Street Photography: 7 Steps to Success

Have you ever tried taking a picture of a friend and told her to “just act natural?” While attempting to take the second shot, did your friend look right into the camera? Have you ever wondered how street photographers manage to capture candid shots of their subjects?

black and whtie street photography

photo captured by Sjoerd Lammers

Most of the people in street photos seem so unaware of the artistic invasion. The photographers often allow us a glimpse inside the world that they’ve created through their lenses. We witness stolen moments of intimacy between two people at a train station. Up close and personal shots of the homeless leave us wondering who they are.

The secret to taking great street photography is a combination of technique, emotion, and patience. If you follow the secrets below, you’ll be on your way to creating inspirational images.

1. Dress for Success

Discretion is the key. Try to blend in with everyone on the street. The plan is to walk around unnoticed.

2. Point and Shoot

The first mistake a lot of beginners make is asking a person to act natural. Don’t ask for permission. Do not pose people either! Once you do that, the moment is forever gone. Shoot first, ask later.

street photography without permission

“nju dɛli #8” captured by Thomas Leuthard

3. Stalk the Shot Not the People

Try shooting from the hip. Position your camera on your hip and shoot, not looking through the viewfinder.

street photography from the hip

“Helados” captured by David Santaolalla

Currently on the market, there are many wonderful point and shoot cameras for street photography. One such notable is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. It has a wide 24 mm lens minus the viewfinder. Perfect for street photography!

4. Move Your Body, Not Your Lens

Keep an open eye and walk where your eye takes you. Do not use a long lens. Long lenses separate you from people and prevent you from interacting with the people. Furthermore, long lenses make you feel like you’re spying on someone.

short lenses for street photos

“libertad” captured by roger alcantara

5. Look for Emotion

Find something that stirs an emotion or ideas. Use the interactions of people and places to capture a sense of passion and feeling.

6. Less is Best

Carry minimal equipment. Choose a camera and lens and leave it at that. Leave the camera bags, backpacks, and vests at home. Remember, you don’t want to look like a photographer!

7. Be Patient

Use scenarios that are busy and naturally interesting. Wait for the right shot. You don’t want to miss out on the real action because you were wasting time photographing mediocre ones.

street photography patience

“1175” captured by Gabriel Cabral

Now that you’ve learned a few techniques, what are you waiting for? Get out and try them out!

About the Author:
Selena Walker (marketingwithgloria dot com) is a life-style blogger, self-improvement coach and internet marketer. She loves inspiring others and working from home.

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4 Comments

  1. There are a few good tips here. I wish, however, there were better examples of pictures. Neither of these really show the magic of street photography. Also, I would suggest that the two best tips are to a) simply walk (a lot!) and b) find a way of working that doesn’t require one to be invisible, by dress or camera style – or hip shots. Ugh! Instead, find a way of working (see here: http://2point8.whileseated.org/wow-footer/) that allows you to shoot almost anywhere without looking conspicuous. Not only do hip shots make one look guilty, they rarely give enough control to make a great shot. Cameras have viewfinders for a reason. Lastly, perhaps the best advice is to be really critical of your own photos. Many people get caught up in the emotion of taking street photos. Photographs don’t carry the smells, the sounds, or the energy of the street. That’s why it’s important to be ruthless in your own editing.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I personnaly agree with the intent to blend in and being unnoticed. People lose their natural when they see you.
    My streestyle blog in NYC: http://www.mybigapplecity.com
    Jennie

  3. Dan D says:

    Nice PR work, Panasonic.

  4. Lenny says:

    I live in Mexico, am 6’1” tall with blue eyes and blond hair. No way to become invisible. Quite often I just keep shooting in the same location until the locals get bored with me… then I can get some candids.

    Nothing wrong with shooting from the hip. I do it quite a bit usually with a wide angle or fisheye. It does take some practice. All the shots are not ugh! Go places where the locals are used to tourists sticking cameras in their faces. The two main things as mentioned above… lots of walking and patience.

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