Capturing graffiti, like street photography as a genre – requires attention to personal safety. Situational and special awareness will help you identify any perceived or real risks.
Plan a route
Online searches, forums and social media accounts will help you to identify hot spots or street art hubs for a particular suburb or city. You may even find a self-guided street art walking tour of the city.
Once you find a location, check out photos shared by other photographers. Pay particular attention to the quality of the work and the practicality of the location. When you arrive, there may be a surprisingly different piece. My favourite location Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia, is totally different each time I return.
Time of day
How light reflects off the surface of the artwork – can really make or break an image. Dusk and dawn are referred to, as the golden hours because of the warm orange colour cast. This is aesthetically pleasing for landscapes – however, can affect the colours in the graffiti. In most circumstances, my preference is to shoot on a cloudy day, when the lighting is softly diffused by the clouds.
Some locations may have an awning or some other object casting a shadow over the piece. A great way to remotely determine the direction of the sun (or the moon) at any given location is to use an app called Photo Pills.
The weather can affect not only your comfort out there in the elements – but it can also affect your image. A sunny day can produce harsh shadows on the wall and wash out the colours, having less impact.
The lighting in any image helps to convey a mood. Matching the lighting to the mood of the artwork can really help emphasise the feeling in the original artist's intention. A dark, overcast day can add to a dramatic, grungy look. Conversely, a bright, sunny day evokes a happy, more uplifting emotional response.
After the rain, the walls can look very different. You will have noticed that everything looks better after rain – it looks fresher. The wet look can darken the colours and make them look more vibrant and saturated and smoother.
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