Street Photography: Using Space to Convey Mood

Street photography is full of surprises. Photo opportunities can come and go in the blink of an eye. And it’s important that you’re able to tell stories with what you capture. This is where your ability to observe comes into play. Street photographer Alan Schaller narrates his journey in this short film called Streets in Mind:


Street photography is unpredictable. Some things can be guessed, but you can never be 100 percent confident.

“The best you can do really is to preempt and almost fantasize an of image what could happen in the space in front of you.”

street photo of a woman in subway

Street Photography in Cities

There are so many things going on in the city that it can sometimes get overwhelming. Schaller’s solution for remaining focused in such a chaotic environment is to limit himself. Use a single focal length, shoot in a single location, etc.

street photography in the cities

Story Telling

Being able to tell stories is a vital skill to have as a street photographer. This requires that you have a creative vision. With his strong background in music, creativity was next to natural for Schaller.

“It’s the storytelling part that goes into my work that makes it my own.”

story telling in street photography

Expression and Emotion

“Expression and emotion have always been really important to me in the pictures.”

Schaller has moved on from just portraying the subject’s expression to showing them in the context of their environment. This way, you can use the entire space around the subject to convey mood instead of just the face.

emotion and expression in street photography

Freeze the Moment

“For me, capturing an image that can’t be reproduced is kind of the essence of street photography.”

As a street photographer, be aware of your surroundings and the things that are happening there. Keep your eyes out for moments that cannot be reproduced. Always be ready to press that shutter button.

street photo of a dog resting

Failure in Street Photography

“Of course, not getting the shot you want happens all the time.”

Don’t expect things to go along the exact path you might have planned or imagined. Some days, you may not be in the right headspace. There will even be some days where you don’t get any meaningful shots, and that’s perfectly fine.

“One of the most exciting things about street photography is waking up every day and not knowing what you’re going to come back with. So, that’s the magic.”

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