50 Street Photography Tips

I’m going to be adding some street photography content to this site (tips, techniques, info) soon. Street photography is such a varied and valuable craft for photographers. For an event or wedding photographer, it helps to learn how to anticipate gestures and moments of interaction. For any photographer it helps in understanding light, in creating compositions and working under a variety of conditions. It’s also the genre of photography that has probably given me the most enjoyment (and frustration).

Like any art form, there are no rules beyond the legal and ethical considerations. There are some things that work, in general, visually. There are some things that work, in general, as techniques. But not everything works for everyone, and part of the fun (and frustration) can be the journey finding out what works for you, what images speak to you most, and how you can best create those. So consider the list below as, mostly, suggestions to try out sometimes.

Gear One camera, one lens Take business cards Travel light Shoot film sometimes Get a cheap manual lens Try something different (e.g. using a filter, smartphone only, fisheye lens)

Technique Set the scene - start by finding a background that you like Find negative space Don't plan, just explore Use spot metering (especially at night) Wait - if you’re nervous about photographing people it can be much less intimidating to stay still, let people come to you and walk through your frame Use Back-button focus Expose for the highlights Manually focus sometimes, so you know how when you need it Try zone focusing Shoot from low down Listen to classical music Shoot in the rain or just after (reflections) Shoot for the conditions (golden hour vs. sun vs. cloud) Find a good location and work it Aim a little away from people so they don't think they're being photographed People tend to look at a person they’re about to pass when about 6 meters away, then look away again. Let that happen then photograph them.

Vision & Composition Pre-visualize a shot Use your surroundings to create a frame within the frame Create layers (foreground, middle-ground, background) Tell a story Study the light Look for striking, matching or complementary colors Use triangles Experiment with leading space Create diagonals for a more dynamic image Break the rules (know them first)

At home

Study the great photographers, not (or at least not just) Instagram

Study composition

Learn color theory

Practice at home

Know your camera

Find other street photos you like and figure out why

Learn how to edit

Don't over-edit

Be selective over what you share online

Join a collection or club

Find a mentor

Philosophy Try street portraits

Give someone a print Get 5 rejections while asking for a portrait Shoot whatever catches your eye Photograph others genres Work on a project Slow down Smile Be patient Listen and smell - don't just look Have an answer for 'what are you doing?' - know what and why Have fun, don't force it

I’ll be putting these into a page on this website soon and probably add to them over time, but one last suggestion: Try something different, ignore the tips, break the rules, do what nobody else is doing, or at least what you don’t normally do. It just might work out.


Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City


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