Tips and Tricks for Urban Lifestyle Photography

Capturing day to day life in a compelling way is often easier said than done. Our ordinary lives don’t usually feel all that extraordinary, and getting interesting photographs with run-of-the-mill subjects can become a creative challenge. Luckily, a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way for a well versed photographer. Shamsan Anders, in cooperation with COOPH, shows a few simple techniques that can come in handy during any urban expedition:

Use a Window as a Filter

Shooting through a window is an easy way to add depth to any photograph. Holding a prism to the side of your lens can further enhance reflections and yield even more impressive results. In many cases, capturing reflections clearly can create an image akin to a double exposure. However, shallow depths of field can also work well to create an obscured, dreamy effect.

Seek Out Neon

A neon sign automatically evokes energy and implies an urban environment. Especially when working on the street at night, they can prove to be a powerful and dramatic source of light. Available in just about every color, they may also provide your photograph with a fascinating or alluring palette that breaks norms.

Experiment with Perspective

Understandably, photographers generally stick to shooting subjects at eye-level. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are always multiple ways of looking at a single scene. Try positioning models horizontally and shooting from a bird’s eye view, the way one might position a flat lay still life. Think of unique ways in which your subjects can interact with their surroundings.

Stay Authentic

The best lifestyle photographs don’t feel forced. For the best results, carry around your camera and photograph your everyday routine. Don’t be afraid to use the objects, people, and lights that you have at your disposal. Working with the elements you’re most familiar with can work in your favor.

photography still life

Look Up

Turn your head to the clouds and capture the canopy of skyscrapers and structures that make up your city. Urban environments have a lot of action going on above eye-level, and that can be easy to miss out on. Low-angles don’t work in every situation; in particular, they can be detrimental to a portrait. They do, however, often make for fascinating architectural shots.

looking up

Look Down

Take a look at your urban environment from a high perch. Just as it’s easy to miss what’s going on just above one’s head, taking a look to the ground below can be an excellent way to experiment with perspective.

Check out a Garage

It may not seem like the most likely location for a great photo, but parking garages are often accommodating locations for an impromptu photo shoot. Depending on the time of day, they provide contrasty, dramatic artificial and natural light. Furthermore, their grungy appearance immediately conveys the feeling of an urban environment.

contrasting light

Bring in a Spare Lens

Don’t let an unused lens sit forlorn in your gear bag. Instead, it can be used to create unique, intriguing cityscapes. By simply holding a spare piece of glass with a wide aperture out in front of the camera, it’s possible to capture a miniature, upside-down view of a place. A quick rotation in post production can make the shot clearer and create a surreal effect.

unique cityscape

What other tips do you have for compelling urban photography?

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