Countless photographers and photography critics have engaged in lively debates about the precise definition of street photography. There are those who think of street photography as occurring primarily in an urban setting; others feel that street photography must include human subjects. These are ultimately inconsequential distinctions if we simply state that street photography is photography that takes place in public spaces.
Photo by Giuseppe Milo
Instead of focusing too narrowly on what street photography is or isn’t, any aspiring street photographer would do well to concentrate on how to create images that stand out in some way from what everyone else is doing.
So how do you make your street photos more interesting? The following ideas should get your creative juices flowing and provide a foundation for you to build upon.
Don’t be Deterred by Bad Weather
Given a choice, most people would stay indoors when the weather is anything but ideal; but if you’re looking for a way to make your street photos stand apart from everyone else’s, then don’t avoid bad weather. Elements such as rain, fog, or snow can instantly turn a would-be run-of-the-mill image into something quite impressive.
Search for Gold
Some street photographers choose to go out and shoot during the busiest times of day, thereby increasing the chances of coming across a memorable scene. But you can take a slightly different approach and go out according to the rising and setting of the sun — approximately an hour after sunrise or before sunset to be a bit more specific. These “golden hours” provide a softer, warmer light that casts long shadows. This can certainly add a welcome twist to your street images.
Photo by Sebastián
Chase the Shadows
Speaking of shadows — no matter what time of day, shadows can be used to add mystery and drama to a photo.
Photo by Magdalena Roeseler
Proximity can be a make or break factor in street photography. If you subscribe to the ideology of Robert Capa, you will understand that “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you are not close enough.” This, of course, takes many photographers well out of their comfort zone, as most have no desire to obnoxious or intrusive. Just how close you get to your subjects is up to you and, to some degree, will hinge on your choice of lens. But never underestimate how far good natured human interaction can get you — thank the person whose space you’ve invaded, give them a smile, have a chat.
Vary Your Perspective and Play with Composition
It’s perfectly acceptable to experiment with street photography; don’t get boxed into conventions or get trapped in the habit of shooting everything head-on at eye level.
Shoot from above.
Shoot from ground level.
Photo by John Ragai
Experiment with composition.
Photo by Giuseppe Milo
Crafting street photos that are a cut above the rest isn’t difficult; it just takes a little forethought and a willingness to break the rules. The tips presented here are simply a starting point for making photos reflect your creativity and the way you see the world around you.