Shooting Challenge: B&W Street Photography

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: B&W Street Photography

We may see the world in color, but something about black and white street photography catches a different essence of the human experience.


The Challenge

For this week's Shooting Challenge, we're celebrating street photography. Take a candid photo of someone on the street...and do so in black and white (because black and white looks amazing for the genre, especially if you actually shoot with film.)

We ran a candid challenge a while back, but I'm hoping to see grittier, more aggressive work this time. Think documentary or photojournalist. While you don't need to technically be on the street, take your photo in a public space and don't use a subject that you know*.

*In most states, anyone in public can be photographed. But you should always check with local laws and regulations.

The Example

Our lead photos are by Vivian Maier, a Chicago-based nanny who practiced photography in her spare time. Her work, which she didn't share with others during her life, is just being discovered and celebrated today...and there's a lot being found. If you'd like to learn more, there's a blog dedicated to her.


The Technique

Cameras like Leicas and Lomos are the unassuming, unobtrusive tools of choice for this sort of thing. But really, the key is to blend in to your environment while photographing with the proper settings to snag a shot without motion blur - a person/moment frozen in time.


Cellphones are an obvious go-to choice, assuming you are somewhere with enough light to capture the shot.

For digital users, don't be afraid to crank up your ISO to accommodate a fast shutter speed. And there are greater sins than increasing the brightness and contrast in post production to emulate the dynamic range of B&W film.


As for the black and white requirement - that can be an in-camera setting or done in post.


1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, February 21st at 8AM Eastern to with "Street Photography" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameStreet.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameStreetWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of photography blog Life, Panoramic as well as Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.