Street Photography with Mats Alfredsson

#3 - How to create presence

How to create presence: Street Photography with Mats Alfredsson

- Mats Alfredsson

Do you live in Stockholm and want to evolve within street photography? 
Take the chance to participate in an inspirational lecture followed by a photowalk on Södermalm in Stockholm together with SIGMA and street photographer Mats Alfredsson. 


To me, street photography is very much about presence. Photos where the viewer basically becomes part of the event. To make it feel like if you are there yourself, right at that moment. You can just reach out your hand to touch the subject. The very well-known street photographer Bruce Gilden described this as: "When you can smell the street, it's street photography."

But how do you get there? A good start is to choose a lens that offers a wide angle. All photos you will see in this story are photographed with SIGMA's I series 24mm F2 together with the SIGMA fp L, the world´s smallest full-frame camera with 61MP. All during a trip to Cape Verde. A fantastic street photo combination with a camera and lens that definitely will help you create a presence in your photos. Flexible, easy and discrete and an amazing technical image quality.

A wide angle often "forces" you to step closer to make the image more interesting. Challenges yourself to take that little extra step.

However, it is important to be prepared, things often happen very unexpectedly. The moment comes in a flash and disappears the same way. So make sure the camera is always on. Never wear a lens cap. Determine the ISO according to lighting conditions, I myself usually run a relatively high ISO even during the day to avoid adjusting so much (almost never below 800) and then an aperture of 8-11. With 24mm, it also means that you get a long depth of field, which means that events in the background do not disappear in the blur. What happens in both the second and third "image layer" can often be as interesting as the main motif and contribute to an exciting overall picture.

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

The photo suite in this story is taken during a three-week stay in the island kingdom of Cape Verde. The light is usually fantastic and the people live their lives in the street environment. There are a lot of markets, fish, vegetables and stuff. It allows you to get closer to people and events in a natural way. And the fact is that when you shoot quickly with a wide angle at close range, you are noticed surprisingly little.

Look for places where many people are on the move. Photograph on instinct and emotion. Learn how the equipment works and have fun. You take a photo and then continue walking before anyone understands what happened. If you feel like it, you can stop, maybe show the photo and exchange a few words. An open mind works in most countries.

The trick is to never sneak around with the camera. If you are openly showing what you are doing, the suspicion disappears. Meet people with a smile or a thumbs up and you will often get a smile back.

This type of high-presence photos are usually more exciting to look at afterwards. It opens your senses and you may even smell the street and the unique moment.

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

SIGMA 24mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with SIGMA fp L

Mats Alfredsson
Street photographer

Mats is a street photographer, based in Sweden. He travels around the world, doing what he wants; taking pictures of people. For him, street photography is discovering and documenting what others usually don´t see. Small human events in the public space, which normally go unnoticed. It is an exciting journey of the unexpected.


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