We are graced in the UK with some of the most scenic landscape locations in the world, but also some of the most architecturally interesting cities in the world that provide a wonderful backdrop for the sometimes divisive subject of "Street Photography".
I recently made a last minute and first time visit to the Scottish capital Edinburgh, to spend a couple of hours shooting with ‘YouTuber’ Sean Tucker, and spending the rest of the day exploring and capturing the urban landscape of this incredible city.
As with any city that holds the world status that Edinburgh does, it is very easy to get suckered into the tourist trap with the wealth of ‘Must-See’ locations like Edinburgh Castle. Whilst these types of locations hold their own historical importance and significance to the tourist industry, to me a city’s heart sits within the interesting backstreets that are tucked away from the tourist routes within a sprawling metropolis like this, within the faces of the people that call it home, to the passer’s through like me on this day long visit.
Heading towards the weekend of my visit we had been graced with a mini heat wave across the UK, and although I knew this was due to break for my trip, nothing had really prepared me for the downpour Scottish style that welcomed my arrival. Something that remained a constant threat throughout the day!
The flip side is that in many ways it could be considered a street photographers dream with streets, cobbled or otherwise, glistening with a rich texture and sheen from the rain, the resolve in the faces of people battling against the adverse weather conditions, and the visitors trying their very best to hold that tourist smile of wonder within the most photogenic of surroundings.
I think most street photographers would agree, me included, is that a large part of the appeal of this genre is the exploration aspect, playing a vital part and sitting alongside the capturing of those personal human moments, most never to be repeated.
In this respect Edinburgh was the perfect host, offering some of the most intriguing locations if you just take a little time to explore away from the shopping and tourist routes.
As an aside to the big architectural vista’s that the city offers up, the veins and original lifeblood of the city lay within the narrow backstreets that weave their way like arteries from the main thoroughfares, providing a deeper look at the history and just as interesting photographically as anything this city has to offer.
The main tenant of street photography is capturing people going about their lives in any given location, but shooting in larger locations like this that are very tourist orientated, it can be challenging at the best of times. It radically changes the feel of a location, the real history masked in a veil of consumerism. Thankfully part of the fun of street photography is scratching below the surface, finding the ‘Real’ locations, and using photography to tell the story of the people who inhabit those spaces, no matter their background or reason for being there
Unlike most genres of photography, street has a real immediacy to it with very little time to setup and prepare for a shot. It’s very essence is based on capturing fragments of time, forcing senses on high alert whilst you wait for the right person to finish your composition. It is certainly not a genre that sits comfortable with everyone, most uncomfortable with walking down a street and photographing total strangers, so although there is a resurgence of interest in it, it is still not for everyone.
Despite this immediacy, it is possible to use a tripod setup if shooting from one spot for a while or building in the feeling of movement through longer exposures, something I like to do. Even with a tripod, that need to capture that perfect moment keeps your senses alert.
For those who are still on the fence, I would urge you to give it a go. You can quite often get a different view on the town or city where you live, a more distilled perspective on people and their everyday habits that can at times be eye opening. Most importantly it can give you a different skill set that is transferable to other aspects of your photography.
Scott’s Kit for the trip
Knowing that I was going to be making the trip via a 2½ hour coach ride, and then being on my feet all day, it was essential that I picked my kit carefully, taking carry weight, size, versatility and functionality into consideration. It’s always tempting to pack as much as possible, then realise you have to carry it all day!!
Firstly, I opted for the Vanguard VEO 42 Discover Backpack, a nice light and comfortable to wear for extended periods pack, it is small enough to not be overbearing, but more than enough storage for a mirrorless kit with enough lens options to keep you covered. It is laden with additional space for any other bits you may need (I am Mr Over Prepared).
My Tripod option for this trip was the Vanguard VEO 2 235AB. Admittedly not the lightest in the Vanguard range, with maybe the VEO 2GO 204CB a good alternative, but was more than light and small enough to carry around all day, especially when slotted into the Discover Backpack’s Tripod pouch holder. It offers fantastic stability and wonderful setup options and am always confidant it won’t let me down.
Next up are a couple of smaller items that are no less useful. The Vanguard Vesta TT1 is a mini tripod that is perfect to slot into your camera bag (or pocket) and always have with you. Its perfect for setting up on a wall or a location where a full tripod is impractical, furthermore it comes with a mobile phone adaptor, expanding its functionality beyond your camera!
Next up is an item that stems from my need to keep things tidy in my camera bag, so I can find equipment quickly. The Vanguard Alta Battery Case is perfect for keeping things tidy, and although the backpack has battery slots, I find it really convenient to have a pouch that I can just pull out with ease, without having to sit with your camera bag open as you change over. There are also other little compartments within, so very useful and versatile.
About The Author
Scott Read is a photographer and life adventurer who calls County Durham his home. He can usually be found capturing the vast surrounding landscapes, sprawling cityscapes and the people who inhabit those spaces in our world. Fuelled with a strong work ethic, Scott continues to strive and improve his craft by drawing on the knowledge gained by over 25 years in the print, media & design industry, adopting a broad creative perspective as he 'absorbs' life with it's intricacies and applies it to his photography.
"Photography is an important part of my head space.....it is about discovery, life's living flow, seeing how a heart feels in a fleeting moment, it is to be on a street, in a landscape....about a time, experiencing, understanding, learning, freedom of being, of living, of thinking...." – Scott Read
See more of Scott's work on his Facebook