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10 Tips for Successful Street Photography

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10 Tips for Successful Street
Photography
The essence of street photography is about documenting everyday life and society...
It’s a genre of photography usually done candidly without permission and without your
subject’s knowledge. However, street...
Deciding which lens to use is one of the most important factors for street photography.
You may be tempted to use a teleph...
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10 Tips for Successful Street Photography

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The essence of street photography is about documenting everyday life and society on the streets. You can find opportunities to practice street photography everywhere and you don’t necessarily need to travel to capture great shots.

The essence of street photography is about documenting everyday life and society on the streets. You can find opportunities to practice street photography everywhere and you don’t necessarily need to travel to capture great shots.

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10 Tips for Successful Street Photography

  1. 1. 10 Tips for Successful Street Photography The essence of street photography is about documenting everyday life and society on the streets. You can find opportunities to practice street photography everywhere and you don’t necessarily need to travel to capture great shots. DEC 22, 2015 DREW HOPPER 48 COMMENTSTweetShare 303 News Equipment Tutorials Archives Send a Tip Links 500 K 1 M
  2. 2. It’s a genre of photography usually done candidly without permission and without your subject’s knowledge. However, street photography doesn’t rule out staged pictures. You may spot an interesting character that catches your vision; you can wander up to strangers and ask for permission to take their picture. This is a great way to get a more intimate portrait of someone in his or her environment. The most important thing with street photography is to have fun and enjoy getting out with your camera. Remember, your goal is to capture emotion, humanity, and depict a person’s character. It takes time to get your shot, but with some practice and patience it is rewarding. #1: Choosing the best lens
  3. 3. Deciding which lens to use is one of the most important factors for street photography. You may be tempted to use a telephoto lens, but that’s more than likely to result in more harm than good. You don’t want to be that creepy person standing across the road aiming a giant lens at strangers. If you want to look inconspicuous you’re going to need to get up close and among the action. Use a wide-angle lens and get lost in a busy crowd. Many street photographers choose a compact camera that’s less confronting than a large DSLR, the advantages being smaller, lightweight, and discreet. #2: Camera settings The quickest and easiest way to set up your camera for street photography is by switching the camera to AV (aperture-priority mode) and selecting your f-stop (aperture) and ISO manually. The camera will then decide the shutter speed (exposure). On a bright sunny day a good place to start is around f/16 with an ISO between 200-400. If your camera displays a shutter speed higher than 1/200th a second you are ready to roll.
  4. 4. Take note of the shutter speed your camera is reading and make adjustments to aperture and ISO accordingly. If your camera is giving you a shutter speed that is below 1/80th you run the risk of a blurred shot, but that could be used for good effect too. To overcome blur simply increase your ISO and/or choose a wider aperture. If you’re new to photography you can always set camera to P mode (program or auto) and let the camera select the correct settings. You can still adjust the EV if you want to over or under expose the shot to your liking. This is useful if you are shooting run and gun (in a hurry with no time to think), but you have little control over what the camera is doing, so this isn’t always the best option. Program mode does a pretty decent job, but I wouldn’t rely on it in low light where there’s a high possibility your shutter speed will be too slow to freeze the action. #3: Get close to your subjects Using a wide-angle lens enables you to get nice and close to your subjects. The advantage of the wide angle gives the viewer a sense of being there in the moment. You’ll also blend in with the crowd as part of the environment, rather than standing out across the street with a long lens.
  5. 5. Many successful street photos were taken only few meters from the action and sometimes only centimeters away. Walking through a busy street, market or park can result in some rewarding pictures if you are observant and keep your eyes open for interesting subjects. If your images aren’t how you visualized them, then you may need to get closer, so use your feet as your zoom to be sure you’re in the right place at the right time. #4: Take your camera everywhere Street photography is spontaneous and waits for no one. It’s a discipline you must practice to make perfect. Your camera is an extension of yourself — it’s your gateway to sharing your vision with the world and you don’t want to miss an amazing photo opportunity by not having your camera on you. If you’re serious about street photography, you will have your camera within reach at all times. This is known as the ‘decisive moment,’ where you have only a split second to capture your subject before it’s gone forever. You rarely get a second chance, so be prepared.
  6. 6. #5: Ignore the voice in your mind Some people struggle with the idea of street photography. Some concerns may be the fear about your subjects getting angry because you took their picture, threaten you with physical violence, or even worse, call the police. Fear is simply false evidence appearing real. These are all common fears, but it’s possible to overcome by practicing and getting out more with your camera. Here are some suggestions to overcome your concerns. Find an interesting spot to sit with your camera. I spend a lot of time at cafes and restaurants when I travel, my camera ready for any opportunities. Observing from a comfortable setting you’ll feel at ease and can wait for pictures to come to you. You are less likely to be noticed sitting outside a café with your camera than standing in the middle of the street. Tune out and listen to your iPod while you are out walking with your camera. Music is somewhat of a distraction that can help relax and inspire creativity. It may not sound logical, but it works wonders, and if it means you’re comfortable in your surrounds then it’s worth a shot. (I don’t suggest doing this at night, in uncrowded or unfamiliar places! Always be aware of your surroundings.)
  7. 7. #6: Shoot from the hip As a general rule of street photography, if you can get the shot with the camera to your eye, you will get a better shot. However, there are times when it’s not possible to raise the camera to your eye, and so shooting from the hip is a useful method of capturing a decisive moment. When I first started shooting on the street I found it difficult holding my camera to my eye and pointing it towards strangers, so I started holding the camera by my hip to capture more candid pictures. At first I wasn’t successful, but the more familiar I became with my camera and the focal length I managed to capture some great candid moments. #7: Shoot at night Night photography in the city is a great opportunity for unique images. It’s not as easy as shooting during the day; you will need to be mindful of low shutters speeds to avoid blur and use your ISO and aperture to compensate for low light. Take a tripod with you if you plan on doing long exposures. Alternatively, using a fast aperture lens will enable you to shoot low-light scenes and still freeze the action. When shooting at night try finding interesting lines, shadows and compositions to give the image a bold visual statement. Silhouetted subjects are interesting and can create nice compositions with the shadow filling the foreground. #8: Think outside the box Powerful ideas and emotions can be portrayed through the simplest of scenes. Most people wrongly associate street photography with people or portraits on the street. You don’t always need people in frame, or capturing interesting juxtapositions or fitting as many different people or objects into frame. It may be difficult in some busy places, but take a walk down a quiet alleyway or side street and look for different subjects that interest you. There are infinite opportunities for all kinds of images with or without people.
  8. 8. While in Vietnam, I spent time wandering the streets photographing bicycles, which I have turned into a small series titled ‘Transportation’, that has been quite popular among the photo community. This was unintentional, but by doing something different I discovered a series that I may not have explored otherwise. #9: Image quality isn’t everything Some photographers may disagree with me here, but from my personal experience in shooting on the street, I haven’t been concerned with image quality as much as I am when shooting landscapes or commercial work. Yes, you should strive for high image quality when possible, but with street photography it’s not as important. In my opinion, composition, light, drama and the story you are trying to tell are of more important than image quality. If your images capture those four things, then you’re on the right path to becoming a great street shooter. Sharpness, low noise and immaculate image quality are worthless if you have poor composition, bad light and no atmosphere to tell a story. Focus on what’s important — that’s essentially what makes a great street image. #10: Most importantly, have fun Like all genres of photography, it’s important to enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. If shooting on the street doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, then chances are you’ll probably take ordinary images. Creativity flows where the passion lives, so do what makes you happy, not what other people expect to see. I love shooting street because it gets me out and about, meeting interesting people, and seeing everyday life from a fresh perspective. That’s what inspires me to do what I do. Conclusion Street photography requires practice and the more you get out there, the more your eye will develop and your confidence grow. The approach is much simpler than other genres and manipulation should be kept to the essentials, with minimal to no post- processing. The only manipulation I tend to do with my street photography is done through the camera viewfinder.
  9. 9. Perception and intuition are the most important factors. Perception requires a creative eye for detail and is an attentive effort. Intuition is immediate and is not duty-bound to any attentive reasoning. These two factors are combined to create the decisive moment, an amazing process that takes your images to the next level. Because of this process, it’s here in the moment that street photography is captured and expressed. Strong street photos come from powerful ideas and emotions captured in a simplistic manner. It comes down to perception to force yourself out with your camera to capture decisive moments that unfold in front of you. About the author: Drew Hopper is a fine art travel and landscape photographer based out of Australia. Captivated by the diversity of cultures, people and environment, Drew ventures far and wide to capture pictures that define his experiences with the vision that they will impact and inspire an audience in a way individual to each viewer. You can find more of his work and writing on his and . This article was also published . website blog here TAGS: ADVICE, DREWHOPPER, LIST, STREETPHOTOGRAPHY, TIPS 48 COMMENTSTweetShare 303 by TaboolaSponsored Links Arin Ceciyan Martel Apply now! Become a permanent resident of Canada. Canadian Visa Professionals I found a simple way to unblock my ears. Here’s what I did Adding this to your morning routine will completely remove the dark spots from your face: Prostate Issues Are All Gone
  10. 10. Comments for this thread are now closed  × 48 Comments PetaPixel Login1 t Tweet f Share Sort by Best Oliver Twisted • 4 years ago • edited • "The quickest and easiest way to set up your camera for street photography is by switching the camera to AV (aperture-priority mode) and selecting your f-stop (aperture) and ISO manually. The camera will then decide the shutter speed (exposure). On a bright sunny day a good place to start is around f/16 with an ISO between 200-400. If your camera displays a shutter speed higher than 1/200th a second you are ready to roll." Really enjoyed this piece. And while this statement above isn't bad advice, I would actual recommend one sets their ISO to auto with a shutter minimum of 1/250th of a second. This way, you eliminate the risk of the shutter firing too slow at the expense of more noise. In street photography, a blurred subject (unless you're going for a special effect) is worse than a noisy subject. If I'm in really bright mid- day conditions, I'll even go 1/500th of a second minimum. Daytime: Another thing not mentioned is setting focus manually using zone or hyperfocal distances based on your aperture, which is going to be way more reliable and faster than any auto focus. This is why using wide lenses and manually setting your aperture to f/5.6 or smaller is so important -- because of the huge DoF you can achieve. Though this doesn't apply to night and indoor/subway photography. In those cases, I find it's best to switch to a wide aperture and pray your AF hits the right subject. 6 △ ▽ PetaPixel Comment Policy Be respectful and on-topic. Inappropriate comments lead to deletions and bans. Please help by flagging bad comments. Recommend 12 Share › Fast Weight Loss for Lazy People FruThin Instant Snoring Solution Comlix
  11. 11. KrautHammer • 4 years ago • edited • Should be titled, "10 Successful Street Photography Tips for Drew Hopper". No 2 people shoot the same, so what works here for this person is great. It is however disingenuous to pass off how one person shoots as being the best way or a way to success. If this works for the person writing the article, FANTASTIC! I'm so tired of hearing how using a telephoto lens makes you appear to be a "creeper". Articles with statements like that do more harm to the thoughts of street photography than the actual use of telephoto. Just about every point above could be twisted into a "creeper" statement. Shoot from the hip, "creeper" who doesn't want to have people know they are shooting. Shoot at night, "creeper" trying to hide in darkness and take pictures like a pedo!! I've heard them all and trying to put too many "points to success" really only takes originality out of the experience and we get too many of the same and we stagnate on innovation or great ideas. 5 △ ▽ 2 imajez • 4 years ago • > KrautHammer "No 2 people shoot the same, so what works here for this person is great. " My view too and was going to make same point. Thinking one's own way of working is the optimal way for everyone else too is the mistake many such articles make. Saying 'this works for me, it may also be worth you trying it' is far better than claiming 'these are the rules for doing...' 3 △ ▽ 3ric15 • 4 years ago • > KrautHammer He's not wrong though, people tend to shy away from huge cameras. 3 △ ▽ KrautHammer • 4 years ago> 3ric15 I've been shooting street since 2008 in large and small cities. I've yet to have anyone "shy away" from me regardless of the camera I am using. I think this "shying away" phenomenon is largely an overblown concept. There was a recent petapixel article where some "street photographer" was shooting and doing a great Share › Share › Share ›
  12. 12. • street photographer was shooting and doing a great job at showing the worst possible way to shoot street and treat other human beings. Jammed a short prime right into other peoples faces. Attitude and professionalism are way more important when shooting street. http://petapixel.com/2015/1... △ ▽ Kelly Padgett • 4 years ago • > 3ric15 you are 100% correct △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • > Kelly Padgett Except he isn't. You can take photos with big chunky cameras in plain sight and be completely ignored by your subjects if you go about it the right way. This was taken with a 5DII+ grip with a 24-70 f2.8 and large lens hood which is a hefty and certainly not discreet camera/lens combination. In fact I'd say it was easier in this case, than using my Sony RX100 III with the equivalent lens, as people would assume I'm using a big tele lens and not a wideangle when using the Canon kit. ⛺ 1 △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago • > imajez The old men on the left are looking away from you, they felt the invasion. 1 △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • edited> Hector People do like to talk a load of complete rubbish don't they. Were you there? No you weren't, but yet you still think you know what was going on. The two chaps were chatting to themselves and weren't bothered by my presence as it's a popular tourist resort with cameras everywhere. My camera wasn't even Share › Share › Share › Share ›
  13. 13. • pointing at them and with the lens I was using, it look like a tele lens and that I was shooting something behind them. If you look like a dumb tourist and don't point camera directly at people, people normally ignore you. △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago • > imajez I have been in that situation, you think you are about to grab a wonderful natural spontaneous shot and in the last second the subject turns is eyes away and puts on a stiff face. It's all over their body language. △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • > Hector Maybe you need to work better on your being less obvious about what you are doing or be faster and also accept that due to this not being a studio shoot people are not going to pose as you would like for them, so you will miss shoots. △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago • edited • > imajez It happens to everyone and it happened to you in that shot. The guy in the green jacket is avoiding contact. △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • > Hector You were NOT there. You therefore have ZERO idea what the situation was. I took the picture because of the canoodling couple, who seemed to make the other two uncomfy. Also the long lens was pointing away from the two older chaps, who were unlikely to realise it was actually a wideangle zoom. △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago> KrautHammer Telephotos are mostly not recommended for street photography because they tend to isolate the subject with shallow depth of field and narrow field of view although they also flag you instantly as a photographer. Share › Share › Share › Share › Share ›
  14. 14. • I'm sure there are some guys out there doing nice street photos with white Canon L telephotos and 5D bodies but those are not the optimal tools for the task. 1 △ ▽ 1 imajez • 4 years ago • > Hector Nothing wrong with isolating subject or using shallow depth of field and cameras tend to flag you as being a photographer regardless of the lens being used. Using a camera with a tele lens is normally far less noticeable to your subject than using a wide lens closer in. My Canon 5D bodies with 16-35mm or 24-70mm f2.8 lenses are way bigger than my EM5DII with a 80- 300mm [equivalent lens], not that being seen with a camera is necessarily a problem anyway 3 △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago • > imajez There's nothing wrong with subject isolation per se but for you are taking the street out of the "street photo" by focusing only on the subject's body and excluding context. 1 △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • > Hector We are a bit literal aren't we. 'Street photography' [an awful term] is a catch all for usually candid non set up photos that tell a story, are humorous or an observation of life. As long as you show what is needed, that's all you need. So if removing clutter like an irrelevant background helps tell the story, do that and not worry about ridiculous rules about how things should be done. △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago> imajez As I said before, you can go ahead and do something interesting with a telephoto in street photography but it is not the optimal tool. As a documentary genre, street photography benefits from context and wide angles bring in more context than telephotos, there is nothing ridiculous about that. I can't recall a street photography master t lki b t t l h t i hi k Share › Share › Share › Share ›
  15. 15. • talking about telephotos in his work. △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • edited • > Hector Portrait photographers don't tend talk about using wide angles in their work either, doesn't mean you can't use them. Street photography can be a whole heap of different things. You wanting to limit it, only reflects upon you and your limited world view. ⛺ 1 △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago • > imajez Here are 2 guidelines for sports photography: 1. Use a lipstick. 2. Ignore number one. △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • > Hector Same as 'street' photography then. △ ▽ KrautHammer • 4 years ago • edited • > Hector No one said you had to use a hand cannon. I have and still do use an Olympus 40-150/4-5.6 and 75-300/4.8- 6.7 for street photography. Jay Maisel uses a 28-300 on his Nikon D3 as an example. △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago "The approach is much simpler than other genres and manipulation should be kept to the essentials, with minimal to no post-processing. The only manipulation I tend to do with my street photography is done through the camera viewfinder." So not sure how Drew explains the heavy vignetting in most shots, the desaturation and crunchy contrast in one shot and B+W in other shots. Nothing wrong with him doing post work like that as it can be effective, but don't pretend it isn't done. Not one shot looks like Share › Share › Share › Share › Share ›
  16. 16. • minimal/no work done. 2 △ ▽ bogorad • 4 years ago • Any modern camera has auto-ISO, so why not use it? As you correctly state in (9), image quality isn't everything. But unintentionally blurred shots are just garbage. So for run-and-gun why not set your camera to F/7.1, 1/200sec, and ISO=auto (no upwards limit). It's going to be around ISO 100-200 at daytime, and anywhere from 6400 up at night - so what? You'll always get sharp in-focus pictures. And noise is nothing, since I almost always convert to b/w and add some 'film' grain. 2 △ ▽ Patriot4ever • 4 years ago • Interesting you didn't mention using an iPhone or other Smart Phone for street photography. I almost exclusively use my iPhone 6 for street photography. Talk about less intrusive! With the quality of the camera I capture excellent shots and it is so easy to shoot quickly and appear non chalant. 1 △ ▽ dleereus • 3 years ago • > Patriot4ever Smart phones aren't good for quickly capturing fleeting moments in a well-framed composition with the right depth of field shutter speed. △ ▽ Kelly Padgett • 4 years ago • #5 I disagree with. As there is a certain amount of respect that needs to be extended when taking someones photo, regardless of where you are. 1 △ ▽ Being Yourself • 2 years ago • > Kelly Padgett Do you ask everytime you take a street photo? 5 △ ▽ Carlee Keppler-Carson • 4 years ago> Kelly Padgett The world is beautiful but not a zoo. A smile, an acknowledgement of the subject or the bribe of a cigarette can gain you access far more readily than just aiming a lens, especially a big one. At this stage of the game nothing gives me more pleasure than watching a very expensive rig get slapped out of a burgeoning travel photographers hands because they didn't respect the place or the culture You may Share › Share › Share › Share › Share › Share ›
  17. 17. • because they didn t respect the place or the culture. You may loose a more candid expression, but a returned smile is far more rewarding. As for press work, that's another matter all together. 1 △ ▽ Kelly Padgett • 4 years ago • > Carlee Keppler-Carson Thats exactly right. Its about having respect for the people you are shooting. 90% of the time, people will go back to doing what they were doing, if only you ask if its ok to take photos. Recently i was back in Siem Reap again. A lady there I've seen many times was carrying on about her usual business and I asked if I could take a photo (it has been done before) and she said no, she didn't want it. So I let her be, even tho i really wanted the shot. Press work is completely different for sure. We also have to remember to put ourselves in other peoples shoes. How would we feel if people were shoving cameras in our faces everyday without so much a hello, a hi, or a thank you? Sometimes we can sneak a photo.. others we need to simply respect the person and seek permission. 1 △ ▽ Hector • 4 years ago • > Kelly Padgett Henri Cartier-Bresson disagrees with you. 1 △ ▽ Kelly Padgett • 4 years ago • > Hector i could care less △ ▽ Brennan McKissick • 4 years ago • > Kelly Padgett Two different schools of thought. Sorry, I shoot street in NYC every day and I'm not stopping everyone to walk back and do what they were just doing, it ruins the moment anyways. Asking for permission is cool for environmental portraits or something but that's about it. People are going to get mad but you have to learn to defuse the situation. You can't be a pansy and shoot street. △ ▽ Jonathan Maniago • 4 years ago • edited "The quickest and easiest way to set up your camera for street photography is by switching the camera to AV (aperture-priority mode) and selecting your f-stop (aperture) and ISO manually." Share › Share › Share › Share › Share ›
  18. 18. • Aperture Priority's fine for street portraiture, but methinks Shutter Priority might be the better option for freezing action or conveying motion in street photography. More often than not, it's the timing rather than the bokeh which makes a street photographer's shot stand out. 1 △ ▽ imajez • 4 years ago • > Jonathan Maniago Or simply use manual. Easier and faster than auto in many ways. △ ▽ Kratos_IcE • a year ago • Shoot from the hip DOES make you look creepy, if you have a problem with being confronted when you shoot holding the camera to your eye level, then do not do it from the hip level ==> that is going to get you " f " ed up. △ ▽ gonzalito • 2 years ago Lot of BS comments here. You just read article which sugests how to do street photography and give some usefull advice. some of you guys are raking thi gs so seriously to the point of actually mocking the author. Some people will agree, some wont. if you dont agree, dont read it. It Share › Share › Share › PREV Hockey Photographer’s Lens Hood Falls Onto the Ice, Gets Confused for a Puck NEXT This Photo of an Astronaut Shows How Big the ISS Is
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