Many responsibilities fall onto the shoulders of a director. The most important responsibility is to design time.
Directing means ensuring that the full spectrum of an idea and each moving part come together harmoniously throughout a project.
Yet rarely does this go according to the plan.
One way to hone this skill is to include street photography with run-and-gun style concepts into your repertoire. At Morii we first fell in love with visual art by air(drones) and this took us straight to DSLRs(digital cameras). The practice of piloting drones and capturing content in flight is spontaneous and unpredictable. That is of course once you make it past the tons of rules, permits and flight areas. Once that is all set you are inevitably confronted with the fact that you can't control the weather. At least not in Dublin, Ireland where Morii is based. You also can't control nature.
Instead of betting on road trips, we opted to film the city and just like that our eyes were opened to the multitude of beautiful aspects of visual art.
Run & Gun: A Morii Guide to Street Videography
At Morii we would bet our cameras on raw honesty being the ultimate allure to art. This is perhaps the biggest argument for the rapidly growing interest and adaptations of street photography and videography.
Often mislabeled as solely urban, it crosses disciplines often.
You can view videography in two ways and reflect on them.
When mirrored there is a polished planned and as close to predictably artistic side to videography. This is the type that happens on set and in a studio and meticulously crafted settings.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is where you find street videography and when time permits additionally the Morii team skill-building on a Run and Gun session.
What is Run&Gun? What is Street Videography, why is it so captivating and joy-inducing and how can you add it to your repertoire?
This is probably the place we are most comfortable as this was the first place that induced joy as we learnt to fly drones and capture shots on the go. So let's dive in.
Street videography and street photography can be very vague terms to distinguish them from other methods of content creation, let’s look at them through the lens of street photography definition first. Pun intended.
What is street photography?
Street photography is a photographic practice of shooting people in everyday life in everyday environments. The aim is to capture spontaneous moments of people and any environment in raw moments. It is typically directed and staged as little as possible. Preferably not at all. Again street photography is not limited to busy cities or rural areas. This type of photography can be taken anywhere that sparks your curiosity.
Elements of a Run & Gun:
Guide to a Morii Run & Gun session
Ethics and code of conduct
There are implications to capturing candid photos. The essence of street videography/Photography is authenticity and rawness. So many creators avoid asking permission before capturing footage of unsuspecting people.
First and foremost, check the laws where you are shooting. In most public spaces it is completely legal to capture anything or anybody you want. The caveats appear in how and in the ways you use the content. Here is a great video by Sean Tucker on the laws and logistics of street photography.
This is from a UK perspective and Sean shares a conversation with a legal team. Make sure to validate these with the law and logistics that apply to you.
Morii ethics and unwritten rules to live by
That being said, there are certain ethics to this type of content creation. You may be confronted with the notorious questions, “Why are you filming me?” or “Why did you take a photo of me?”
When faced with these questions it is important, to be honest, and direct. Reassure them that you are a street photographer following your curiosity and that they should take this as a compliment.
Some photographers even offer to share contact info to share the photo once it is developed. It is also a great idea to have a portfolio ready to show them. Above all, be kind and courteous. Taking street photography requires courage and honesty so get used to being confronted about your work.
Run & Gun Inspiration
What to capture
What makes good street videography? It can often be a vague genre that is dependent on where you live or where you are shooting. However, no matter the location, there are a few general characteristics most street videographers develop a knack for.
Photography is a medium through which stories and meaning can be communicated through a single image. Juxtaposition is one of the most effective tools photographers have for achieving this.
Think of how this concept applies to the image below.
Finding naturally occurring juxtaposition can create meaning within short-form content and even a single image. And meaning is what most viewers are drawn to. Framing two unlike things within the same frame or drawing similarities or differences between subjects creates captivating visual art.
Emotions and reactions
As we mentioned earlier, a key characteristic of this style is authenticity. It is an opportunity to capture people in their most honest state.
Look for emotions in the people around you and be quick to capture them. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Emotions connect people to the visual and tell a story.
Incorporating movement into shots imbues them with life. People mid-action can tell complete stories in still images, short slow-motion sequences, time-lapses etc. The benefit of street photography is that there is a higher priority on content than technique. When you get a glimpse of something you feel is worth capturing, point and shoot.
Funny and odd
It is often the case that real events and things are stranger than imaginary ones. Great creators have an eye for observing these moments. They are frequently over in seconds, so being present and trusting your instincts when something unique presents itself will help you capture these moments.
Zoning in on what to look for takes time and repetition. The best way to practice is to go out and shoot and develop your eye.
Here are some tips to get you going.
There are no preset rules or guidelines for the best equipment. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to equipment due to the nature of this particular style of content creation.
Most photographers opt for DSLR cameras or mirrorless cameras. The good thing about these is they are quick to shoot, cheaper to take a photo (than film), and can take hundreds even thousands of photos with just a few SD cards.
The downside is that digital cameras are often big and can be counterproductive and tedious. You don't want to be this guy.
Film vs Digital
Many creators opt for smaller film cameras for their street photography. Film produces a unique aesthetic in photography that can appear less polished — a look that complements street photography. Super 8 cameras are also great for this format.
The downside is that film can have the side effect of emptying your bank account too. Do the math based on your needs and choose your camera based on your budget and style. The camera that can get you to create the fastest is the best one.
There seem to be a seemingly infinite type of lenses to choose from. For most prime lens seems to be the prime option. They are smaller than zoom lenses and using the same focal length is easy to adjust to overtime. The upside is being lighter on your feet and faster on the trigger.
On a run & gun session, it is good etiquette to bring only one lens on the shoot. The moment waits for no one.
Shooting a bit wide at 35mm or 24mm will allow you to get close to subjects, but also shoot entire scenes. If you are just getting started and you are anxious about getting close to subjects, normal or telephoto lenses at 50 mm or 75mm will allow you to shoot from further away.
If any of this sounds intimidating or too expensive, use whatever camera you have. A growing trend in street photography/videography is going camera phone only. The entire practice is based on the act of going out and just creating.
Here are a few general tips to help you keep a good pace on your runs.
Trust your instincts. Above all, trusting your instincts when something is worth shooting is paramount. Things happen fast in everyday life. Listening to your gut and hitting the shutter without thinking too much is key to getting great content.
Most creators spend a large chunk of each outing just walking the streets and being attentive. The best subject matter to shoot appears when you have no specific destination. The most spontaneous moments are easier to spot and catch when mid aimlessly walking.
Street photographer Daniel Arnold shares insight on how minimum preparation, walking and instincts result in appealing visual art.
There is just something nice in the experience of looking and deciding that the dullness of life itself is wothy of attention.
Famed journalistic photographer Robert Capa once said, “If it’s not good enough, you’re not close enough.” This couldn’t be more true for street photography.
While it may seem intimidating to get close, find means of getting there and be prepared to talk to your subjects openly and honestly. This next tip will also help you get even closer.
Don’t be afraid to shoot from the hip. One of the most intimidating aspects of street photography is taking a stranger’s photo without permission. A way to overcome this is to shoot from the hip or without looking through the viewfinder.
This is especially convenient when using wide-angle lenses on auto settings. This way, you'll be more likely to capture your subject without looking through the viewfinder. Shooting from the hip will get you closer and draw less attention to yourself as a photographer.
As we mentioned earlier, you are not the paparazzi. Do your best to blend into your environment and not draw attention to yourself. Not only will you be less invasive, but you’ll be able to get close to your subjects and the action.
Enjoy the process!
Lastly, the most important part of all artistic mediums is to enjoy the process. This means following your curiosities and shooting what you are happy to shoot. Challenge and push yourself, but enjoy doing so.
This may mean talking to your subjects if that brings you joy. Or simply using the photographic medium as your voice and mode of expression. We use it as a place to learn how to design time and create great content in unknown settings.
Enjoying the process inevitably gets you out shooting more often and helps you become a better photographer.
Happy Run and Gun!