whatever context I meet them. You can take it a step further and connect with them on social media, it’s a great way for you to share the image with them later.

Of course you should expect plenty of rejection as most people don’t want their photo taken. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the fastest way to grow as a photographer.

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Beauty in the worn

Amidst the hustle and bustle of a city there are thousands of small, picturesque scenes that are happening all around you. There’s a certain beauty to the mundane, the run down, and the ugly. And in a city you walk by a lot of these scenes every single day.

Capturing the mundane is a bit harder because you have to be present to your surroundings, which can be challenging when you are commuting to work every day. I find that just deciding you want to go shoot is the first step. Second I start walking, looking at anything that jumps out at me.

While graffiti and crumbling posters can be seen as an eyesore, I like to observe the colors and textures they provide. Garbage and broken objects can be found on just about any block, but I look for things like light and contrasting surroundings to bring out a unique combination of elements. Composition becomes key in producing striking images so I tend to take my time and look at the setting from different angles. Using the Moment App sliders, I tend to adjust the exposure and temperature while shooting so that the images I capture require less editing later. Capturing these types of scenes is a way that one can find beauty wherever they are.

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