Anticipating the moment in street photography

Anticipation is a key element in street photography. But to understand it and acquire this skill you must first have a great ability to observe people and their behaviour. It requires spending months and months walking the streets and observing life around you. At this stage you don’t really need to take photographs. But whether you take photographs or not, by just observing the people in their environment, you will memorize consciously and unconsciously a large number of situations and scenes. From there, with a bit of effort in imagining and creating a situation that may happened, you will be able to anticipate a lot of of moments.

To illustrate this, here are the stories behind some of my images.
For this photograph, I was walking along the Weston Super Mare promenade. I was about to reach the bus stop when I though that I could photograph two or three different situations of life by using the bus stop’s architecture to split the image into three parts. I was already observing the two girls walking on the low wall. I knew that one of them was about to go down, possibly by jumping or doing something funny. I imagined the situation, anticipated the moment and the composition to frame both girls. I had also spotted the boy but I was not too sure of what he was about to do. But I wanted to include him to get one person in each part of the photograph. I walked fast to get the girl going down and shot only once to get this photograph. Although the composition and the moment came as I expected, I was pretty lucky to have the boy going up the low wall.

Bus stop and People on Weston Super Mare promenade (Jerome Lorieau)

Here is a much simpler way of anticipating taking pictures of a moving subject in the street. I spotted her unique way she was dressed from far away. Maybe because she was the only colourful subject around on a grey day. As she was walking towards me using her mobile phone I walked toward her, my camera in my hand ready to shoot her. I knew that there was a big chance that she wouldn’t look at me as she was busy using her phone. As I was walking towards her, at about 5-6 metres from her, I looked through my viewfinder and took this shot. Then I avoided her and carried on walking in the street. She didn’t even see me.

The City, London (Jerome Lorieau)

Anticipating, is also creating the moment, imagining it and then waiting for it to happen. Let’s take the photograph below. My main subject was the two Indian ladies drying a sari. The moment was nice but in my eyes, it was too simple to make it very interesting. As pilgrims were walking by, I anticipated the moment below and so positioned myself to create it.

Indian women drying a sari along the Ganges river bank, Sangam (Jerome Lorieau)

Here the process is exactly the same. I observed the moving shadows of people on the wall, thought of an unexpected moment and waited a little while to get this shot.

Man walking on Essaouira Medina's rampart (Jerome Lorieau)

The way I work to compose and approach photography is something that I explain more during my workshops through a study and discussion of some of my photographs. My upcoming workshops include, 4 days in Lisbon, 4 days in Paris, 1 week in Istanbul and 2 weeks in India.