Street Photography: Complete Guide with Street Photography Tips and Tricks

Are you attracted to street photography? Is street photography one of the photographic disciplines that most fascinates you? Congratulations reader friend, you are in the right place, because today I bring you a mega guide where I bring you all the tips, tricks and secrets to launch yourself on the street with a camera in hand and achieve authentic and STUNNING street photos.

Very recently I told you that the best way to learn photography is to practice street photography. You can read the reasons in the link, while I tell you that it is such a complete and fascinating genre, that if you control it, you end up dominating practically any discipline.

Therefore, whatever genre you are most interested in, I strongly recommend that you practice street photography, how? That is what we are going to see today. Take good note of everything I am going to share with you here and refer to this guide whenever you need it.


What is street photography?

street photography or street photography It is that photography that captures the human essence in relation to the urban environment in a sincere way.

It is a very general definition, and there is great controversy about what is and what is not street photography, but I will leave you with some generally accepted points of what it is and what it is not street photography:

  • It is not a prepared or posed photograph.
  • It is not necessary for a person to appear, but their footprint is, for it to be evident that a person has passed through there and has left some kind of trace.
  • It is a photograph that tells a story or conveys an emotion.

“If you can smell the street when looking at a photo, it’s street photography.”

Bruce Gilden

At first glance, street photography may seem simple. We all always carry a camera with us when we go down the street, which makes it very accessible. However, taking real street photography, a good street photo, is not that easy.

Buuuut… that’s what we’re here for! To learn, right? And to make it easier. If you follow the advice that I am going to give you throughout this guide, and practice (this is very important and I will not tire of repeating it), you will awaken the authentic street photographer that you have inside and you will get photos that will even surprise you. .

Before launching, I want to make a couple of clarifications to avoid possible and typical confusion about what is and what is not street photography.

street photography vs. documentary photography

It is possible to confuse street photography with documentary photography, however, although they share many aspects and the first can be understood as part of the second, they have clear differences.

Street photography is spontaneous, while documentary photography requires prior research to send a clear message. The first aims to excite, the second claim or denounce.

street photography vs. urban photography

For many years they have been the same, however, in recent times a new photographic style has emerged that makes a distinction and separation necessary in order not to confuse the true concept of street photography, it is urban photography that responds more to Photography in the street than to photography of street.

In street photography, what is important is not the story or the emotion, but the technique and aesthetics. In addition, urban photography is based on prepared photographs, while street photography implies that it be a candid, spontaneous photograph, without any intervention. Do not scratch yourself, yes, there will be photographs that can be understood as both street and urban photos, but others in which the difference is very evident.

How and where to photograph the street

I have already told you that the street photography It is done in urban environments. What I haven’t told you yet is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the street. can be done street photographs in public spaces such as stations, transport, restaurants, shopping centers, etc.

The fundamental premise, I insist, is that they be spontaneous photographs, where there is no intervention in the scene, that there is nothing prepared or manipulated. And that it is not an isolated detail or portrait that does not tell anything related to the street.

It is important to transmit the sensations of what is happening, capture the atmosphere and manage to transmit noises, smells, temperature and everything that has to do with the senses beyond sight.

Equipment for street photography

Do you want to know a secret? The street photographer’s equipment is the simplest you can put on your face. Seriously, a camera (with a lens, of course) is enough for you.

and you can do street photography with any camera. That easy. In this discipline, as I have told you, it is more important to transmit an emotion than to achieve an impeccable technique. It doesn’t matter if you photograph with a mobile phone or with a latest model full frame SLR. It matters that you capture the essence of the street, that emotions, that you stir the viewer, that they feel the photo in their guts. If you are able to do it with a mobile, nothing prevents you.

Although as I will tell you later, it is essential to go unnoticed, so it is advisable to wear discreet equipment, as well as light, so that you can spend hours walking without your neck and back suffering the consequences.

But of course, we already know each other, surely you want me to tell you more, especially if you are thinking what camera to buy

We have for you this special article with the recommended equipment for the street photographer in which we recommend what objectives use for street photography, we talk about the photographic accessories that make your life easier and that can save you a lot of frustration (if you click on the link you will discover them, but you will also see that they are the most basic) and a series of cameras recommended especially for street . If you want a general idea, for the street photography the most recommended are cameras EVIL or without a mirror, because they are more compact and quiet, among other advantages.

The secrets of street photography

To immerse yourself in this genre and discover the secrets of the street photography First-hand, you can’t miss our Guest Author article where street photographer David Fidalgo reveals his tricks to becoming a ninja of the street.

Tips for photographing the street

Finally one of the points that you were waiting for with more impatience arrives, am I wrong? Let’s go to the mess that I have a lot of things to tell you, but let me first tell you something very important. There are two fundamental aspects that you must master to take good street photography: lighting and composition. I insist, fundamental. In the links you will find very complete guides on each one of them, so that you can delve into them and apply the knowledge learned on the street. Also, some tips that I talk about below are related to light and composition.

But let’s continue with the rest of the tips. As we have already talked about the team, I take it for granted and I only remind you of two words: discreet and light 😉 .

  1. Discretion. I know, I’m very heavy with this. But it is really important that you are discreet so as not to interfere in the scene and capture it honestly, as it is happening. And not only regarding the team. For this, it is important that your attitude and your clothing be as discreet as possible. Nothing to go with a fluorescent orange shirt that makes you be the center of attention.
  2. Respect. Avoid capturing demeaning images and if someone gets upset because you photograph them (it rarely happens) smile and apologize, also delete the photo if they ask you to.
  3. Take your camera in hand and not hanging around your neck, or you’ll miss more than one snapshot. You will also go more unnoticed with it in your hand than hanging from it.
  4. Pay attention to the light. Depending on the light, a story or a scene can change completely. The sensations caused by a hard light have nothing to do with a diffuse light. Go out at different times of the day, from dawn to darkest night. Observe the changes in light and how it affects the scenes. Take the necessary notes, maybe one day you want to return to a specific place looking for a specific light.
  5. Make a good composition. I have also told you how important it is to take care of the composition to achieve an interesting photograph, which attracts and catches the eye beyond a nanosecond.
  1. Look for scenarios that say something. We are talking about street photography, so the stage is a co-star. A good place will help you contextualize and build the story.
  2. History and emotion. A street photograph without one or both of these ingredients is not a street photograph. We have prepared tips for adding emotion to an image and another article so you know how to take narrative photography.
  3. Look for interesting subjects but remember to photograph them within the context and not as an isolated portrait, but simply a portrait.
  4. Capture gestures and expressions that speak for themselves. A look can be the absolute protagonist of your image. Pay attention to what is happening around you.
  5. Do not copy. It is easy to fall into the temptation of reproducing those images that impact us but it is a mistake, in addition to the fact that plagiarism is neither ethical nor legal. Try to capture the scenes with your unique and personal look. That does not mean that you do not photograph reflections, silhouettes, juxtapositions, contrasts, backlights, details, light and shadow games, humorous scenes, lines, geometries, etc., these are themes and resources that work very well despite being the typical clichés, but that and you can make them yours if you capture them from your gaze and not from someone else’s.
  6. Make the viewer wonder. If you get that, no doubt your image works. Creating ambiguity, surprise or making the audience wonder how the hell you took that photo is the icing on the cake.
  7. try to go out every day with a different lens or to shoot with a single focal length. Over time you will discover which focal length you feel most comfortable with.
  8. Go out with an idea in your head. It’s not something you should always do, but going out with an idea in mind will help you stay alert on the subject and focus your efforts. For example, you can go out looking for scenes that convey a specific emotion (loneliness, nostalgia, insecurity, enthusiasm) or a type of subject, such as men with hats. That said, they are just examples or ideas. Think of something that motivates you to put the focus on your next outing.
  9. In the evening. At night the circumstances and stories change, the city seems a different one and although it seems that it is no longer the time due to the lack of light, it is not like that. Take advantage of the light from street lamps, shop windows, car lights, advertising canopies and any other point of light that helps you illuminate the scene to capture the essence of the night. I assure you that you can achieve high-impact snapshots.
  10. Give it a title. Try to title your…