Street Photography: 10 Sneaky Tips

Street photography is all about capturing the essence of daily life in the streets. It’s a powerful genre of photography that captures a moment as it is. The challenge usually arises when you’re out there pointing a camera at people, which makes them self-conscious and kills the moment. Sometimes you need to be more discrete. In this video, street photographer Samuel Lintaru shares 10 ways to do street photography in a sneaky way:

“I’m not saying that you should hide. Be open about what you are doing but there are techniques that can help you become less of a creep.”

1. Pretend to Shoot Something Else

If you come across someone who has an interesting look or is doing something intriguing, you can pretend you’re shooting something else. Act like you’re photographing something around them, and when you see an opportunity, photograph them as well. Try this when people are indulged in an activity and don’t care about you being around much. Otherwise, it can seem creepy.

2. Pretend to Shoot Video

Seeing photographers peeping through the viewfinder is somewhat more alarming than when they’re using the bigger screen on the back of the camera. The modern vlogging trend has made people used to seeing vloggers walking around taking videos. Using this to your benefit, switch your camera over to live view and pretend like you are shooting a video. Whenever you come across something interesting, snap away.

3. Blend Into the Environment

I’m not saying that you should wear an overcoat, a hat, and dark glasses, but it helps if you wear something that blends in with the environment. Wearing neutral colors is the safest bet as, they don’t draw too much attention.

4. Make Your Friend Complicit

If you happen to have someone with you, you can get some help from them. For instance, you can pretend you’re showing them a picture on the back of your camera, and take a picture of the scene in front of you while doing so.

pretending to show image to a friend

sneaky phot taken in a train

5. Camp at a Spot Until Nobody Cares About You

In street photography, sometimes the action happens in a split second. Other times, you can wait at a particular spot for something to happen. Maybe the light is perfect at some location or there’s a reflecting surface that you can incorporate into your shot. It can be anything. If you come across this kind of location, set up camp there and keep taking photos. Once you remain there long enough, people  won’t even care that you’re there.

6. Turn Around to Shoot

Use this trick if you have someone walking right behind you that you want to photograph. While continuing to walk, take photos (or at least pretend to do so) of people or the scene around you. Then, while you take a quick turn, snap a photo of the subject behind you. You really need to be quick and accurate to nail your focus and composition.

7. Fake a Phone Call

Having your phone up to your ear will give the people the impression that you’re busy with your call. While doing so with one hand, keep on shooting with the other.

8. Shoot Remotely

Modern cameras can easily connect to smartphones allowing you to use the phone as a viewfinder and to take photos. This lets you freely move the camera around without having to look at your camera. Compose by referring to the back of your smartphone and shoot away.

using wifi to take street photos

sneaky photo taken using wifi

9. Shoot From the Hip

This is yet another technique that lets you photograph without having to hold the camera in front of your face. Hold the camera at hip level and take a photo when you come across anything interesting. Having a screen that flips out comes in handy.

shooting street photos from the hip

street photo taken from the hip

10. Play Dumb

Who would be alarmed by someone who looks like they have no idea what they’re doing? Pretend that you don’t know how to use the camera properly and snap some photos whenever you come across an interesting moment.

While some of these tips may be useful to an introvert, it’s always good to be open about what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to be caught. You’re not doing anything wrong.

“If people see you taking a photo, just smile and say, ‘Thank you.'”

What sneaky techniques do you use to take street photos?

For help with photo editing: The Street Photographer’s Lightroom Presets

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