Street photography also called candid photography, is about documenting everyday life and society on the streets. Great street photographs always say a story about life; they speak to us; they fill us with an emotion; or they give us insight. Now let’s come to my 50 tips to improve your street photography. I hope you find them to be insightful and instructive. Get ready for a long scroll!
If you feel it’s too much to read, check out my video about these 50 tips for Street Photography…
According to me, any camera of any make is fine for street photography. You may also use your mobile phone if you don’t have a camera. If you have a camera, it’s better to use a wide lens that allows you to be a part of the scene and capture its complete essence!
I use Aperture Priority and set my aperture around f/5. I keep my ISO such that my shutter speed is around 1/100. In broad daylight, ISO 100 gives me that, but in ambient light I may go to ISO 500-1600; it all depends upon the light. My metering is matrix and white balance is auto.
3. Shoot In RAW
RAW files give you a lot more scope to change the image in post production than JPEGs do. You can also decide later whether to choose colour or black and white.
4. Use Burst Mode
Set your camera to shoot continuously as you keep the shutter button pressed. This allows you to capture more frames of your subject, and who knows when the subject may make a quirky expression or gesture that may make for a great shot.
5. Know Your Location
Before you head out to shoot, do a little bit of research about that place, even if that place is in your city. Study the photographs of other photographers of that place on Google or Instagram, and see how you can click them in your own way. Watch for events in your area. Check the local newspaper or online events calendars.
6. Start Local
Don’t go searching for a “Special Place” when shooting street photography. The interesting place is usually the one that’s closest to your home. And an advantage of shooting locally is that you would have a feel for where to go and where’s best avoided.
Wear dark or dull clothes so you don’t stand out. It can be damn useful for clicking those candid shots and not getting noticed.
8. Get Close
Using a wide-angle lens enables you to get nice and close to your subjects. If your images aren’t how you visualized them, then you may need to get closer; so use your feet as your zoom to be sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
9. Ignore The Voice In Your Mind
Sometimes you may fear that what if people get angry if you photograph them. Or else they may stare and you may feel uncomfortable. Just ignore the voice in your mind and get started. People may stare at you, laugh at you, scold you, whatever, but they are gonna forget about you after a minute. But the photos you click are gonna be with you for years.
10. Ask For Permission
People love getting their photos taken, and as long as you act courteous and casual about it. But if someone refuses, don’t take it to heart. Thank that person anyway and move on to the next subject.
11. Develop Your People Skills
Let people see you as a participant rather than an observer. They know you’re there to take pictures. Do so politely and without obstructing the flow of life around you.
12. Don’t Shoot People From The Back
When I started to shoot street photography, I was very timid. I mostly shot the back of peoples’ heads— so they wouldn’t notice me. When you capture more faces in your street photography, your photos will have more vigor, energy, and dynamism. I know it is scary, but just do it.
Okay so if you are still scared to photograph people, try pretending that you are shooting something behind the subject. You may make the person feel that you are photographing the building behind him, and so he may not bother much about it.
14. Direct Your Subject
If you do come across a friendly and obliging subject, ask him to pose for you to make better photos. Have a few compositions in your mind so that you can try them out without keeping your subject waiting for a long time.
15. Use The Viewfinder
Don’t try to overcome your fear of shooting street photography by shooting with the live view, and not looking through the viewfinder. Be confident. By not shooting from the hip, you’re signaling to the world that you’re not doing anything wrong, just doing your job.
Many street photographers are constantly on the move, hunting for the perfect moment. But taking time to simply stand in your environment allows you to be more observant, and you’ll be able to spot exciting scenes more easily.
17. Get The Focus Right
Before you click, find out what is the most important part of the scene, and make sure that is where your focus point is. I use autofocus with a single or 9 focus points. You may also try manual focus.
18. Shoot From Different Angles
During street photography we can either be lazy and always shoot from our normal point of view when we are standing, or we could put some extra effort into the photograph by searching for unique perspectives. Try shooting from a high angle or low angle or sideways, whichever unique way you can think of.
19. Work With The Light
As a street photographer, you’re working with what’s given to you. So, when you can’t choose the time of day for the shoot, find ways to work with the available light. Pay attention to where the shadows are falling, and the light is shining.
20. Shoot At Night
The face of the city changes when the sun goes down. Light displays, traffic, and the creatures of the night offer unlimited opportunities. Crank up the ISO setting and record the drama as it unfolds.
21. Use Exposure Compensation
Shadows and light can make a great effect in street photography. Dial down your exposure compensation setting to negative numbers, -1 or -2. This can help add more negative space by creating dramatic shadows in the background and highlighting your subjects.
22. Learn Composition
It is essential to understand how a good picture should be structured. Read a bit about the rules of composition and try to follow them as you photograph. The Rule of Thirds works best for beginners where you divide your frame in a 3×3 grid and place your subject along the lines or at the intersecting points of these lines.
23. Look For Leading Lines
Having lines leading to a subject increases its importance. For a story, this usually marks the starting point as the eye is automatically forced in this direction. From there, the story develops.
24. Search For Shapes
Circles, triangles, or diagonals make interesting details in the arrangement of your image. Search for them when you are on the street next time, they can be found everywhere, from abstract forms to street signs.
25. Frame Within A Frame
While looking for various shapes in your scene, see how you can use any of those shapes to frame your subject. Frames can be anything windows, doors, mirrors, just make sure your frame adds meaning to the scene and highlights the subject.
26. Look For The Background
If the background is too chaotic or cluttered, which can happen often in a city environment, the subject won’t stand out and disappear in this chaos. Before you press the shutter button, always make sure that the background is appealing.
27. Don’t Think. Feel.
Street shooting really starts to feel fun when you learn to not think about the technical stuff and just feel the pulse of the city—and every place has some pulse. Learn to trust your skills and maintain your rhythm.
28. Take Many Photos
When you think you’ve got the shot, shoot 25% more than you think you should. Often when you shoot a bit more, you force yourself to be more creative, and get even more unique photos than in the beginning.
29. Go Fishing
The fishing technique is common practice for street photographers. This requires you to find an interesting scene or background and wait for an intriguing subject to step into it. Of course, you’re going to have to be patient – you could be waiting ten minutes or you could be waiting an hour.
30. Capture Colour
Look for those incidents of isolated colour as well as colourful scenes. Every colour can be used to add vibrancy and vitality to an image. But also, the colours you choose (and don’t choose) can define your style as an artist.
31. Capture Without Colour
In addition to colour, also try your hand at shooting in black and white. Shadows, textures, and patterns all might be accentuated more in black and white. It can help you in avoiding distractions from the main message of a street photo.
32. Bad Weather Is Good Weather
For a street scene, weather of all kinds only adds texture and life to an environment. Plus, people battling the elements creates for some dynamic images. Sometimes, the worst conditions can provide the best photo opportunities.
33. Depict Emotion
Shoot with your heart. Try to capture a wide gamut of emotions. Look for misery, sadness, isolation, happiness, a sense of longing, joy, excitement, and euphoria.
34. Look For Characters
I always look out for interesting characters – be that people with a unique dress sense or someone with a fancy hairstyle. You can follow them around and with their permission, take multiple shots of them with different poses and backgrounds.
35. Slow Shutter Speed
A little—or even a lot—of motion blur isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a street photo. Slow shutter speeds at a popular tourist attraction or railway station will blur your subjects and can be a beautiful way to capture a sense of the activity.
36. Street Photography Without People
The best way to photograph the streets is by showing people directly. Then there is also another side of street photography where you can show daily life without having people in your pictures.
37. Go Against The Crowd
To build a good vision as a street photographer is to have a different and your own view of the world. To see what others do not see. Look at the other direction from where everybody else is shooting. Who knows what you may find!
38. Take Your Camera Everywhere
Street photography is spontaneous and waits for no one. It’s a discipline you must practice to make perfect. I know that it may be difficult for you to take your camera everywhere so you can practice with your mobile phone.
39. Inspire Yourself
There is so much we can learn from paintings, movies, or music that we shouldn’t miss out on. Be open-minded and seek inspiration everywhere in life, not only in street photography.
40. Try A Different Genre
It can be helpful to try other genres of photography. Architecture can help to discover geometrical forms. Portrait photography can help you be more comfortable around other people. Food photography can help you capture the essence of street food.
41. Photograph Who You Are
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to shoot street photography. You need to shoot who you are. It’s good to take inspiration from the masters, but always photograph with your vision and style.
42. Don’t Force It
The irony of photography is that the harder I try to make good photos, the less likely I am to make good photos. Don’t force yourself to shoot when you don’t feel like it. It’s okay if you want to spend the day without your camera.
43. Edit well
The process of editing is just as important as the process of shooting. Even the best photographers feel the need to have a little post processing magic. You may use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom or any free software or app.
44. Receive Critique
You are never able to judge your own pictures with an objective base of mind. Therefore other people’s opinions are important to realize where your pictures are lacking and need improvement. But don’t blindly follow others’ opinions too, learn to filter what is genuine feedback or just a hate comment.
45. Don’t explain your photos
A good joke doesn’t need to be explained. Similarly a good street photograph shouldn’t need a detailed backstory in the caption of a photograph. The more open to interpretation you make your photos, the more engaging they will be to your viewer.
46. Share Your Images
Instagram, Facebook or Flickr are great platforms to share your images with a broader audience. Also try to build a blog or website where you work on a project and build up a portfolio.
47. Print Your Pictures
Printing some of your pictures that you like, will feel like an accomplishment and motivate you to go out and get more images that you can print.
48. Embrace Failure
The more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed. When you fail to get the shot, don’t become discouraged. Rather, learn from your failures and mistakes. Question why things went wrong and how you can improve your photography.
49. Break The Rules
If there is a certain “rule” in photography you normally follow, break it, in a creative way. But in order to break the rules, you need to learn them thoroughly first.
50. Have Fun
Like all genres of photography, it’s important to enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. I love street photography because it gets me out of my house, let’s me meet new people, and see everyday life from a different perspective.
I hope you find these 50 tips to be useful guys. Do comment on what you want to read more on my blog. Thank you so much for reading. If you liked my blog, please give it a star and start following me. Thank you and happy clicking!
Also Read – 50 Tips for Landscape Photography
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