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Street Photography — 10 Tips On How To Shoot Excellent Photographs On The Street

Street photography is all about capturing the activities happening on the streets, ranging from the rushing crowd of people to busily running trams and cars. It is about capturing something that everyone goes through in their daily lives but still fail to observe the unique aspect of it. Street photography offers a lot of opportunities and scenes to photograph. Its not only about photographing the portraits and presenting the daily life of people as documentation. It is a further more enhanced form of photography which includes capturing the activities happening by the roadside, street concerts, traffic signals, billboards, hoardings, fences, trees, children having fun in a park and all. That’s street photography, holding the camera in the hand and eagerly waiting for the moment to click. Here are 10 tips to help you make the most from photographing the busy street life.

  1. Keen Observation Is Key To Street Photography

    Street photography is full of fun. While walking down the street you will come across a variety of acts, gestures, scenes, expressions, subjects, etc. It is a whole lot of crowd there, engaged in their own world, ready for some superb candid poses. Look at the old man sitting on the bench, a father eager to buy a birthday present to his 4 year old son or cheers of fall of winter in nature. All the instances qualify to be the subject of street photography; for which one needs an artist’s eye to carefully portray the expression of the old man, happiness of the father and spirit of the nature.

  2. Be Ready With Your Camera

    The biggest challenge with street photography (or any other form of photography) is that the instances don’t repeat themselves. Just be prepared with the camera and press the shutter as soon as you spot an interesting subject or scene. Being at the right place is one side of the coin, but holding the camera in hand and releasing the shutter at right time is what makes the difference. You need to act spontaneously to photograph a child feeding the monkey at zoo. Also, consider carrying a compact camera, which helps you easily photograph the people without making them conscious of the fact that they are being photographed.

    Little Girl Thinks About Elephants

    Little Girl Thinks About Elephants by Bill Gracey

  3. Make The Most From Available Light

    Lights play an important role in photography. It is the interplay of lights that help in getting vivid colors in your photographs. The best time for shooting outdoors is in magic hour, recognized as glorious lights by Ken Rockwell when the natural lights cast magical spell over the subject and glorifies the entire scene. Along with the magic light, using the street lights and artificial lights at twilight fill the frame with beautiful and lively colors; resulting in great photographs.

  4. Choose Interesting Subjects For Captivating Street Photographs

    Street life has nothing special about it. Everyone pass by the same passage and path daily, but they tend to overlook the unique happenings taking place in the vicinity. For instance, the passerby may overlook the tree that refused to believe it was winter, but the same tree was photographed by an artist to communicate and put forth his reaction to the scene. Separating apart and portraying such interesting subjects in your photographs ultimately draws the viewers attention into your creative piece of art.

    Urban Lovers

    Urban Lovers by Gianni Dominici

  5. Use Background Efficiently

    Streets are full of crowd, of people, buses, cars… rushing to their destination. Photographing the subject with ongoing background activities can either clutter-up the scene or may provide a context to the street story. You have to judiciously decide how to make the most of the background. If the tends to distract the viewer, its better to blur the background.

  6. Freeze The Scene [The Street Activities]

    A lot of activities happen on the streets. There are pedestrians crossing the road, the cyclists and bikers racing their bikes and children walking down the street with their pets. Its time to freeze the motion and movement in the scene and present the unusually posed subjects. Go a bit slower on the shutter speed or try your hands on panning to generate the interesting results.

  7. Using DOF To Your Advantage

    Depth of field aesthetically compliments the subject and helps in distinguishing the subject from the rest of crowd. Practicing the DOF when photographing the portraits turn out into interesting photographs. I remember this example from the Enzo Dal Verme’s book titled “How To Shoot A Reportage“, where he cites that focusing only one person from the group and blurring the rest of the crowd or framing the subject out of focus makes the photograph interesting.

    I Guess I Shouldn't Have Done That

    I Guess I Shouldn’t Have Done That

  8. Street Photography Etiquette

    Street photography is not a license to sneak-peak into the lives of the people. Photographing the candid poses of people is fine, but be generous & friendly with people and ask for the permission before taking the photographs; especially when shooting for commercial purposes. Photographing stealthily may run you into troubles. Be on the safer side. As far as possible, ask for the permission before photographing the people.

  9. Photograph A Concept

    Street photography can also serve the purpose of framing the conceptual stories. Streets are a hub of several activities; poor and homeless lying down on the streets, children starving to death in slums, unclean localities, growing pollution, water scarcity… Photograph such scenes to arise awareness in society and address the social issues. As is said “A picture is worth a thousand words “, a photograph of such scenes, effectively delivers the message.


    Generations by Andrea Costa Photography

  10. Know What Not To Photograph

    It is always better to know the limitations; as to what to photograph and what not. Before going around the streets of an unknown city, gather appropriate information about the laws and the mentality of people. Also, photographing the dull and boring subjects don’t make any sense. Instead of wasting the time and effort at photographing the same old structures shot by everyone, walk down the street to find something unusual and interesting.

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1 comment… add one
  • John Jun 8, 2011 @ 21:49

    While not a beginner, I am far from the talented photographers whose images I admire. I dreaded the loss of Kodak infrared because it was the one thing I did well. While I converted My Fuji S3 Pro to infrared, lack of diligence and the pink tint conspired to idle my efforts. I live in Costa Rica and want to travel in the region. I am currently using a D300, 18-200, 12-24 (Tokina), 50mm 1.4, 70-180 which I just had rebuilt, 70-200 2.8 VR, and a few others. I am eager to increase my quality and minimize my load so as not to attract too much attention as I travel. I am thinking of selling most of my stuff and bitting the bullet for a D3S, 24-70, and a 28-300.. Although I have an infrared show scheduled to hang in the capital in January, I have no idea how to makew money. I have Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom # but remain ignorant. Maybe getting rid of the girlfriend will help. I have a lightweight Feisol folding tripod with a Markins B-10 ball head and RRS quick release and plates Any suggestions? Love your stuff and want to do HDR.

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