What Is Street Photography?

“Street photography” is an interesting term to define. Some say it is only allowed in urban environments, while others believe you can take any type of photograph anywhere at anytime!

Many consider street photographs to be more about capturing light and emotion than telling a story or creating compositions. Others associate the word “street” with unsafe conditions or even illegal activity.

Overall though, most people agree that a good street photo must convey one thing: creativity. You have to use creative techniques and settings to create a vibrant image.

This article will discuss some basics of taking street photos and then move onto discussing how to improve your own street photography skills.

The location of street photography

what is street photography

Many people consider street photos to be about taking pictures in busy areas or streets with lots of cars, buildings, and activity. While that is definitely an important part of street photography, it’s not the only thing you can do. You don’t have to shoot at night or in urban environments to make street photography your own style.

Instead of looking for inspiring candid moments, try experimenting more with interesting compositions and backgrounds. Use textures, patterns, and shades to add depth and dimension to your images. Add some blur if needed to create a dreamy effect.

Don’t feel like you need very close proximity to capture something beautiful either. Get closer than usual, but still use good sense when photographing around others.

The time of day for street photography

 

When it comes to choosing your location, there is one main thing that makes or breaks a good picture – timing!

Street shooting at night can be tricky as not only does nature help with light, other things like cars, people, and materials such as billboards require special permission and safety precautions.

Daytime pictures are much easier to take since you do not have to worry about darkness nor restrictions on exposure. However, most people are in gear up from dawn ’til dusk so there may not be many opportunities to capture spontaneous moments.

Equipment for street photography

what is street photography

When talking about street shooting, what kind of equipment you have really matters. There are two main types of gear that most professional street photographers use: either wide-angle or normal lens cameras with apertures starting at f/2.8 and going up to f/11!

The reason why this is so important is because wider lenses give you more room to work in and longer exposures allow you to capture faster moving subjects.

Wide angle lenses also distort your photos slightly by compressing the frame, which can make it interesting to add some abstract patterns into your images! This article will talk about some great street photography camera brands and how they fit into our genre.

Camera bodies such as Nikon’s DX format range start at around 600 dollars and go all the way up to 4500 dollars! The expensive part comes down to sensor size and megapixels, but overall quality is quite similar across all models.

Understanding the culture

what is street photography

As we have seen, street photography is not about having a longer lens or being in stealth mode with your camera. It is not even necessarily about taking pictures outside of known locations either. Rather, it is creating photos that make you feel something, motivate you to do something, or both.

Thinking about it this way makes sense because many great street photographs are almost impossible to take without knowing what motivates someone or how people interact with each other.

By incorporating these into your own style, you will find yourself naturally doing so.

There are many ways to add depth to your street photography by exploring different cultures, environments, and types of subjects. Doing so can help you hone your craft and create some beautiful work!

Here are five easy tips for becoming a better street photographer through cultural exploration.

Being aware of your surroundings

what is street photography

As we mentioned before, street photographers usually do not have a formal photography education or training. However, that does not mean they are not professional level artists!

Many urban photogs spend hours outside shooting pictures of everything from bustling streets to busy sidewalks. By being present during these times, you will add some great photographs to your collection.

The best way to start exploring this art form is by simply having an open mind. You do not need special equipment to take good photos in the city either.

A smartphone with good quality photo taking apps can get you started quickly. There are many free applications available as well as paid ones- it depends on whether you want very basic features or more advanced settings.

Avoiding harassment

what is street photography

One of the biggest things that can get in the way of you taking good street photography is being harassed or asked to stop what you are doing for not letting people shoot pictures. This could be due to your camera equipment, the setting you have chosen to take photos in, or even just because someone does not like how you style yourself.

There is an average of about 10 instances per year where a person was recorded asking another photographer to stop taking photographs in public places. In these cases it is usually because they do not want their personal image or brand spoiled by others.

This may sound ridiculous but it happens all too often!

If this ever happened to you, try to avoid getting angry as this will only make it worse and potentially hurt relationships. Instead respond with “OK” or simply say something neutral such as “have a nice day” and walk away.

Street photographers should also know that there are legal ways to ask someone to keep down noise levels while shooting. These include using a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second at most and limiting exposure to ISO 800-1600.

Learning to be patient

what is street photography

A lot of people consider street photography to be only about being in busy places with interesting light or chasing down strangers for candid portraits, but that is not quite what it means. Having a passion for street photography actually comes from being more patient than usual when taking pictures.

There are many ways to add depth to your street photography skills by practicing different types of shots and styles. Some examples include: exploring new areas, experimenting with shutter speeds, looking at life through lenses that are not necessarily professional quality, and incorporating yourself into everyday scenes. All of these can be done without having to go out onto the streets!

When you do decide to venture outside, try to keep an open mind as to what will make an interesting picture. Willing to explore other genres gives you newer inspiration to use in your own style.

Taking photos of people

People are one of humanity’s greatest attractions, so capturing their likenesses and expressions for photography is very enjoyable. Professional street photographers have elaborate equipment that allows them to capture beautiful pictures at any time and place, but your experience can be much different!

There are many ways to take good photographs of people. Some say casual photogenic shooting is the most effective, while others believe there’s no such thing as bad photographic opportunities when taking portraits.

Whatever approach you choose to use, remember that your goal should not only be to get great shots, but also to inspire an audience to look into the camera and enjoy the picture.

When doing group studies or individual portraits, make sure your potential subject knows what to expect from you. Will they need to pose? How long will you ask them to remain still for?

Also, don’t hesitate to ask if anyone would like some water or another item such as a cigarette or lighter. Not everyone feels comfortable in their skin-tight clothes and without something to hold onto, someone could accidentally walk away with nothing but a blurry image.

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Benjamin Coleman

About the Author: Benjamin Coleman

I am a graduate of the University of Miami, where I studied Marketing. I hold an MBA from the University of Maryland. I currently live in South Florida, but am originally from New Jersey. I am a writer/editor/proofreader/seo consultant who focuses on social media, SEO, and web content. I also help businesses understand and implement social media marketing.

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