Countryside offers plenty of opportunities which you’ll miss if you’ve been photographing only the urban streets. Pack your bag, plan a trip, and get ready for rural street photography.
Honestly, I was also busy photographing city streets till I got an opportunity to visit Mekong Delta in Vietnam. I got impressed with the rustic life, simple people, hustle-free life, and wide fields. Thought, why not explore rural street more! As a result, when I travel any major city now, I look for an opportunity to pay visit to its neighborhood villages.
While most of the street photography tips would work in case of rural street shots also – but there are few extra things you need to take care of. To make the post complete – I’ll cover aspects of photography techniques, gears, preparation, execution, and post processing of rural documentary photos.
1. Plan ahead
Unlike urban streets, which you can hit anytime, rural places would need planning for travel, lodging, and food. For travel, you’d look for alternatives available – public transport or private vehicle.
I had hired private vehicle for Mekong Delta so that I travel at my pace and shoot amazing landscapes on the way to destination. If you’re making a day trip, then you don’t need to bother about lodging. Else, fid a suitable homestay or private properties by searching in Google or TripAdvisor.
You’ll worry about food if you’re traveling in a foreign country because cosmopolitan options available in major cities won’t be available in the rural areas. Again, if its day trip, pack your own snacks and water – look for a good place where you can get suitable lunch.
2. Travel light
Don’t stuff your bag with clothing, accessories, gears, and any other gadgets. You’d need to walk a lot like any other streets – so traveling light makes perfect sense.
3. Camera and Lenses
You’d mostly get picturesque landscapes, cattle, and rural tribes to shoot. So, pack a camera and two lenses – portrait and wide angle – to get rural landscape and portraits. Well, wide angle and portrait lens have plenty of options – grab what you’ve already got. A back-up battery and memory card is required because of what I’m going to suggest you next.
4. Keep Shooting
From landscapes to portraits, whatever you get to see, just keep shooting. You don’t get to see countryside every other day. Hence, you shouldn’t repent later that you’ve missed any shots. Did I tell you to pack a tripod if you can afford and it’s not adding bulk in your luggage? With help of tripod, you can shoot time-lapse and long exposure shots.
You may not get great night-life photography in rural streets because of non-availability of lights and people preferring to stay at home after sunset. So, shoot the sunset, if you can afford to stay till that time, and return to see your stunning pictures in your computer.
5. Post-processing Rural Street Photos
For me, editing means cropping to correct the composition and minor contrast/ highlights/ shadow/ white balance changes to make the picture look the way I saw with my naked eyes. Camera is mechanical/ electrical/ digital device – it may introduce some imperfections which I correct during my editing workflow.
The workflow is simple:
1. Upload one copy of the image on Adobe cloud and another copy in the hard drive.
2. Edit photos by cropping and other minor correction in Lightroom with the help of sliders.
3. Copy-paste the settings of the first such picture edited, if other photos are shot in similar light conditions.
4. Convert few street photos in black and white to neutralize the distracting colors.
Since I always return with hundreds of pictures, I can’t spend hours of editing on one photo. Plus, I’d like to document rural life as-it-is.
6. Share your Experience
Last, but not the least, don’t forget to share your experience with photography community. We’d like to learn from your experience. I had posted one such story on my Instagram about visit to my hometown. I got plenty of applauses and queries about my experience.
Rural people are very simple. They’d love to show-up in front of your camera. So, don’t mind asking them to pose or shoot their candid pictures. But don’t intrude their personal space. If your photography is not making them feel comfortable, don’t shoot. Few villagers would take it as breach of their privacy.
Conclusion Rural street photography is a great addition to your documentary photography portfolio. With a little bit of planning and understanding of nuances, you’ll help community reach rural places with help of those photos and stories.