You see, street portraits are very unique both in style and process, to the rest of street photography. Yes, much of the information, like having a simple background, or utilizing natural light will still apply. But perhaps the most significant difference between photographing a space, and a portrait, is your level of preparation.
When photographing a space, you can spend 10, 20, 30 minutes, or even an hour prepping for a shot, before it even happens. But with a portrait, your one and only job is to watch the subject, and strike when you see a moment. There are things you can study to improve your portraiture, but at the heart of the street portrait is a trained gut instinct.
That being said, even if you have that trained instinct, there are still a few things you’ll want to keep in mind so as to improve your portraiture…
Keep it simple
I’ve mentioned this idea on many occasions, but it’s especially important here that you keep the shot simple. When it comes to portraiture, you want nothing to distract from the subject. This is why you want to find a simple background like a wall, and some simple lighting, like shade.
However, this doesn’t mean that your shot can’t be interesting. Some photographers like to play around with the sunlight a little, or get a shot of someone with a spot of sunlight on their face. Or maybe there’s a tiny bit of abstraction in the background. Or perhaps the light is actually reflecting off the ground, like in this shot.
Simple doesn’t mean boring, or that you need the exact same setup every time. Just make sure that whatever your setup is, it’s not going to distract from the subject.