5 Tips How to Shoot Street Photography With a Full-Time Job

"Lost in Thought"

"Lost in Thought" - Shot near my workplace.

Recently Neal Bingham, one of the moderators and admins for the Aspiring Street Photographers Flickr group I started asked me to write an article about how I shoot street photography  with a full-time job. I thought it would be a great topic to discuss, as many of us street photographers have full-time jobs while pursuing our passion and hobby on the side. Although life can often be incredibly busy, I will discuss some tips how you can always find time so how I make time to shoot street photography (even with a full-time job).

1. Always carry your camera everywhere you go

"Stilettos" Street Photography by Eric Kim

"Stilettos" - Shot in my office lobby

It is incredible how some of the best photographs I have taken were when I least expected them. Always keeping my camera by my side helps me take more images, regardless of how busy I am. Although it may be annoying and cumbersome to always have your camera by your side, it is essential if you are serious about street photography. I always keep my camera in my Timbuk 2 Commute 2.0 bag, with my padded camera insert which helps me always have my camera that doesn’t make me stick out like a sore thumb.

2. Shoot during your lunch breaks

"Three Men" - Street Photography by Eric Kim

"Three Men" - Shot at the mall close-by work

Although my schedule is hectic at work, I can always make time to shoot street photography during my lunch breaks. Street photographer Joe Wigfall from NYC even discusses holding a full-time job and shooting during his lunch break in this interview on YouTube with WNYC. (Also read my interview with him here).

Lunch breaks are always a great opportunity to shoot street photography, as you can make it a ritual and keep it consistent. For example everyday at noon, I am able to shoot about a roll of photos and capture at least one “keeper” in a day. Fortunately I also work right next to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which has a ton of foot-traffic.

3. Explore during your commute

Alex JD Smith from his "Information" project

Shot by Alex JD Smith from his "Information" project

I recently met up with LA street photographer Alex Smith, and he discussed how he often takes detours when taking his commute and simply gets out of his car and shoots. He makes it a point to leave his house 20 minutes early, which gives him an opportunity to take different routes and take photographs what interest him. And oh yeah, he holds a full-time job and makes about a 40-minute commute to his job everyday.

Regardless of how long your commute is to work, try to leave work a bit earlier and capture some street photographs in-between. Whenever we are busy and in a rush, we don’t have time to see the beauty of everyday life and listen to the music.

4. Make it a priority

"Shadows" - You can shoot street photography anywhere with a shadow

"Shadows" - You can shoot street photography anywhere with a shadow.

Regardless of how busy I get at work, I always make shooting street photography a priority. Why do I do this? Because street photography is my passion, and if I don’t make it a priority– it will simply get swept under the rug. In this modern and digital age, we are constantly bombarded with work and always busy. Therefore it is unrealistic to simply tell ourselves that we can go out and shoot “when we have some time.” This is what I believe is a sign of a street photographer who is truly serious about their craft. As Malcom Gladwell states in his book Outliers, the greatest masters have at least 10,000 hours under their belt for whatever they are working on (this equates to about 3 hours a day for a decade… you do the math).

5. Shoot after you get off work

"Mesa De Bar" - Ludmilla Morais

"Mesa De Bar" - Ludmilla Morais

When I was working full-time in Korea for a summer I shot some of my best street photographs at night after I got off work. I would simply take the bus or subway to a random location, get off, and take photographs in the neighborhood which interested me. Not only did this help break me out of my daily routine, but it also helped spur my inspiration while capturing great street photographs as well.

If you don’t have time to shoot street photography during the day, shoot during the night. Although it is convenient to shoot street photography during the day, I believe the streets truly come alive during the night. Look at the work of LA street photographer Ludmilla Morais who takes incredible street photographs at night, especially in bars (nsfw).

Do you hold a full-time job and shoot street photography? Tell us how you make time to shoot street photography by leaving a comment below!

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  • http://blog.christakisphoto.com/ Christakis Schinis

    I go during weekends. Now that days are quite large, I also go after work sometimes. During winter it wasn’t very inspiring to go after work as the sun went down way before I finished off work.

  • http://flavors.me/igobyjr JR Melton

    I held a full time job previously but never made the effort to actually make shooting a priority so I lost the passion. Over the last couple months, I’ve motivated myself to go out and shoot anything and everything to retool my imagination and find something, anything, that makes me want to shoot. It’s been a great creative outlet and one I missed for MONTHS. Now, I’m trying to find another full time job in media, all the while keeping in mind that I want to still make shooting a priority and this time around learn from the mistakes I’ve made

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nealbingham Neal Bingham

    Hey Eric, nice post, thanks for sharing your views on this. You’re spot on, we do just need to make shooting a priority! Some good tips, thanks.

  • http://www.photokismet.blogspot.com Helene

    A friend brought this to my attention and it is so timely! Sitting in an office all day, we are just itching to get outside and shoot. Great tips – thanks!

  • http://Www.kbtimages.co.uk Kevin Thornhill

    I leave home 30 mins earlier then I need too, and like you shoot at lunchtimes plus afterwork.

  • http://silentxpression.wordpress.com/ Simon Wallerstedt

    Thanks for the tips! I shoot most on the weekends but try to get out as much as I can during the week, either before or after work. Lunch break is not an option for me at my current job.

  • http://www.fokkomuller.nl fomu

    Thanks for the good advice. The last 5 months I work on a project in Paris for 3 days a weeks. After work I walk for an hour in the streets. Plenty of stuff there. At home it’s the weekends and the evenings. Make it a priority is the most important I think.

  • http://www.samsulphoto.blogspot.com samsul

    very good tips,
    I usually do on weekends, at lunchtime I could not, because I bring food from home and I ate at my desk: D,
    but I try to use as much time to do it.

    thanks for the tips

    • http://photohobbies.tumblr.com reno

      Hai Samsul, regards from Jakarta ^^. Nice blog.

  • http://www.jorgeq.com Jorge Quinteros

    Out of all the great advise you’ve given, nothing stands out more to me than when you mentioned that it “has to become a priority.” With photography being a very gear oriented craft, people generally talk more eloquently about the expensive camera they own but when you ask to see some of their work, sometimes the response is that they haven’t had time to photograph.

    Immediately my assumption is that it doesn’t have anything to do with not having time because if you truly take joy in participating in a hobby, you find a way to make time.

  • http://photosderue.net/ Marco Carbocci

    Very good and relevant article on a subject which, in spite of appearances, is far from being easy.” Make it has priority ” for me is the essential point. Full-Time Job often reduces us to be amateurs in all things: amateurs in photography, but also in family, in love, amateurs of the life. Obviously, as writer and journalist, you’ll think I’m privileged. Well, no. Because here I am with two priorities : writing and photography. Therefore, I also refer to tip 1: wherever I go, I carry my camera … and my notepad. (Once again, I am French-speaking : sorry for my bad written English)

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Beautifully stated Marco :)

    • Just Some Guest

      How true Marco. It’s best to always trie and find a balance in work and free time/luxury. In fact, make this a high priority. The rest will fall into place.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotosbystacy/ Stacy Howell

    Nice article! I work in a 911 Center-inside a fenced in compound-no place to shoot here during work days. I work from 6am to 6pm..perhaps could shoot after on my way home, but the drive is very predictable. I live in a suburb of Philadelphia, but love shooting in Manhattan when I can get up there.

    • Just Some Guest

      Wow Stacy, you have realy long working days. I don’t envy you. Helps me realise the luxury I have working only partime. Remember though, sometimes something unpredictable can happen…

  • Brent Fong

    How do I shoot street photography with a full-time job? The easy answer is also the hard answer. You don’t find the time to shoot, you make the time to shoot.

  • darci

    It’s not practical for me to carry my “good” camera back and forth to work every day, but I have a small point-and-shoot that I keep in my purse at all times. When the weather is decent and I haven’t been scheduled for a lunchtime conference call by some oblivious Eastern Timezoner, I try to get out at lunchtime and walk around the Loop see what I see. :D

  • http://photohobbies.tumblr.com reno

    I ALWAYS carry my camera everywhere! I took my NEX5 or Powershot A590IS everywhere, everytime. So when the “that” moments come, I took out my camera and shot. I also take my camera during travel assignment. I usually make time to take shot during lunch or afterwork and also make time during the weekend to just walking, seeking events and stand there, with my camera to capture the moment.

  • http://theofotografi.aminus3.com/ Theo

    Thanks for this article. Good advice.
    Personally, I ALWAYS carry my camera when I walk out the door. Both when I am going to the dentist, at work, on holiday or down and pick up my daughter after school.
    The few times I, for some reason, do not get my camera with me, I feel naked.
    Most times I don´t get any pictures that are worth looking at but, once in a while it leads to a “golden moment”
    Often, I find it hard to concentrate when I am on my way to work, etc. because I can´t focus enough on the world outside myself. Often there are so many everyday thoughts that can block my mind:
    “What are we having for dinner?”
    “Remember to follow the youngest to piano lessons at 17:15”
    “The car must be repaired Wednesday morning at 08.45”
    Etc etc
    There ARE many “obstacles” in life that make photography into something of a chal-lenge, when it comes to getting the time to do what you most of all want – namely to photograph.
    Work is one of those obstacles, but in reality there is also another major “obstacle”. At least for me.
    And that is FAMILY.
    If you (like me) have wife, kids, town house, car and full-time job the opportunity to get on the street is limited.
    It might sound like a harsh statement. As if I do not want my family, but I would just mention that having a family also may be a significant factor.
    It is certainly in my case.
    But sometimes I manage to get a full day alone on the street, where I can focus on WORLD passing by.
    These days are very precious to me.

  • Jordi V. Pou

    I do most of my pictures after work, sometimes after really long days. And many times walking my son dog.

    And my camera is always with me in that moment and all day. I use my mobile phone camera to do it.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lempkin/ Lempkin

    Excellent tips, Eric! Remember the Alec Baldwin scene in Glengarry Glen Ross where he said “Always be closing!” Well, your tips translate into “Always be shooting!” And that’s exactly what it’s about. I carry a camera with me even when I go to do my laundry, because I know that the day I leave it home will be the day when a flaming taxi cab goes flying by with a laughing child hanging out of the side window with a doll under her arm while waving a flag, or something like that. I worked in Manhattan for more than thirty years, before being moved to the industrial wasteland of the outer boroughs, yet I still found time to head into the city several times a week before going home. No to mention the fact that the daytime work hours between 9 and 5 aren’t necessarily the best times to shoot with regard to natural light conditions. So, don’t let work interfere with your passion. Just be ready to shoot whenever the opportunity presents itself

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Well said Michael! True words of wisdom :)

  • http://www.acknickulous.tumblr.com B.C. Lorio

    For the last six months, the desire to practice has made me leave for work as much as an hour early. It’s been fun to catch people just as their work day begins and it leads to an array of expessions. The other benefit is that the rising sun helps provide for some interesting light situations.

    I’ve also enjoyed shooting immediately after work as you can catch the effects of a long day.

    The beautiful of either situation is that I’ll find myselfs traveling down new paths to get to the same destination…my job. Other times, even if I’m shooting in the same environs, I’ll still catch something new.

    My friend ask, “How do you have so much time to shoot?”

    I simply reply, “I make the time.”

  • http://www.jobinterviewfaqs.com David Booher

    My friend ask, “How do you have so much time to shoot?”

    I simply reply, “I make the time.”

    hey B.C. Lorio

    you are funny!

  • http://www.boileau.cc Charles Boileau

    I make it a priority to walk to work as often as possible. It takes an hour… More than enough time to take a good shot (or two)…

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  • Dyjital

    I walk everyday down the 16th street mall in denver on the way home and this always give me a solid hour or two of just walking around looking for that decisive moment each day. And hour or two doesn’t seem like match, but it adds up when you do it five days a week.

  • http://twitter.com/FLAMEDidea rafael john

    i sometimes , get down the bus even when im not yet on my destination, then i take photos while i walk to my office, really nice cause of the added exersice hehe