How do I take better Street Photographs?


With cameras now appearing in phones and tablets and the rise of photo sharing platforms such as 500px and Instagram photography, especially Street Photography has never been so popular. In this article we will look at how to take your street photography to a new level in order to blow your friends and followers away.

First thing, first lets look at equipment. In short there is no simple answer to which equipment is best. So lets say that the quick answer is, the best camera is the one that you have with you at that time when you need it most, as its better to have captured the image than not at all. That said, if you really want to take your street photography to a new level it could be worth investing in some specialist equipment.

At the present time, the go to Street Photography cameras are either high end point (and shoot cameras such as the Canon Powershot range) or Mirrorless Cameras such as the Nikon V1 range. For simply amazing photographs and if you have money to burn then Leica cameras are the must have but be prepared to pay for the privilege as they are not cheap. The one thing that all of these cameras share is a compact size.

With street photography being discreet is often a must, so to have a large DSLR camera and lens will generally work against you, in your pursuit of good street photographs. This is also why Smartphones work so well as they are discreet and innocuous. If you want to go old school though, nothing beats a well composed and developed image using black and white film. It is still the classic way to photograph street images and has seen a revival in popularity in recent times due to the growing popularity of Street Photography.

With regards to taking great Street Photographs you need to work on your understanding of light. To photographers, light is everything and this is never truer when taking street photographs as it is often the only creative variable that you have to work with. So the best street photographers use natural light to make their images really stand out.

A great way to start to understand light is to hold out your hand and notice which side is in shadow and which side is in the light. Then turn your hand and body and notice the differences. This simple exercise done regularly will help you notice where light is falling and where the shadows are. Once you have done this a few times you can start to take the exercise one step farther and notice light and shadows on objects when you walk and drive around. By developing this skill your eyes will become accustomed to seeing and understanding contrast and all good street photography consists of contrast.

Your next step would be to start looking for geometric patterns. Does a building have repetitive shapes? Are the windows inline or are they open? Does the paving have an interesting pattern to it? Are there any lines such as hand rails that are able to lead the view to your subject? Are there any reflections that can be used such as puddles or glass/mirrors around? All of these elements can add interest to your images and put you above 95% of all other Street Photographers.

Stand still and be patient. Contrary to popular belief walking around endlessly will generally not get you good Street Photographs. The secret is to find a spot that interests you such as a gap in a wall and wait patiently until something happens. This could be somebody walking past it and a nice shadow being created. It could be an elderly couple sharing a tender moment on a park bench when nobody else is looking. It could even be laughter of a group of friends sat at a Caf table. The main thing is to be patient, sit and wait for that magical moment to happen, it will eventually!

With regards to editing software this can come in two forms. If you are using your phone or tablet then Google's Snapseed app is currently the best in the business by a long way. It's cheap, versatile and easy to use. If you are looking for more traditional forms of cameras, then Adobes' Lightroom is the standard, go to editing software, as its easy to use and very powerful.

Finally we must touch on ethics. Street Photography can be an emotive subject so please be aware of other's privacy and local customs. Taking photos of young children or women without their consent is often not a good idea and can lead to potential issues ranging from an unhappy person at best to the Police being called at worst. It is therefore advisable to ask first, and photograph second. It is also generally a good idea to offer to e-mail or send a copy of the image to the person. This simple gesture along with respecting your subjects privacy will go a long way to you and other Street Photographers getting the images that you want.

Good luck and happy snapping!

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice