There’s a powerful interplay between shadows and street photography and endless possibilities to explore – all you have to do is get out there and use your eyes! The mundane, the prosaic, even the most everyday street scene can be infused with a great sense of drama when light and shadows interact.
Shadows are a gift for the photographer; they can take your image to a whole new level, and the great news is that you don’t have to travel to any far-off or exotic location to find that magic mix of light and shade. Your local street can provide the perfect contrast of shadows and light, just as easily as any street in Paris, Istanbul or Budapest can.
In search of shadows
If you want strong contrasts of light and shade, morning and evening (sunrise and sunset) are usually the two best times of day.
You may get lucky and get some great images on your first outing, but be prepared to do some research first and check out the streets or area you plan to work in ahead of time. Simply by walking around and observing – while resisting the urge to shoot – you’ll be able to spot areas of particular interest and notice shadows cast by buildings, railings, trees, and traffic.
Also, look for good vantage points such as a walkway, bridge or roof, as shooting from height can be particularly effective when it comes to exploring shadows.
People and places
Put people and shadows together in the frame and you can achieve some great results. The shadow thrown by the solitary pedestrian can suggest all kinds of narratives and moods, from the comic through to the tragic.
Most of the time, you’ll want to work with the light at your back, but shooting into the light – if it’s not too harsh – can work as well. Just keep looking and go on shooting!