11 Tips to Street Photography

Photo by Li Lin on Unsplash

Street Photography is probably one of the most challenging but at the same time one of the most rewarding genres of photography. For photographers, this isn’t an easy task, documenting people in their everyday environment is challenging. It’s necessary to see what it isn’t seen by most people; the photographer is almost required to wear different type of eyes every time, in a sense.

This is photography with action: even if the photographer is standing still the world around him is not, it changes with every person that comes and goes. The scenery is always changing, people move on different speeds, each and every one moves in a different way…

Photo by Arthur Edelman on Unsplash

To capture The Photo, the photographer needs to be attentive, to have patience, work hard and sometimes some bravery is required, to be able to approach and photograph complete strangers (that sometimes aren’t that happy about being photographed).

Photo by Haley Lawrence on Unsplash

“A good street photo needs a clearly defined subject. All the rules (and I use that word loosely) of composition, such as rule of thirds, leading lines, use of negative space, symmetry, frames, etc. still hold. Try and tell a story with your images. Create photographs where the viewer pauses and asks questions.”

Elizabeth Gray, in Photography Life.

Photo by daniel james on Unsplash

Be reminded that “Street Photography” doesn’t really need people, even if most people tend to link this genre of photography to images of life in public areas. Also, you can do Street Photography, everywhere, anywhere.

But then again,

Street Photography doesn’t need people.

The photographer can be creative and resort to capture other subjects — a glove lost in the middle of the street for example. Some even use shadows to capture thought-provoking shots, even if you can’t see the humans casting them.

Photo by Serhat Beyazkaya on Unsplash

If you’re interested in this little part of the huge world that is Photography, here’s some tips:

1. Use a small camera, for street photography less is more. The more invisible you are the easier it is. Big cameras are heavy (and after a whole day of carrying it gets even heavier) and more difficult to hide when needed to.

2. Try lenses that reflect your eye. Like every type of photography choosing your material is important. In this genre of photography deciding the distance you’re from your subject is important, also how you want your scenery around your subject to be. This distance will possibly give you the answer of which lenses you should use.

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3. Don’t forget colour. Street Photography doesn’t have to black and white, even if most people seem to think like that it is.

4. Mix with people. It’s incredible how people don’t notice each other on the streets, this way it’s important to not be noticeable (that’s why it’s important to have a smaller camera, especially if you want to disappear in the mix of people).

5. Wait for it. Don’t be rushed to photograph like that at this time, take your time. Some photographers, even spend days and days scouting for places and that perfect light and then a few more days until they get THE photo.

Photo by Ern Gan on Unsplash

6. Capture and repeat. Like everything you need to practice to get better. Your skill will get better if you don’t give up and keep trying.

7. Search for shapes. Looking for shapes to be on your background is always rewarding. Your background should be as important as your subject, if not more. You should look for geometry in your background and position yourself so that your subject as space to “model”. It’s not always easy, but it’s rewarding in the end.

Photo by David Kristofer on Unsplash

8. Use a camera you’re used to. It’s important to get yourself familiarized to your camera before going on the streets. Other little tip is to use the mode Av/A, that gives priority to the lens’s aperture.

9. Give the light attention. Without light photography isn’t possible, and in Street Photography this element is crucial. The way the photographer captures the light is going to impact how the image gets read by its audience.

10. Use different angles. Don’t stay stuck on the eye-level approach, try different angles and have fun. Photograph from below, from above, see how the line of the buildings change when you move the camera.

Photo by Martino Pietropoli on Unsplash

11. Get close but be respectful, ask permission. Even if most people believe Street Photography should be spontaneous, we think that there’s isn’t a reason on to why not ask if someone is okay being photographed. Just be prepared for different answers, not everyone will be okay with having his/hers photography taken. Smile and be nice, you’re not doing anything wrong.

“Street photography is a beautiful, spontaneous art form. It requires patience and a lot of luck to get good and meaningful shots. But its unpredictability is what makes it appealing and rewarding. Like any creative field, street photography has some time-tested criteria, but remember: rules are meant to be broken. Once you understand the heart of street photography, you can unleash your creativity to make street photography your own.”

Imrad Zahid, in Expert Photography.

Now that you have been introduced to Street Photography how do you feel about this photography genre?

If you’re still confused or need some more basic information, you can check this article, where we guide you take your first steps in the photography world.

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