Shooting Challenge #15 -- Street Photography (Win a Canon This Week, Too)

By Martin Snelling on at

This week Gizmodo UK is celebrating the dreamers; the unsung heroes that many of us have never heard of. These are the people that work tirelessly for their art with little or no recognition in their lifetime. Not wishing to deviate from this theme, it didn't take me long (about 30 seconds) to think of someone suitable in the world of photography. Mind you, if you enter this week's challenge and win, you won't be without recognition, because yes, we have a pretty damn good prize for this week's challenge.

Think of famous 'street photographers' and names that pop up will undoubtedly be Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Eugene Atget. One name that you may not be aware of is Vivian Maier. Born in New York, Vivian Maier (1926-2009) wasn't a professional photographer, in fact, she spent most of her adult life working as a nanny in Chicago. It was during this time that Vivian took around 100,000 photos of the people and cityscapes around her.

What makes Vivian so special (aside from the quality of her images) is that her work remained undiscovered until local Chicago historian and collector John Maloof purchased a large collection (about 30,000) of Vivian's prints and negatives from an auction house in 2007. Since her death in 2009, some of Vivian's critically-acclaimed collection has been shown around the globe, been turned into two (soon to be three) books and she is the subject of a forthcoming documentary entitled Finding Vivian Maier.


The Brief:

This week's brief is straightforward; in the style of Vivian Maier, shoot the people and cityscapes from where you live. I want you to capture the heart and soul of your hometown. Check out the official Vivian Maier website for examples of her work.


The Technique:

You may have noticed that the subject of this challenge is Street Photography 1 - that's because Street Photography is more than just taking a photo of a random person in public (something a lot of so called street photographers do) without any thought to the light, composition, subject, timing or story behind image. There's also many different styles of street photography and I hope to cover these off in future Shooting Challenges.

For this Shooting Challenge, I want to keep things simple and not bog you down with too much info. So I want you to learn from the master of her art; go check out Vivian's work on her website ( - study the images and take whatever you can from them.

However, I will give you one piece of advice; do NOT use a zoom lens - I don't want to see images shot from across the street. It's Street Photography, not Sneak Photography. Get up close to your subject, but don't be rude and intrusive; although some 'street photographers' don't seem to have any issue with being intrusive.

If you spot a photo opportunity with a member of the general public, simply ask them if they mind you taking their photo. Talk to them, explain why you want to photo them. If they say no, simply thank them and move on. Be polite. Put yourself in their shoes.


Further Reading:

To find out more about the fantastic work of Vivian Maier, check out the following:

Official website:
Documentary trailer:


The Prize:

This week, there's a prize on offer. And a cracking prize it is too - a perfect pocket partner for any budding street photographer. This week's winning photograph will win a 12.1 MP Canon PowerShot S110 digital camera.

The PowerShot S110 packs a world of advancements into its sleek, pocket-sized body. While the camera makes it easy enough for any user to achieve beautiful image quality, it gives serious photographers the tools they need to take their creative expression to the highest level, including a 12.1 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5 Image Processor that create the exclusive Canon HS SYSTEM, and 12-bit multi aspect RAW+JPEG.

The camera features a 24mm wideangle, bright f/2.0 lens with 5x optical zoom, Wi-Fi, GPS tagging and ISO speeds all the way up to 12,800.


Important Information:

Given there's a really cool prize on offer for this Shooting Challenge, I am going to be super tough on the rules - so please read them and please stick to them. Don't come moaning to me if your image is disqualified because you failed to adhere to the rules. So, on to the rules.


The Rules:

- Submissions MUST be your own work.
- Submit up to five images
- Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
- Minimal image post-processing is allowed (global changes to levels, brightness, contrast and cropping are permitted)
- Explain, briefly in your submission email, the equipment, settings, technique used and more importantly for this challenge, the story behind the image. Please ensure EXIF info is intact (if image was taken digitally).
- Email submissions to, not me.
- Please ensure your image is at least 600px wide and less than 3MB in size.
- Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameStreet.jpg
- Don't forget to include a shooting summary (see above).
- Send your best photos by Monday, 25th March 2013 at 6pm UK time with "Shooting Challenge - Street" in the subject line.
- Anyone can enter, regardless of location.
- The most important rule -- HAVE FUN

Image credit: Cea on Flickr

This week, we're celebrating unsung heroes and the people who dared to dream big, with The Dreamers. Bookmark this page for all related stories, or contact us here with tips.