10 Street Photography Tips to Get Beautiful Shots

1. Use a wide-angle prime instead of a zoom.

Street photography isn’t like high school science. Your subjects are not examined under a microscope. Street photography is more about experiencing everyday life close up.

When you start as a street photographer, you may feel tempted to use a longer zoom, such as a 70-200mm lens. This will allow you to shoot more distantly and be less awkward. It will cause more harm than good.

First, the monster zoom lens will make you look very conspicuous in public. People will notice a long lens from far away.

It would be best to point your zoom lens directly at someone using a zoom lens. This will make the person you are trying to photograph more aware of what is happening as if they had a gun pointed at their heads.

Instead of using a long zoom, you can use smaller, more discreet, and less threatening lenses.

A compact lens will make people less annoyed and often not even notice that you are holding it. A wide-angle lens allows you to capture subjects without pointing your camera at them. You can also compose your shots so that they are off to one side, and it will look (to your subjects) like you’re photographing a different area of the scene.

2. As close as possible

Street photography is all about closeness. When I say get close, it means it. It would be best if you got so close you could see the sweat dripping off a person’s forehead and the texture of their skin.

Combining closeness with a prime wide-angle lens (as mentioned in the previous tip) will give you a very immersive and engaging perspective. You’ll feel part of the scene and not someone just looking in.

You can also get very close to your subject, and they will not think twice about it. They’ll even believe that you are taking photos of something behind them.

3. Always keep your camera close at hand.

This is a common saying if you have been a street photog for some time. But I’m sure you have a million reasons not to own a camera.

You might think, “My camera is too heavy.” It isn’t very pleasant to have the camera charged constantly and ready for action.

Yes, it can be frustrating to carry a camera. Do you know what’s more frustrating? You regret missing the perfect photo opportunity, and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

Although it sounds dramatic, it is true. You never know when the most extraordinary moment might occur. Are you willing to stand there and not have a camera?

If you make a habit of carrying your camera everywhere, you will never be without those “Kodak moments”, which seem to occur at any moment. My best images have come to me at unexpected times. Images that I would not have captured if my camera wasn’t with me.

4. Do not care what others think about you.

Here are some street photography tips for beginners:

You are probably concerned about being called a “creeper,” “weirdo,” or just plain unkind comments by others. These thoughts must be ignored.

You will most likely be alone when you are shooting in the streets. This means that anyone judging you will likely be someone you don’t know or never meet again. They shouldn’t get in the way of your success.

Social rules can make it restrictive, especially if you are starting. Remember that social rules are not laws, and photography is allowed in public places in many locations.

Here’s an easy exercise that you can do if you struggle to overcome your fear of being judged.

Spend some time doing something different in public. Try lying down on the ground for about a minute to see how others react. Next, get up and walk away as if nothing ever happened. Stand facing the back wall and walk into an elevator. Stand like a statue at a busy intersection. People won’t notice, but trust me – that was an experiment I did for one of my sociology classes.

Social media is full of rules that restrict us. You can break them and be free from their constraints, and you will soon find yourself shooting on the streets.

5. Smile often

A smile is a great way to make people feel comfortable when shooting on the streets. If someone gives you a strange look while taking a photograph, you can tip your hat and show them two rows of your pearly white chompers. They will generally continue their day, and they may even smile back.

This approach is something I use all the time. I have a 95% response rate even in Los Angeles. I have met some of the most difficult people who smile at me. People will trust street photographers who smile; they will see you as a hobbyist and not someone with malicious intent.

It’ll also help you relax by smiling more often – a relaxed photographer makes a better photographer!

6. Ask for permission

Many street photographers believe that candid is the best street photography. Indeed, sometimes you don’t want to ask permission to shoot on the streets; otherwise, you won’t capture the unique moments that truly define street photography.

However, it’s a good idea to ask before you start shooting street portraits. This is an area that can be interesting.

You can also ask strangers to pose for a portrait. People love to get their pictures taken. As long as you are friendly and casual, most people will be happy.

You can also approach the mundane subjects of daily life like the waitress in a restaurant, the bellhop at a hotel or the attendant in a parking lot.

7. Respectful

Every street photographer must know how to navigate this gray area.

How acceptable it is to photograph homeless people. Street photographers may avoid taking photos of the homeless, while others focus on documenting difficult living conditions.

I wouldn’t say I like to photograph people who seem too down on their luck. While I believe there are some beautiful images of homeless people that can generate awareness and support, many photos are just plain exploitative. You might think of the cliché photo of a homeless man begging for money, lying on the street. This photo may not look real or interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t take it.

Before you hit the shutter, think about the message you want to send. Do you want to raise awareness about the terrible conditions many homeless people live in? Are you simply taking photos of homeless people to increase your portfolio or build awareness? It is best to put down your camera and decide what you want to do if the former.

8. Seek out juxtaposition

I believe juxtaposition makes street photography unique and interesting. Street photography can communicate everyday life’s humor, irony, and beauty by carefully using juxtaposition.

It is possible to combine two elements not in harmony – such as a subject and their environment or two subjects – and then place them in the same frame.

A few quick juxtaposition tips:

  • Signs with interesting messages may be found near you that contradict the beliefs of those who are nearby.
  • Keep an eye out for human heads that appear to have been displaced by street lamps or other objects such as street lamps.
  • Two people should be compared if they have different heights, skin tones, or weights.
  • It would be best to look for people who display a variety of emotions.

Contrast doesn’t always have to make sense. While some juxtapositions convey a clear message, others highlight the absurdity in life.

9. Tell a story

Most street photographers start just trying to capture people in the streets. But as you get more experience, add some narrative to your photos.

Imagine that you are a movie director and you want to create an engaging film. What are the principal actors? Your background? What are the interactions between the major actors? What emotions are you trying to convey?

Images that tell stories are the ones that stick with the viewer the most. The most memorable images are those that are so vivid and evocative that viewers return to them over and over again.

When you have the chance, tell a story through your photos!

10. Could you do it?

This is my final tip, and it’s an essential point to remember:

You have to go out and shoot street photography to become a street photographer. Although street photography techniques can be helpful, photography cannot be done on a computer screen. No matter how difficult it may seem, you have to get out there and begin capturing the world.

Grab a DSLR, point and shoot camera, smartphone or disposable film camera and hit the streets. You don’t want to miss out on the beauty of the world.

Street photography tips: Final words

Street photography is about capturing the world. So forget your fears and smile, and get out there! These street photography tips and tricks were hopefully helpful.

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