Sometimes we tend to forget the obvious in our quest for the hidden. Here are a few ‘obvious’ tips to remember when shooting on the streets.

  • Get In close. All too often the actual ‘subject’ of a street photograph gets lost in the activity going on around… Get close to the subject, make them the primary object in your frame.
  • Be observant. Street photography is all about observing people, their actions and juxtapositions. Keep your eyes open, look for interesting connections.
  • Shoot a lot. I tend to shoot only when I’m sure that I know that I have a good shot in my frame. While this is a good practice, it can lead to missed opportunities. Shoot more frequently than you expect to shoot and weed out the boring shots when you download your pictures.
  • Don’t worry about the light too much. Concentrate on the people, your composition and your safety. Today’s cameras do a great job of metering a scene well. Use their readouts. Maybe even shoot in auto exposure mode.
  • Use a ‘normal’ sized camera. I’ve had a lot of people balk when I pick up my Canon EOS 5D with its 24-70mm lens and flash. They go into “hide” mode; feeling shy and possibly even worried. This is one of the reasons why I’ve moved down to a ‘toy’ like camera.
  • Use a Wide Angle lens. Being a participant brings you closer to your intended subjects. It can bring you right into the midst of the action. Keep a wide angle zoom or prime lens handy for these occasions.
  • Participate. Some of the best street photographs I’ve seen are those of people who are fully aware of the photographer. You’re more likely to get a memorable photograph when you’re part of the scene and reacting to the emotions and drama that is being acted out around you.
  • Know when to shoot candids. Candid photography on the street is one of its charms. Use the right equipment – long lenses, nondescript clothing and casual attitude – and you could get some gems.
  • Dress Normally. Gearing out like a “photographer” could lead to some hostility. Dress normally, keep your camera bag small and inconspicuous.
  • Worry about your camera at home. Concentrate on the street when you’re shooting. I prefer to choose my equipment carefully before leaving for a street shoot and not worry about what I “could have got” with some other equipment. When you’re on the street, make sure that you involve yourself in the scene as much as possible. Street photographs don’t need high-quality equipment to bring out the right emotion. Its all about the moment. Keep it that way, and you’ll find yourself reacting to the right elements; People – not your equipment.
  • Know how your equipment works. Street photography is very spontaneous and a moments fumble with the controls can leave you wishing you were quicker with your equipment.
  • Carry your camera inconspicuously, but not suspiciously. This will give you opportunities in street photography that you would not expect. Be casual about the camera and keep it away from your face as far as possible. Try to avoid looking like a “photographer.” As a side effect, trying to hide your camera and sneaking a photograph in when possible may make you look suspicious. Like I said, be casual about the camera.

Obviously, one can go on and on about street photography tips. If you think that there are some more obvious tips that I’ve missed out, do leave them in the comments.

I’ll leave you with some interesting links on Street Photography

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About The Author

Susheel Chandradhas

Susheel Chandradhas is a Photographer and Web Designer. His passions include photography and parkour. He is also the webmaster of Beyond Phototips.

27 Responses to Obvious Street Photography Tips

  1. [...] Go to the author’s original blog: Obvious Street Photography Tips [...]

  2. Obvious Street Photography Tips…

    A great set of short tips for street photography including tips for equipment choices….

  3. Personally I’ve always been impressed with Chris Weeks’ pdf about Street Photography. It covers a lot of what you’ve listed, but it’s pretty blunt in the same way that street photography tends to be.

    So if you enjoyed the above post (like me – it makes me want to get back to the street!) then I highly recommend Chris’ publication. I have no affiliation with him apart from being a fan.

    http://cweeks.deviantart.com/art/Street-Photography-38038974

  4. Bryan says:

    These are good tips, despite being “obvious” as you say. Sometimes we all need a reminder of the fundamentals. Like the above commenter said, this makes me want to grab my camera and head out to the streets!

  5. @the_wolf_brigade: Thanks for the link: Adding it to the list of links in the post. I’m glad that it makes you want to go out and take photographs… That’s what cameras were made for :)

  6. @Susheel Chandradhas: This is true about cameras, though time is a limiting factor. I just got my Zero Image 69 Deluxe in the mail but I won’t have time for it for at least a few weeks ;(

  7. @the_wolf_brigade: Time… Now that’s something that I have a deficit of…

    The Zero Image 69 Deluxe Looks like a real piece of work… I’m sure you’ll have fun.

  8. [...] Beyond PhotoTips has some Obvious Street Photography Tips [...]

  9. [...] Obvious Street Photography Tips Beyond PhotoTips A great set of short tips for street photography including tips for equipment choices. [...]

  10. matt haines says:

    Good tips. Although I don’t understand this whole “download your images” thing. Is one even allowed to do street photography with a digital camera?? I thought that violated every known street photography principle there is! :)

    But seriously, digital has some drawbacks. Your choices are either a point-n-shoot, which will take so long to take the shot that your subjects will have walked away, or a dSLR, with that giant flapping noise made by the mirror. Hardly inconspicuous.

    While Chris Weeks might be over the top with his Leica-only attitude, I must admit having a rangefinder camera with a quiet shutter is very comforting. Just a little tick and you’ve taken the picture.

    One day I’ll take my Yashica-Mat out for some street photography. The looking-down-into-the-viewfinder aspect of a twin-lens reflex is a foreign concept to most people these days. Which means I can compose in plain view, and people will think I’m taking pictures of my shoes. My wife actually accused me of doing that once!

  11. @ Matt Haines: Street Photography without digital? Aaargh! I’m sure I’d die before I gave up my digital camera today! Think of all the rolls film I’d lay to waste…

    It is possible that I’ve taken “digital photography” for granted these days… It is becoming rather pervasive in an annoying way (for some people … for me, its just pure joy!). But isn’t that what’s making photography so accessible to everyone?

    As for “Leica Only” fanatics (they aren’t very unlike the Nikon Only, or Canon Only, or even the Hasselblad Only fanatics)… they can get annoying too…

    I believe in the “right equipment for the right job” motto, and while range-finders are certainly part of the street photographer’s kit, they’re certainly not all-encompassing. Their use depends on your style of street photography.

    As for TLRs :D lets see some impressive photographs of your shoes sometime soon! I’ll be watching your website…

    Cheers!

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  19. simonsawsunlight says:

    I’d really have some objections here and there, but there’s still some useful advise for beginning streeters =)

  20. I’d love to hear those objections, and your own thoughts… That’s what we’re here for, aren’t we? :D

  21. hi its so useful and helpful. i like it. thanks for sharing such tips.

  22. Amit says:

    hey thanx for the amazing tips..its vry helpful..i have one more point to include in street photography its capturing portraits and creating a story out a pic..creating a story to the street portrait will grab you viewers attention..

  23. Bevan says:

    Just a quick tip which I find helps “hide” a camera a little more than usual
    is to wear a top/jacket the same color as the camera. Black camera/ black camera strap/ black top or jacket etc

  24. [...] Obvious Street Photography Tips [...]

  25. [...] Beyond Phototips:Obvious Street Photography Tips Some pretty normal tips about street photography; and a useful set of links at the bottom of the page. [...]

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