Take a prime lens, set the aper­ture from 7 to 11, ISO in auto mode — novice street pho­tog­ra­phers know these basic truths. But in street pho­tog­ra­phy, the tech­ni­cal side is not more impor­tant than the cre­ative side. Inge­nu­ity, imag­i­na­tion, fan­ta­sy are more impor­tant than the qual­i­ty of the image detail. We col­lect­ed 12 life hacks with which street pho­tos will be trans­formed.

The genre of street pho­tog­ra­phy lives by its own laws. Pho­to: www.unsplash.com

Use manual focus

Depend­ing on the accu­ra­cy of aut­o­fo­cus when the sub­ject is approach­ing is unwise. There may not be a sec­ond chance to catch a shot. Set the focus man­u­al­ly to 1.5–2 meters — and shoot. This will make it eas­i­er and faster to shoot.

Aper­ture f / 8‑f / 16 will increase sharp­ness, the blur­ry effect will not appear at shut­ter speeds no slow­er than 1/250. ISO can be increased to 1600 or 3200 — in street pho­tog­ra­phy, no one is chas­ing glossy qual­i­ty.

For expres­sive shots, you need to act quick­ly and apply inge­nu­ity. Pho­to: everybodystreet.ru

Carry business cards with you

Ran­dom peo­ple always fall into the lens of a street pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Many peo­ple don’t like it. Make busi­ness cards with your data, address­es of pages in social net­works, con­tacts. Peo­ple will under­stand that you are a pho­tog­ra­ph­er, not an ene­my intel­li­gence spy. At the same time, get rid of unnec­es­sary stress and find new sub­scribers.

“Doc­u­ments” help the street pho­tog­ra­ph­er feel more con­fi­dent. Pho­to: streetsofnuremberg.com

Visit another city

Shoot­ing in an unfa­mil­iar city has two advan­tages at once:

  • More new loca­tions, images, ideas.
  • It is eas­i­er for novice street pho­tog­ra­phers to lib­er­ate them­selves in places where they have not been, where no one knows them.
In an unfa­mil­iar city, fan­ta­sy is played out in full force. Pho­to: teemusphoto.com

Take pictures by yourself, without company

Anoth­er piece of advice — sim­ple but very impor­tant — from the field of psy­chol­o­gy. Walk­ing around the city with a crowd of paparazzi is fun and excit­ing, but it will go to the detri­ment of a street pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Peo­ple around will be sus­pi­cious of the team with cam­eras — ten­sion will increase.

More expe­ri­enced com­rades will make the pho­tog­ra­ph­er ner­vous at the sight of their eval­u­a­tive opin­ion. Alone, you are more like­ly to feel your­self, the atmos­phere, the atmos­phere.

A good shot needs inspi­ra­tion. It requires soli­tude. Pho­to: passionpassport.com

Learn your camera by heart

Life hack is banal, but many begin­ner street pho­tog­ra­phers miss the basic rule. On the street there is no time to think which but­ton to press. Some­times there is no time even to release the cam­era shut­ter.

The pho­tog­ra­ph­er who blind­ly adjusts the equip­ment in a split sec­ond will always win and get a great shot. And this is the ulti­mate goal.

The dynam­ics of the street freezes only for a frac­tion of a sec­ond. It’s impor­tant to cap­ture the moment. Pho­to: photographylife.com

Experiment with angle

Tak­ing pic­tures from the height of your height is bor­ing and unin­ter­est­ing. The world is revealed in unex­pect­ed pro­jec­tions. It is worth low­er­ing the cam­era to the lev­el of the hip or the floor — and a sim­ple pic­ture is trans­formed. Shoot­ing from the hip has an added bonus: peo­ple will not imme­di­ate­ly real­ize (or not at all) that they are being pho­tographed. Yes, it is more dif­fi­cult to line up a frame, but the more prac­tice, the more suc­cess­ful pho­tos you will get.

The angle changes the feel of the pho­to. Pho­to: www.unsplash.com

Take more shots

A street pho­tog­ra­ph­er can wait 5, 10, 20 min­utes or even sev­er­al hours for a good shot. But when the com­po­si­tion devel­ops, he will take 3, 5, 9 shots — as many as the cam­era and the sit­u­a­tion will allow. More pho­tos — more room for error — more mate­r­i­al for analy­sis. Street shoot­ing is not an art house where every­thing is shot in one take. Don’t be afraid to clog your mem­o­ry card. The 36-frame rule that exist­ed on old film before the DSLR era is no longer rel­e­vant.

Spe­cial accents, strokes, pos­es are impor­tant. Find­ing them is eas­i­er when there is a choice. Pho­to: www.unsplash.com

Break patterns

Bright sun­light and sol­id shad­ows are taboo for a clas­sic pho­to. But street pho­tog­ra­phy is not for con­ser­v­a­tives. Use the sun and shad­ows, change the angle and go beyond the rules, use flash — this is what street art lives and breathes. The black details in the pho­to open up a new per­spec­tive on form and con­tent.

In street pho­tog­ra­phy, the main thing is fan­ta­sy, not laws. Pho­to: takefoto.ru

Make bad weather your ally

When it’s pour­ing down the street, like from a buck­et, when fog envelops the hori­zon, you don’t want to go out. Expe­ri­enced street pho­tog­ra­phers immerse them­selves in the thick of atmos­pher­ic phe­nom­e­na. They know that rain, snow, wind and haze are a rich dra­ma, a strong effect for street pho­tos.

Put on a rain­coat, car­ry an umbrel­la with one hand — and take pic­tures of reflec­tions in pud­dles, wet peo­ple, objects stuck in the fog. Nature itself gives the com­po­si­tion.

Sky and earth, water and fog — street pho­tog­ra­phy breathes nature. Pho­to: www.unsplash.com

Combine artificial and natural light

Dur­ing sun­set, the sky turns into soft pas­tel col­ors. This palette, com­bined with arti­fi­cial street lights, forms mes­mer­iz­ing col­or com­po­si­tions. If you love evening pho­tog­ra­phy, add a cou­ple of these shots to your port­fo­lio.

A cock­tail of sun­set sky and elec­tric lights will delight. Pho­to: photographytalk.com

Minimize distraction

If you need to cap­ture a unique object or per­son in the pic­ture, there should be no dis­tract­ing ele­ments in the frame. When shoot­ing, always look at the edges of the frame more than at the cen­ter. It is at the edges that extra ele­ments usu­al­ly appear.

Street pho­tog­ra­phy can turn an object into a page of his­to­ry. Pho­to: nicoharoldphotography.com

Be spontaneous

Get­ting a feel for the set­ting, wait­ing for the charis­mat­ic pro­tag­o­nist and click­ing the shut­ter is a good plan. To give free rein to spon­ta­neous impuls­es and to let street life con­vey its sur­round­ings — too. Street pho­tos sur­prise even when the pho­tog­ra­ph­er does not think about the pic­ture. Do not be afraid to impromp­tu and impro­vise.

In unex­pect­ed pho­tos there is a lot of nat­ur­al and frank. Pho­to: largerfamilylife.com

Don’t chase faces

Faces, emo­tions, pro­file and full face are not includ­ed in the manda­to­ry check­list of street pho­tog­ra­phy. Use dif­fer­ent meth­ods. Find a per­son and take a pho­to from the back, cre­at­ing a sto­ry. Let the char­ac­ter be unusu­al­ly dressed or combed.

A woman in red in the midst of graf­fi­ti-paint­ed hous­es is a good com­po­si­tion for a street pho­to. Pho­to: photographylife.com

Work with silhouettes

The fig­ure, the back­light, the adjust­ed expo­sure — and here the mag­ic of the black sil­hou­ette is born in the pic­ture. Wait for the char­ac­ter to pose or get into char­ac­ter and you’ll be sur­prised how deep and fun sil­hou­ette street pho­tos can be.

In street pho­tog­ra­phy, there are many ways to get an orig­i­nal shot. Pho­to: photographylife.com

Respect the rules of decency and be polite

It is always eas­i­er to ask per­mis­sion from a per­son than to prove to him your right to shoot on the street. Con­flicts and bad mood will affect the qual­i­ty of the shots. If you are film­ing with­out the knowl­edge of a per­son, but he sud­den­ly noticed you, smile. Ask to be an object. If a per­son refus­es, try a move with a busi­ness card or delete the pho­to. And do not for­get: accord­ing to the law, you can not shoot every­where.

Exercises for street photographers

We have pre­pared sev­er­al sim­u­la­tor exer­cis­es that will help you improve your skills as a street pho­tog­ra­ph­er.

A pedestrian

Select a pedes­tri­an and fol­low the path he is walk­ing. Shoot not him, but what you see around — as if your pedes­tri­an is the dri­ver of a tourist bus, and you are a pas­sen­ger in it. Keep your dis­tance and do not scare your “dri­ver” with pur­suit, and if you are behind or lost sight of him, choose a new pedes­tri­an guide.

180 degrees

Every time you take what you think is a good shot, turn around and take anoth­er shot. Remem­ber, a great sto­ry might be hid­ing behind your back.


Choose a col­or that will be on each pic­ture of the series. Move from big to small — first shoot large objects, for exam­ple, a blue house, a blue car. Then move on to medi­um shots and details — a blue coat, a blue shop sign.


Who has not dreamed of man­ag­ing time as a child? With a cam­era, you can do it. Imag­ine that you are cre­at­ing frames for a fan­ta­sy film. Choose one loca­tion for your­self — so the results of the exer­cise will be more visu­al. And “freeze” the move­ment in it, as if time had stopped. Start with one or two peo­ple in the frame, so it will be eas­i­er to build a com­po­si­tion and make an inter­est­ing pho­to. Then grad­u­al­ly increase the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants for whom time “stops”.


Street pho­tog­ra­phy will require skills and knowl­edge of the basic laws of pho­tog­ra­phy. But in the niche of street pho­tog­ra­phy, fan­ta­sy and orig­i­nal­i­ty are val­ued high­er. You can com­pen­sate for the lack of expe­ri­ence with your non-triv­ial vision and tal­ent. Street pho­tog­ra­phy for­gives almost every­thing, except for the stereo­typed approach. Choose the best street cam­era and get cre­ative.