19 Killer Street Photography Tips

Since the majority of the submitted photoblogs we receive are related to street photography, dream new york cityI felt that providing “19 Killer Street Photography Tips” from a variety of street photographers would be welcomed information. This list of tips was compiled based on some of the most popular questions viewers have written in about, which include topics, such as: Best digital camera for street photography, street portrait photography ideas, street photography gear, point shoot street photography, basic street photography tips and tricks. Hope you enjoy the post and be sure to visit each of the photographers mentioned.

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Review these great books on Street Photography

What exactly is street photography?

I’ve always seen my role as street photographer a little in the guise of a nutty guy wearing a straw boater, chasing butterflies at a leisurely nineteenth century picnic using a long net fixed to a short pole. The pure collecting element of the process is not to be underestimated. And yes, street photographers are attempting to make; art, document a time and a place, or give us an ironic chuckle – however to reach this end point, they must first collect. I would suggest that people who enjoy the ‘collecting’ hobbies or pastimes such as; stamps, coins, cats etc – invariably house a much higher proportion of socially reserved, or shy individuals within their ranks.

I know that in my case; the continual collection of photographs from the streets, the chase for images, pictures with a poetic and understated vein of pathos, so elusive as to hardly warrant more than nonchalant attention in a sane man’s world. Yet a routine now spanning a quarter of a century which has helped give a certain structure to my life: underpinning all other facets of me. -The process itself is a; discipline most valuable, a humbling quest … a reason. read more from Andrew Stark photographer

What is the best lens for street photography?

“I personally like to use a wide lens (24mm, 28mm, 35mm on full frame 35mm) to be pretty close to my subject and get that intimate look of my photos. It took me a while to get closer, so I’d suggest to start with maybe a 75mm or 50mm lens to keep some distance and get closer from there…” read more about Markus Hartel

no rules street photography tips

How can I learn to take great street photography?

“I probably spend more time looking at photographs than I do actually taking them. My shelves at home are lined with photography books. The work of the so-called master photographers – and the less heralded – have always been a source of reassurance and stimulation for my own photography.”

“Photographers such as Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mario Giacomelli, Robert Frank, Sylvia Plachy and Tony Ray-Jones, to name but a few. The list is endless and always open to change…” read more from David Gibson

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“I think that a good street photo requires both precision and chance. What I pay attention to is not accidental, yet there is a certain amount of fate that must be injected – usually at the last moment – for a street photo to work. So my normal practice is to walk around with a few cameras and a rough sense of expectation but I never know exactly what I will photograph.” read more from Blake Andrews

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“Photography for me is not a profession, but it is not a mere hobby, either. It is the way to see the world – by world I mostly mean its human race – and also communicate what I see. Composition is less important to me than emotion, and the more fleeting and subtle the emotion is, the better. That’s what photography is for, no?…” read more from Lev Tsimring

What are the best places to shoot street photography?

“As crowding increases, people’s personal space requirement decreases. Also, the space one needs and expects is culturally dependent. In some countries people naturally stand, talk and touch each other in public to a closer degree than in others. But there are general unspoken rules. Get too close, “In your face” — as the saying goes, and people get nervous, even if they don’t know exactly why.”

“At a fair, a midway at a carnival, a sports event, parade, concert or public ceremony, people’s need for personal space and therefore privacy is reduced. The level of sensory stimulation is also usually high at these events, which tends to reduce the need for space. As well, in most of these situations people are having fun so they are more relaxed.” read more from Michael Reichmann

street studio photography

How do I deal with photographing strangers?

“Photographing strangers is probably one of the most challenging aspects of street photography.

While everybody agrees candid shots are the best deal in street photography, secretly photographing people raises a moral difficulty and should therefore be avoided.

Normally the street photographer aims for authentic looking snaps without her getting involved in any way, or changing the nature of the scene. Nevertheless, sneaking on individuals and secretly photographing them is a questionable practice and not only will provide street photography with a paparazzi-like reputation, you might also find yourself in a delicate position if you are discovered.”

“Asking people for permission to photograph them might not always be the best choice either:
It is a well known fact when positioning the camera in front of them, people tend to drop everything they were previously doing, fix their hair, smile and stare at the camera…it may take some practice but in no time you can become a fast shooter. It worked in the Wild West and it can work for you.”
read more from Nitsa

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“I try to be invisible,” Ms. Cherry says. Thin and white-haired, clad in jeans and sneakers, she pretty much blends into the street. “Once somebody sees you, everything changes. You don’t get what you’re looking at.”

When somebody catches her eye, Cherry doesn’t hesitate. She explains wryly that if that person calls out, “‘Don’t take my picture!’ I just say, ‘I didn’t.’ And I walk away.” read more about Vivian Cherry

What camera do you use for street photography?

“I use a Leica MP with a 35mm f1.4 Leica Summilux lens.” read more from Matt Stuart

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“I’ve gone through two big leaps in my experience with digital cameras. The first was when I moved up from a point-and-shoot to a digital SLR (the Nikon D70). Using the camera suddenly became much more transparent, thanks to the through-the-lens viewfinder, the instantaneous on, the instantaneous shutter release, and the improved control. I was no longer frustrated: fidgeting, twiddling, making up for the camera’s limitations. Taking a photo became far more natural.”

“And the second leap occurred when I acquired the Nikon D700. Its full-frame sensor and the sensor’s new low-light capability bring a change I didn’t expect….”

“The D700 is the most transparent camera I’ve ever used — and that includes the 35mm film SLRs that I’ve used since the late 1960s.” read more from Joe’s NYC

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“Photographers often want to know this. I have taken great pictures with a $90 Canonet (had one of the sharpest lenses I ever owned) and lousy pictures with more expensive equipment. Whether you are shooting with the latest digital camera, or a pinhole camera, it’s the mind and heart behind the camera that matters.” read more from Dave Beckerman.

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“Most of these images were taken with a Canon EOS SLR system. The rest were done with a Minolta Freedom Zoom Explorer point & shoot camera…” read more from Philip Greenspun.

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“Brian shoots with an assortment of equipment including: Pentax digital and film SLR cameras and Mamiya medium format cameras.” read more from Brian Ramnath.

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“All images shot with a Leica M9 and 50 Noctiux 0.95…” read more from Steve Huff

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“The images on this blog are primarily shot on the Canon EOS 1 ds mk2 and some are shot on the Canon PowerShot SD550 both of which I think are great in their own way.” read more from Jezblog

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“I currently use a Canon Rebel Xti, though I also carry around a little Canon Powershot SD800 is for candids and the unexpected…” read more about Craig Martin

What’s your take on photographing street people?

“In my street photography class, I encourage my students by saying that all things are photographable in any way. And this is true. I encourage my students, as well as myself, to go out into the world with camera in hand and no preconceptions that could interfere with openness to taking pictures.”

“But I have one exception to that anti-rule, and that’s street people. I feel that photographing them in their poverty is taking advantage of their difficult situation, and that they are not necessarily there voluntarily. Since for many people sleeping on the street it is their “home,” I feel it can be argued that photographing them is an invasion of the little privacy that they have. So, I do not go out of my way to photograph them. In addition to the moral issues surrounding photographing street people, they’re too easy to photograph. Where else are they going to go?” read more from Mason Resnick

Does street photography have to be in black and white?

“Like many of the photographers I’ve admired over the years I initially did all of my street photography in black and white. I soon realised however that in order to differentiate myself from my predecessors, it would be better if I worked in colour. There were a few notable colour photographers such as Joel Meyerowitz, Alex Webb and Martin Parr whom I admired but I felt my style of work was more akin to the previously mentioned people.”

Working in London may not seem by most visitors conducive to good colour street photography, and indeed it certainly doesn’t have anything like the beautiful light that say Brazil has. But with such an infinite variety of colourful characters in an ever changing cityscape, it has become in recent times as synonymous with street work as Paris and New York were in their heyday. read more from David Solomons photographer

What are your inspirations?

“Though there are many, I always come back to Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Lee Friedlander, and Robert Frank. They’ve done the kind of work that I wish I did. And often think about doing.”

“And though I enjoy the work of a long and growing list of photo- bloggers/graphers, there are a few friends that directly influence my compositions or the thoughts behind them: Raul Gutierrez, Joseph Holmes, Michael David Murphy, and Peter Ross.” read more from Rion Nakaya

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