Tips for Aspiring Street Photographers
- Get in close. The closer you get, the more emotion you get in the shot, and the more invested viewers will be in the image.
- Find interesting angles. Not every street photo needs to be from a traditional eye level, nor should they all be traditional compositions, as shown above.
- Be respectful. Photographing a lover's quarrel or a downtrodden person on the street isn't always advised.
- Practice a lot. Like any kind of photography, street photography requires that you simply get out there and do it!
Image Credit: Tomas Hliva via iStock
If you ask me, street photography is one of the most intimidating types of photography, given the fact that you're photographing perfect strangers on the street.
It takes a lot of gumption to be able to do that (and a lot of practice as well), but the rewards can be fantastic.
In this quick-start guide, I offer up a few tips I've learned about becoming a better street photographer.
A Smile Goes a Long Way
Image Credit: PeopleImages via iStock
Whether you're cruising main street in your hometown or you're in a foreign country on the other side of the world, put a smile on your face as you walk around, and you'll be surprised how much that does to quell any fears people have about you taking their photo.
Not only does it make you more friendly and approachable, but it also helps others to see that you aren't doing something nefarious.
Besides, if you smile, people will often smile back, and that makes for a great street portrait!
If your smile is met with distrust, don't just keep shooting. Ask politely if you can take the person's picture, and if they want nothing of it, move on.
But in my experience, nine out of 10 times, a simple smile will get you "in the door" to take a photo.
Street Photography Tips: Tell a Story
Image Credit: Pyrosky via iStock
Taking compelling photos on the street requires that you find a way to tell a story about the person you're photographing - a person you have mere seconds to capture and who you'll likely never see again, by the way.
It's a tall task, but if you can master it, you'll have much better photos on your hands.
The trick to telling a story is setting the stage for the story and allowing people to enter the scene you've set.
That means that you need to determine things like the mood you want for the shot, the setting, and the background to create the vibe you want.
Then, it's just a matter of waiting it out, and allowing people to become part of the story.
This approach is contradictory to what many street photographers do, which is to wander the streets and take photos as they go.
But setting up shop in one spot and having the people come to you can get you even better results. It requires a lot of patience though!
You Need Small, Lightweight Gear for Street Photography
Aside from the fact that street photography involves many hours walking around, thus necessitating a small, lightweight kit, it also requires you to be highly mobile and have the ability to move around in streets that could be incredibly crowded.
That means carrying a huge full frame DSLR with a 70-200mm lens is probably not the best choice.
Of course, gear is often a personal preference, so do what works for you.
But for me personally, I prefer a small mirrorless body like my Sony a6300 and a 35mm lens.
You also need to take care when selecting the camera strap you use.
Obviously you want something that provides the safety and security needed to protect your camera and lens, but you also don't want something that's cumbersome and difficult to work with.
I recently discovered a camera strap by Hyperion that fits the bill for street photography perfectly.
The thick cordage used to make the strap is incredibly durable and strong. It honestly feels like I could throw it over a tree branch and pull myself up with it (though I haven't tried that...).
It's surprisingly comfortable, too.
Initially, I was concerned that the rounded cord would dig into my shoulder, but that's just not the case. I can carry my camera for hours and hours exploring the city without feeling any sort of shoulder fatigue.
I opted for the long shoulder strap version of the Hyperion strap, but they also make short shoulder straps as well as hand straps (like the one shown above) if that's more your style.
Speaking of style, Hyperion custom makes your strap to your specifications, so you can choose the colors you want and get a strap that fits your photography vibe.
They even have leather strap options if you want something with an extra touch of class.
These straps look really, really good, too. In fact, I've had people on the street approach me to ask where I got my strap!
Best of all, Hyperion understands that not everyone can afford an expensive camera strap, which is why their straps are all under $30. Talk about a deal!
If you missed it, be sure to check out my complete review of my Hyperion camera strap here and watch my review video above.
Street Photography Techniques
Image Credit: micheldenijs via iStock
There's a few other things you can do to get better street photography results:
With the tips outlined earlier and the quick overview of street photography techniques above, you should be in a better position to have a successful street photography outing!