Video Lecture: How to Shoot Street Portraits

Dear streettogs, if you want to learn more of how to shoot street portraits, I just put together a 47-minute video lecture for you! In this lecture I cover what “street portraits” are (and how they differ from “street photography”), how to approach strangers, how to overcome the fear of rejection, as well as practical tips for shooting street portraits.

You can see and download all the slides for free on Slideshare or on Google drive.

To learn more about street portraits, check out my Chicago Street Portraits POV videos on YouTube.

30 Tips When Shooting Street Portraits

Below are some of the tips I included from the presentation on how to shoot street portraits (and a few extra freebies):

  1. Keep working the scene until your subject forgets about you
  2. Ask your subject to move to an interesting background
  3. You don’t need to photograph your subject’s face
  4. Take a photo of your subject looking at you / not looking at you
  5. Focus on the edges
  6. Ask your subject to look down / look up
  7. Provoke a response
  8. Remember you’ll never see them again (don’t miss out on the opportunity)
  9. Be genuinely interested in your subject
  10. Compliment your subject
  11. Talk to your subject before asking to take their photograph
  12. Realize that just because you had a good interaction doesn’t mean it is a good photograph
  13. Look for dramatic light
  14. Ask your subject: is it okay if I move you?
  15. Slightly touch your subject to change their posture, direction, or position
  16. Ask your subject not to smile
  17. Shoot both landscapes/vertical photos
  18. Shoot from different perspectives
  19. Get close, then get closer
  20. Talk to your subjects while photographing them
  21. Realize a posed photograph can look candid
  22. Capture the “unguarded moment”
  23. Try to shoot with / without a flash
  24. Capture hand gestures (get their hands close to their face)
  25. Shoot the same framing more than once (realize that their face direction might move, or facial gesture)
  26. Look for the surrounding environment (environmental portraiture)
  27. Realize a street portrait is more about yourself, not your subject
  28. Try to capture an “authentic” look that doesn’t look too posey
  29. Focus on details (use macro mode)
  30. Don’t feel guilty about “wasting your subject’s time” (they love the attention)

What are some tips you have when it comes to shooting street portraits,  or any questions you might have? Leave them in the comments below!

Take at Least 1 Shitty Photograph Everyday

Seoul, 2014

Seoul, 2014

I am currently reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron— an interesting book that links creativity, spirituality, and overcoming your artistic self-censor.

I know a lot of photographers who are perfectionists or have a lot of self-doubt. This causes them to not pursue their dreams of becoming a photographer. Not becoming a full-time photographer, but to be someone who makes photography a part of his or her everyday life, soul, and existence.

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London, 2014

I often have a hard time going out and making “street photos”— and I have a lot of other friends who face a similar difficulty. A lot of street photographers disdain their busy lives, and how they aren’t ever able to make time to go out and hit the streets and shoot “street photography”.

But being really inspired by my friend Josh White— I realized that you don’t need to be a “street photographer”, you just need to be a “photographer”. Or better yet, don’t even be a “photographer”, be a human being with immense amounts of curiosity about the world, with the passion and drive to document it.

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London, 2014

London, 2014

I think as artists and photographers we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We always put pressure on ourselves to improve our photography, to take our work to the next level, and to make “original” work.

In “Akademie x Lessons in Art and Life” artist (and our tutor) Shirley Tse gave lots of interesting ideas on art that are quite taoist/buddhist in nature. Her ideas reflect on self-compassion in art, and some of her lessons include loving (not judging), being critical without being judgmental, sharpening one’s visual intelligence, and not worrying so much about being original (but more focus on being authentic).

Let’s dive in.

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NYC, 2014

NYC, 2014

Continuing the lessons I’ve learned from “Akademie x Lessons in Art + Life”, I want to share some thoughts I’ve learned from Carol Bove, one and the artists and “tutors” from the book.

Carol expresses ideas on self-expression, what work means to her, time and information management, as well as uncensoring and finding yourself. I hope you enjoy these ideas:

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