This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
302. Second, the camera should attract as little attention as possible. The box, magazine, film, or pocket type of camera has a decided advantage over the combination hand or tripod bellows camera, because the latter is more elaborate and attracts undue attention.
303. Third, a large view finder is preferable, as upon it must be arranged all the composition of the picture. In the constant shifting and changing of the figures in a street, people readily fall into groups that are naturally pleasing and conform to the fundamental rules of composition. The finder should be large enough to permit these picturesque groups to be readily recognized - given their proper position upon the plate - so that the exposure may be made at the right moment. If it is not possible to have a large view finder and you are using the box type of camera, lines may be drawn from the two front corners on the top to the center of the back of the camera. By forming a V along these two lines, carrying them into the picture space, you will be able to ascertain the boundaries of the angle of view. All objects situated within these boundaries will appear on the ground-glass, or be reproduced on the negative. Many cameras of the box type have these two lines already drawn on them for this particular purpose.
Exact Moment For Making The Exposure. The exact moment for making the exposure is often quite difficult to determine. If not watched for with extreme care the result may be spoiled by the sudden intrusion into the picture of some unlooked for object. The reflex type of cameras are excellent for this class of work. It is absolutely necessary that you remain perfectly cool when releasing the shutter. You must not fumble at the slide in the plate holder or at the focusing pinion. Be in readiness for instant exposure; the best things last but a second and are gone, and it is the quick and alert photographer who secures them.
305. Take care that the persons included in your view are not looking towards the camera with their mouths open; and remember that at almost any moment something is very likely to come up that will ruin the pictorial qualities of a street photograph.
Strategem. It is policy, sometimes, to steal upon your subject unawares, that the figures in the scene may be taken in natural position, not staring at the camera or adopting attitudes that will not carry out the idea you wish to convey. True, this is not an easy thing to accomplish, but by the aid of a little strategem you will meet with success. For instance, you might pretend to be taking a view in the opposite direction and draw the crowd of undesirables back of the camera; then, wheeling around, quickly expose on the real scene before those in it are aware of what has happened.
Lighting. Be careful about the lighting. A strong light on one side and dark shadow on the other is a common occurrence when the brilliant sunshine strikes the street at certain times of the day. One part of the thoroughfare is flooded with intense light and the other is almost black in shadow. The finest effects will be secured on dull days, on foggy days, and on wet days; although, the strong sunshine is what tempts the average photographer out of doors. On wet days the streets are most picturesque, for that which is unsightly to the eye in sunlight is then hidden in shade and fog. Carriages present a very effective appearance as they loom large and mysterious out of the mist. (See Study No. 17, "The Man on the Box," by Dr. A. R. Benedict.)
STREET IN OLD JAPAN Study No. 16 - See Page 308 By Wm. II. Phillips.
"THE MAN ON THE BOX" Study No. 17 - See Page 310 By Dr. A. R. Benedict
308. Remember that these things are not taken by the photographer who ventures out but seldom with his camera. They are the reward of the person who is constantly on the watch, who has had many failures, and who has learned that the best things in photography are not the outcome of luck, snap-shots, nor the result of accidental association of events, but the returns of painstaking labor and hard experience.
310. For another subject select some general landscape view that is extremely simple, and make an exposure. Then take this same subject and introduce something of interest in the foreground and secure the very best rendering possible, carrying out the instruction which has preceded, regarding the "composition of foreground." The subject for "Street Photography" will depend upon existing circumstances; but you should try to carry out the preceding instruction in obtaining subject material. Even though the first attempt is not satisfactory be guided by the results.
311. Make good proof prints from each experiment; make your notations on the back, and file them in your proof file for future guidance.