The Los Angeles Recordings

A photographic portrait of Los Angeles & the people who live here.

Street Photography Workflow (Part 1)

I’ve decided to write a few posts about my street photography set up and workflow to provide some insight into my approach. It’s not meant to be a definitive guide or anything like that, just some details about what works for me. My hope is that it’ll be an interesting read for more experienced photographers and provide some useful information for those just getting started.

Although I use film for the majority of my landscape/fine art work, I usually work with the Fuji X system for my street photography. I have two Fuji X cameras, a X70 compact with a fixed 18mm lens (28mm equiv.) and a XE3 with the 27mm (40mm equiv.) pancake lens. Both are great options for different reasons but for this post I’m going to focus on using the Fuji X70. I’ll post a follow up on the XE3 at a later date.

The Fuji X70 is a very small camera with external controls for focus, aperture and shutter speed. One of the best things about the X70 is the near silent leaf shutter, which really helps me keep a low profile. It has a 16mp sensor and the lens is very sharp between F6.4 and F8, which is the range I work with most often. It’s fine outside of that range but that’s where I’ve gotten the best results. I shoot RAW+jpg and normally the camera is set to the Monochrome G (green filter) setting.

I use the zone focus method when I shoot street and the Fuji has a great digital distance guide when set to manual focus. I wear the camera around my neck and set the lens to have anything between about 7 and 10 feet in focus. I’ve found (through MUCH trial and error) that this set up fits my style the best, your own results will likely vary. The most important thing is to experiment until you find a formula that works for what you’re trying to accomplish.

When it comes to metering I set the shutter speed and aperture manually. In bright sunlight (which is plentiful here in L.A.) I never go lower than 1/500th of a second and try to stay at 1/1000th. I’ve found that shutter range ensures that most images are sharp despite the occasional over/under exposed frame. The exposure latitude is pretty forgiving but that’s also why I shoot RAW just in case.

I process all of my work in Adobe Lightroom CC, which not only is a powerful editor but a great organizational tool. I’ve been a Lightroom user since version 1.0 and would be lost without it. I don’t edit my work much but I have put a lot of time into developing presets that I apply when I import the images. Other than those adjustments, I usually tweak exposure and straighten/crop if needed on my iPhone using the Lightroom Mobile app. Any changes made are synced to my master catalog so it is truly a mobile workflow.

Thanks for reading a bit about my street photography workflow! I plan on following up with some insight into how I use the Fuji XE3 for street work. It’s a very different camera but there are some advantages to that as well. Stay tuned!