10 Street Photography Tips from an Anonymous Street Photographer

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I recently got these 10 street photography tips from an anonymous street photographer who wanted to share this information with you. I found these tips to be very insightful, and I hope you will too! Keep reading more to learn about all the goodness.

1.  Meter off your hand

Damien Rayuela

When there is nice light, hold your hand into the light and meter off that.  This will result in a great exposure, and works especially well if you are shooting in manual mode.

Often time when you are shooting in automatic modes (Aperture-priority or program) the camera doesn’t always give you the best metering or exposure. If you are shooting in manual mode, try to keep two settings: one for the light and one for shadows. Try alternating between the both when you are out shooting, and your exposures will be much more precise.

2.  Keep moving

Always on the run

Piotr Golebiowski

When waiting in a certain area (e.g. an area with great light), keep walking around.  Standing still brings attention to yourself.

3. Always be ready

Jump Rope

Always have our camera in your hand and ready to shoot. Don’t just have your camera around your neck, which can cause a delay in you shooting. If your camera isn’t in your hand, you’re not ready to take a photo.

4.  Hide your camera

Hold the camera behind the wrist so it’s out of view. This will further bring less attention to yourself when shooting on the streets. (Disregard sexy image above of AG‘s Leica M4-P hung around his neck)

5.  Walk on the right hand side of the street (if you shoot with flash)

If right handed and you shoot off camera flash, walk along the right hand side of the street. Why?  Right handed people hold flash in left hand. So you can aim flash towards people in profile as they walk past. Doesn’t work the other way. Think about it.

6.  Fiddle with your camera

Try fiddling with your camera, like Winogrand.  You’ll look like a beginner and people will think you are testing it rather than shooting. Watch the video above and see how he handles and shoots his camera!

7.  Shoot in front

Try following someone, speeding up, and then walking around them to get close. This will allow you to shoot them head-on which is often much more interesting than shooting them from behind. Why? People’s faces show so much character and tell stories. The back of people’s heads? Sometimes, but often not.

8.  Watch your backgrounds
Like a Boss

Frame the background.  If it is ugly, an interesting subject won’t make the picture better. Always be careful about your backgrounds, especially when shooting using hyperfocal focusing and using a large f-stop such as f/16 or f/11.

9.  Don’t hesitate
Sweep That Frown Upside Down

It’s always best to press the shutter button if in doubt.

Think about all the photo-opportunities or decisive moments you may have missed because you hesitated. This applies in sports as well. In basketball, if you pass the ball to someone on the 3-point line– you better hope they don’t hesitate. Even a fraction of a second of hesitation can prevent them from shooting or missing all-together. Shoot with your instincts.

10.  Obsess yourself with street photography

Downtown LA

As Thomas Leuthard likes to say, street photography is a way of life. Apply this to your mentality when it comes to shooting. If you want to create memorable images, obsess yourself with it. Eat, drink, and sleep street photography. Always have your camera by your side, and constantly shoot, read about street photography, look at street photographs, and visit exhibitions and museums with inspirational images. This is the only way you can truly become great.

As Malcom Gladwell mentioned in his book “Blink”, most successful people have put at least 10,000 hours into their craft. Haven’t shot for 10,000 hours yet? Well go out and shoot!

What are some of your personal street photography tips? Share them by leaving a comment below!

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  • spencewine

    Pretty good advice. My only objection is to #4 (hide your camera). While this certainly works for many situations, I do not think it is always necessary. Being obvious about what you are doing in certain situations is less disrupting and buys yourself more time to compose, etc. For instance, on public transit where I am in one spot surrounded by the same people for 30-45 min, I will keep my camera out and fiddle with it as soon as I enter the train. People at first glance and acknowledge, but after a couple minutes I am forgotten and free to shoot. At least that is my experience. The same goes for places where you plan to shoot for an extended amount of time and subjects are stationary.

  • Tilman

    Very good article, I like : ) Best from Berlin

  • Dash

    thanks for the great article! i still have difficulty taking frontal shots of my street subjects but i know i must just get out there and get close.. i do the fiddle camera alot that, and i can attest to that – it does work! :)

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

      Great to hear Dash. And yes, front is almost always more interesting;)

    • Keep_rock_alive

      that is so right, pretending to be an noob often does the trick…

  • Raymond

    warm up by taking pictures in touristy areas. i found it loosened me up for when i go out

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

      Great idea Raymond! :)

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

      Great idea Raymond! :)

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    Nr.1 was taken from Joel Meyerowitz I bet.

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

      Perhaps ;)

      • K Brown

        Nice try, that’s Joel all over it.

        And a well built sentence that is……

        • Semanuelp

          Eric didn´t said that it was a method invented by him and his job, to teach beginners, should be praised. In my opinion he has contributed greatly to the development of this practice . I like very much his humility and his sense of sharing his knowledge

    • Mike

      Not sure if you’re talking about the choice of words or the technique, but metering off the hand has been around for years. It was a very common piece of advice that used to get passed around liberally, but always with a caveat that skin tone does matter. It was always a good idea to check your own skin meter readings against a hand-held light meter so you would know the compensation that needed to be made when a hand-held wasn’t available.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Pol.mm Pablo Leonardo Galicer

    I highly agree with #4 us something I constantly experience. As somebody from Buenos Aires, Argentina, a place where I have found myself constantly looking over my shoulder checking if somebody isn’t spotting me I’ve found this not only great for getting candid pics but also keep my camera safe. It’s even even better if you’re shooting from the hip as the movements you’ll make is almost unnoticeable.

  • Mallika

    Thanks for the article, very helpful. Not so sure about tip #7 though- sounds a bit like stalking. And wouldn’t someone object if you thrust a camera in their face? What do you reckon is the best way to get people to consent?

  • http://twitter.com/Gazonthestreet Gazonthestreet

    Some very good advice here particularly for beginners. The first tip is one that us older photographers used a lot when one had a separate hand held meter and is still good advice today. No. 3 is a good one especially if you are not in a tourist area.

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  • http://www.citysnaps.net/blog/ Brad

    I also disagree with #4. All that does is create suspicion and potentially lead to trouble. Much better to be up-front and just take the picture, rather than sneak around using “tactics,” such as hip-shots (that usually return awful results).

    People respect directness, and you’ll get a much better photograph. And more importantly, no problems.

  • http://twitter.com/mattmaber matt maber

    The video of Gerry Winogrand is great (though its a shame about the German translator over the top) Id love to see more from him.

  • http://twitter.com/mattmaber matt maber

    Also, worth watching these 3 videos on Vimeo (they’re a couple of years old but Ive only just discovered them)
    Street Photography: Documenting the Human Condition 1-3
    I noticed the hand metering on those

  • John Kim

    Since I have only film RF cameras, I was curious how other photographer measure light. My exposure are getting better, but learning curve is very slow since I learn these thing from my mistakes. As Joel Meyerowitz mentioned from one of his Youtube video, I know many people measure light from their hand. But I would like to learn more about it.
    Thanks for sharing these tips.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=556457570 Phyllis Ollari

    since when is an f16 or f11 a large aperture? I would think it would be an average size. F2.8 is large.

    • Les Faber

      Large number…. Small aperture. Small number …… Large aperture! My Dad taught me that gem whilst teaching me photography on his Leica rangefinder.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=556457570 Phyllis Ollari

         that’s not how I was taught.

  • Barry Fisher

    #4 Hiding the camera just makes you feel and look suspicious. However, I feel you should do what makes you feel comfortable. If you need past photographer to be guiding star than know that Winogrand was quite up-front with his camera, whereas HCB tended to hold his camera out of sight. However, most of the really good photographers I know don’t try to hide the camera or sneak around. #7, hmm..maybe, maybe not doesn’t it depend on the photograph. I usually don’t buy into such a hard and fast rule (tip). Maybe a better general tip is worry about taking better photographs and not so much whether it is a “street” photograph. Definitions seem to run together over time and I wouldn’t worry so much about the identity thing. Check out a site called “City Snaps” by Brad Evans. He has been shooting in San Francisco streets for years and lately has been doing projects on areas of the City. His photography has evolved into engaging with people on the street and often taking portraits of them on the street. To me, it’s every bit as much street photography as candid. But that’s just me. Over all, though these tips will be useful to getting out there. Enjoy!

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  • duke

    i love the video and gonna try sometimes :) thanks a lot

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  • Ji Hoon Yoon

    I never understood the point of pointlessly taking pictures of random people on the street.

    • T N Args

      I agree. Photos 5, 7, 8, and 9 look particularly uncomfortable — and don’t seem to have any merit either.

    • Billy

      I think, like any form of art, there will be those who appreciate it and those who don’t. Some people may not see “art” in a thousand 7-Up caps glued to a statue of the Buddha, but others will sit there and admire it for hours.

      In may case, I love people watching. I can go to Chicago, New Orleans, Tokyo, Tijuana, etc and spend a whole day just watching people go by, doing whatever it is they do, and never get bored. It fascinates me. So if someone can capture the essence of that with a camera, and do it artistically, sure, I totally understand the point of it.

  • Redskull116

    im so inspired after reading this, im going to be snapping everthing on the way home!!!

  • Nj_nadreno

    Des lois existe pour cela ne peut photographier une personne sans autorisation!!! Abus de société Nj photographe ” Se faire connaître sur le dos des autres.. pas bon `”

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  • Achintha

    Thanks for the tips

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  • http://zakladki.mammyboard.org/user.php?login=ktyushajob&view=voted Nexmoodsen

    Hello. And Bye.

    вакансии на должность главного режиссера драматического театра Joobler http://linkmerken.de/ktyushajob

  • http://www.diamondlotus.asia/ โชคดี

    393063 971767I dont think Ive read anything like this before. So good to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. thank for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. Good job for bringing something new to the internet! 400560

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  • http://blogwildotan.com/ Natan Dotan

    your rule number one is especialy useful, i have noticed that keeping one setting for light(manuel) and one for the shadow is the easiest solution vs AV mode, not EC and also remember that it is much easier in post processing, just one EX for all