Street Photography Tips For Beginners

April 09, 2018

Street photography is all about the art of capturing candid moments of life, culture, and humanity. Many street photographers believe that the beauty of street photography is that life and motion is constantly unfolding around you and that there are endless possibilities when it comes to shooting various forms of spontaneous expressions.

While street photography may be an interesting occupation, it can be challenging for those who have never experienced it before as a huge part of it is trying to capture life as it happens and no one is pausing to strike a pose or follow your instructions. Essentially, you are encapsulating once-in-a lifetime moments that could represent a culture of a certain era. Ultimately, street photography is a ton of fun and could be a very rewarding form of art especially when you see the final output of your work. If you’re thinking of giving street photography a go, here are some tips on how to start:



Check your tech – before hitting the road, make sure to bring the right type of equipment. Some photographers ditch their bulky DSLRs for a more compact, lighter camera like mirrorless cameras. Smartphone cameras make for good alternatives as well. If you made plans to spend your day practicing, make sure you bring the right accessories like lenses, flash, etc. It’s better to bring just one of each for two reasons: for mobility and to train yourself to shoot with limited gear.




Feel the place – whether your shooting at a local or foreign location, get the feel of the place first before taking photos. You can find the right place to wait for the right moment. Street photography can get initially overwhelming so it helps to observe your surroundings and get familiar with its rhythm.






Stake out a scene – after you’ve familiarized yourself with the area, find out about the lighting, the frequency of population, and then get the perfect momentum to start shooting. For example, you want to take pictures of a bus stop where you find different kinds of people doing different things. You can capture what they do while waiting for the bus, get the intimate details of their expressions while they’re at their quiet moments.






Explore alleys – side streets or alleys often make for interesting photos since they naturally have good lighting and you could find a lot of quirky, unexpected scenes in them. Think of the alleys as a “behind the scenes” type of street photography.





Shoot a lot – don’t worry about the number of photos you take as you can always edit them out later. Take as many pictures as you can because you might just discover the perfect shot in there. Additionally, “the right moments” are often fleeting so be alert and snap plenty of them.






Know the rights and the law – a big part of learning street photography is learning about your rights and observing the rules. For each country, the law could differ from each other. Although it largely boils down to respecting privacy, cultural differences, and observing pedestrian rules, it makes a big difference if you’re aware of the fine print. In some countries like France, citizens’ privacy is a very sensitive matter and some photographers have been incriminated for taking people’s pictures in public places. However, there is still a vague line when it comes to exercising your right to freedom of expression. This is why it is important to do your research.





Edit but don’t over-process your images - at the end of your shoot, you’ll have to select your best photos. Make sure to edit wisely and preserve the images’ natural beauty. Since you are only beginning to learn the art of street photography, be patient with the results, keep practicing until you get a handle on it, and have fun!




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