47 Powerful Urban Photos With Tips On How to Take Your Own


Urban places are busy and have a lot going on at all times. This makes it a great place to capture amazing photographs of the street scenes, which is essentially the life happening in urban spaces, but candids, so the people are not aware that they are being photographed. Besides people, there are so many other elements and subjects in urban locations that are interesting subjects for photography if observed closely, and some creative thought is put into it.

Here are some urban street photos, along with a few quick tips to capture stunning photos when you are in an urban location next time.

1. Light

Light plays a huge role in photography, and it applies when capturing urban spaces. The golden and blue hour, along with overcast days, are great for urban photography.


Although urban spaces can look stunning during the golden and blue hour, you can wisely choose perspectives and subjects to capture urban photographs during the day as well, including midday. Look for directions of light, how they illuminate the subject, and the shadows they cast, and try to avoid clipping details, especially highlights, unless they are necessary to make the photo. Contrasty images are possible during midday, and this mood and atmosphere cannot be achieved if you shoot when the sunlight is soft or golden.

street photography bird's perspective
Photo by Aurelien Romain

If shot from the right angle and perspective, you can capture beautiful silhouettes by backlighting your subject using hard light.

backlighting black and white
Photo by Jeffrey Grospe

Golden Hour

The long shadows and the soft golden light are the highlights of photos captured during the golden hour. You are in for some dramatic photos if you look carefully and capture the shots from the correct vantage point, angle, etc.

golden hour street
Photo by Szymon Fischer 
golden hour city
Photo by Francesca Albert
people walking golden light
Photo by Robert Tjalondo

Blue Hour

After sunset, the ambient light has a deep blue shade and will contrast perfectly with the warm lights from the buildings. Use this opportunity to capture interesting street scenes and urban photographs.

blue hour and artificial lights
Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi 
gold over the horizon
Photo by Karsten Winegeart
busy urban street
Photo by Leo Okuyama

2. Reflections

If during or after the rain, you walk along the streets, especially in urban areas, you will come across puddles that have interesting reflections that may sometimes even look abstract. Besides, there are reflections in buildings, mirrors, and others that can be photographed uniquely in urban spaces.

reflections skater
Photo by Chris Stein
reflections black and white
Photo by Rohan Rangaswami 
street after rain
Photo by Benjamin Suter 
cyclist puddles
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

3. Compositions

Compositional guidelines that can be used to capture street scenes are many. Starting from the rule of thirds to symmetry, frames, reflections, contrast, juxtaposition, lines, geometry, and so on, the possibilities are endless, and you will find something unique in every frame. Use these or a combination of these compositional guidelines to capture interesting urban photos.


Look for interesting frames through which you can shoot your subject or use it to frame your subject. Frames are everywhere in an urban space. You can even use light and shadows to frame your subject.

frames shadows
Photo by Rene Böhmer
subway window
Photo by Konstantine Trundayev
triangle passer by
Photo by Kasper Rasmussen

Light And Shadows

light and shadows passer by
Photo by Hongmei Zhao
bicycle street
Photo by Marc Kleen

Instead of photographing the person/subject, try a different way to capture the subject – their shadow.

shadow yellow wall
Photo by Oliver Cole


Use lines to lead the viewer's eye to the subject or frame the subject.

subway entrance
Photo by Adam Borkowski
purple hall passer by
Photo by Tom Parkes

4. Architecture

Architecture is the main attraction in most urban spaces. You can go wide and shoot an entire structure or zoom in and capture the closer details or abstracts. Look for colors, contrast, shapes, forms, patterns, geometry, etc., when shooting architecture. You can also use a human element or more to show scale or use the juxtaposition to deliver a message interestingly.

architecture perspective
Photo by FLY:D 
warm light architecture
Photo by Andres Molina 
minimal composition blue panels
Photo by Victor 
colorful balconies
Photo by Ruslan Bardash
blue and white minimal composition
Photo by daniel faro 

5. Capture Details

Every street and urban space across the world is unique. You find interestingly different things in places that truly have something to do with that particular location. Interestingly capture these details, and if possible, try to include the surrounding areas a bit to give a sense of location.

street view details
Photo by Andrew Butler
crossing street sign
Photo by Aedrian
street clock details
Photo by Frank Holleman

6. Include Lines

Lines can be found everywhere in urban spaces. Sometimes there are too many boring lines that can be broken and made interesting with the help of an element or subject. For example, too many horizontal lines can be broken using a vertical or diagonal subject and it will add a lot of interest to an otherwise static frame or scene.

stairway graffiti
Photo by Miguel Carraça
crosswalk urban area
Photo by Ryoji Iwata
man walking empty street
Photo by David Lee

7. Long Exposure

Long exposure in street photography may sound unusual, but it is a great way to show movement and add a dynamic mood to an image. You can capture long exposures of vehicles, traffic lights, or people, depending on the story you are trying to capture.

During the day, you may need an ND filter to capture long exposures in the street, and during the blue hour or night, you can lengthen the shutter speed to capture movement. Keep your camera stationary to get sharp photos, and also remember long exposure can add an intriguing mood to the photos.

blue skies
Photo by FLY:D
train passing by
Photo by Carina Sze
new york busy street
Photo by Denys Nevozhai
passer by metro station
Photo by Csaba Pap
long exposure train station
Photo by Sawyer Bengtson
passer by black and white
Photo by masahiro miyagi

8. Silhouettes

Silhouettes, if captured well, can add a lot of drama and interest to an image. You will need to backlight your subject, which means you will need to shoot into the light to capture interesting silhouettes.

Look for relevant compositions to capture powerful silhouettes in urban locations. You can also frame them interestingly, for example, with light and shadows, for meaningful and stunning results.

Photo by Giorgio Grani 
black and white silhouette
Photo by Bulkan Evcimen
passer by at night
Photo by Szabolcs Toth

9. Street Scenes

Capturing street scenes in urban spaces, although quite challenging, can be executed with some practice and by learning to remain discreet as a photographer. Most of the photographs are candids, but if you are someone who can approach strangers, share a smile and learn a bit about them, then you can capture posed street photos that bring out the subject's personality.

Learn to isolate frames or subjects in order to bring focus to the main part of the scene. It is not only people but birds and animals that make up an urban space. Look for details as you walk around and capture all the interesting frames that you can. In scenes where there are quick actions, use burst mode so that you can select the best frame later.

passer by street lights
Photo by Adam Borkowski
telephone street rain
Photo by Josh Hild 

Culture And Traditions

When in a different location or country, try to photograph locals and capture frames that show the local culture and traditions. This is what makes photographs interesting.

yellow walls
Photo by Thong Vo
japanese umbrella
Photo by Tianshu Liu


Do not always shoot from eye level. Try different perspectives and angles to show more of a scene and story. A higher or lower vantage point and a different angle can make a huge difference to an ordinary photo.

bird's perspective metro
Photo by takahiro taguchi

Look For Interesting Scenes

Frame your subjects through interesting things or look at them differently. This will help to make a normal frame more engaging.

dog in the window
Photo by Fotis Fotopoulos

Play With Light And Shadows

There will be a lot of opportunities to play with light and shadows in an urban setting. Light from in between buildings, shadows of buildings and other architectural structures, and the geometry created by them will all help with capturing unique urban street scenes.

creative shot with shadow
Photo by Fernando Rodrigues

We hope these simple tips will help you to get out and capture some interesting frames in urban areas. This can be taken up as a challenge when you are running out of ideas because street scenes are different every day, and the people you come across will be different. Practice the art of seeing things differently, and you are sure to capture some stunning urban photographs.

Further Resources:

About Author

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

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