Photography / Tips and techniques

Getting started with street photography

Young boy on a cycle

This picture was taken from a moving car using my iPhone - of course, I wasn't driving!

Street photography is essentially the act of taking photos of public places, events and people as they appear in their natural state. Natural state means that the photographs are not staged, are taken on the spur of the moment and without any prompting from the photographer. In a way, it is the most exciting forms of photography, because you don’t really have to go hunting for scenes to capture. It can also be very intimidating, though, because you are essentially photographing strangers. But if you can get over that fear, it is one of the easiest types of photography to practice and an excellent way to develop your photography skills as the opportunities for taking photographs are…limitless.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Be fearless: You need to be brave to click pictures of strangers around you. You could hide behind a zoom lens until you build up your courage, though there is a school of thought that believes it is a voyeuristic way to take pictures. However, once you get comfortable, you can get closer to your subject. You could also try to take candid pictures of your friends and family – once you’re able to click them discreetly, you’re ready to make the whole world your subject!

Blend in: Think tourist spots. Most people are likely to have cameras in these places, so you’ll be able to blend into the scene.

Set up the stage: Just because street photography is candid, doesn’t mean you can’t set up a stage. Park yourself at a particular location (like a park bench) and wait for someone to walk into the frame. Most times, it will look as though you’re taking a photograph of the background and people won’t even realize that they’re in the shot!

Be inconspicuous: If you carry a huge DSLR fitted with a big lens, chances are that most people will know exactly when they’re in the frame. Try using a nifty 50, a point and shoot, or even your camera phone!

Ask and be respectful: When in doubt, it’s best to ask. If someone objects, just walk away – they’re lots of other opportunities out there!

If you’d like more tips to hone your craft, head over to French website Nikon Passion, which has three free eBooks about street photography – in English. Two of the PDFs are by Thomas Leuthard, a Swiss photographer, the third is by Mexico-based Alex Coghe.

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3 thoughts on “Getting started with street photography

  1. Pingback: Four Ways to Get Photography Subjects to Say Yes | Brooklyn NYC photography blog

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