Coney Island is a street photographers paradise. The colors, action, and people get photographers of every genre something to shoot. Here are a few tips for your Coney Island street photography if you are planning a trip to the Brooklyn shore.
Walk the entire boardwalk. There is so much to see, and you will be missing out if you concentrate only on the area in front of the amusement park rides. This area of Brooklyn has a wealth of people to photograph, and includes just about every ethnicity under the sun. Want to see the real NYC? Then walk from Sea Gate to Brighton Beach.
No photos of nudity or of anyone eating. Most people feel vulnerable in a bathing suit. Also, everyone can see you with your camera. You are not that sly. Do not creep people out by concentrating your photographic efforts on nearly naked people, anyone putting food in her/his mouth, or children. If you think you were taking a creepy photo, then you are.
Smile and take your sunglasses off. Along the lines of point number two, if you show people you are friendly, then they will be much more open to having their picture taken. Act like you were trying to steal a shot, and your subject will react accordingly. Sometimes an uncomfortable reaction can’t be helped, but I always smile and wave when someone sees me taking their photo.
Say hello! You’ve smiled…you’ve waved…now walk over and say hello. Street photography requires balls. Step up and introduce yourself. You never know who you’ll meet. Case in point: this is Troy, with his tricked out boombox/wheelchair set up. I took his photo and waved walking down to Sea Gate, then stopped to chat on the way back. Terrific guy.
Business cards are handy. While I was chatting with Troy, the question came up, “What are you going to do with the photo?” I explained I’m normally a wedding photographer, and street photography was my hobby. He was fine with that answer, as most people are. No one wants to see their image used in an ad or to have an unflattering photo displayed. It is normal for people to show hesitation around a stranger photographing them. Show the photo on the back of your camera and without a business card for instant credibility. Who knows? You might get a future client from networking.
Less equipment equals less intimidation. Photographers wearing two cameras, a huge telephoto lens, and tons of gear on their back stand out like a douche bag in the noon day sun. Don’t be that douche bag. My street photography gear is one camera and a 24-70 mm lens that always gets the job done. For even more subtlety, I go for my 50 mm lens F/2.5 or my 85 mm F/1.8 lens. Shorter Lynn’s equals less between you and your subject. This is a great tip for family portraits as well.
Wear shoes that you can easily slip off. Time to get sandy, people!
Bring hand soap and wet wipes. The bathrooms down at the Coney Island sure are overused and notoriously nasty. Touch nothing.
If you would like to see more New York street photography from my personal portfolio, then please visit my website — www.Kelly-Williams.com.