6 Lessons Dorothea Lange Has Taught Me About Street Photography

migrant mother-dorothea lange

I recently got a new book in the mail: “Dorothea Lange: Aperture Masters of Photography” (courtesy of Aperture) and was deeply inspired and moved by her work, life, and philosophy.

I have always known Dorothea Lange’s work documenting the Great Depression (and her famous “Migrant Mother” photograph), but didn’t know much about her life and philosophy. In this article I will share some of the lessons that Dorothea Lange has taught me about photography, and how you can apply that philosophy to your own work:

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The Golden Rule in Street Photography: Photograph Others How You Would Like to Be Photographed

SF, 2015

SF, 2015

One thing I notice when I’m teaching street photography workshops is that a lot of photographers don’t like having their own photograph taken.

This is a huge problem.

If you want to build up your confidence in shooting street photography, I think you also need to be comfortable being on the other side of the camera.

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Video Podcast Interview about Street Photography on ISO 400 (The Phoblographer)

Julius Motal (passionate street photographer) from The Phoblographer recently did a podcast interview with me on their new podcast series, ISO 400. We talked about how I joined my interests in sociology and photography (to grow my interest in street photography), the projects I am currently working on, as well as tips and advice for street photographers.

Enjoy the video interview above!

Before/After: SF Week-Long Intensive Street Photography Workshop 2015

John Hall - SF Zen-3

Student Workshop Photo by John Hall. SF, 2015

I just finished a week-long intensive street photography workshop in SF, and man– was it one great experience. The students all did an incredible job stepping outside of their comfort zones, improved their street photography, and built up an amazing sense of teamwork.

I am so proud of all of their improvement through the week, read more to see all of their before/after images! Also if you are interested in improving your body of work, learning more about composition, and building your confidence in in the streets, check out my upcoming street photography workshops.

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The Benefit of Having No Expectations in Street Photography

San Francisco, 2015

San Francisco, 2015

“I am content with few, content with one, content with none at all.” – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

I have a problem. I have really high expectations for myself. I want to become the best photographer I possibly can, the best teacher I possibly can, and also the best blogger that I possibly can.

The downside?

I put a lot of pressure on myself.

I put pressure on myself to constantly be shooting, to constantly be improving my teaching, and to also constantly be writing.

But I often feel that having too high expectations for myself is counter-productive. I feel that putting so much pressure on myself has lead to fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Not only that, but the more pressure I put on myself— the worse I actually perform.

What is the antidote that worked for me? Having no expectations.

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Video: Introduction to Editing, Processing, and Workflow in Lightroom 5 for Street Photography

Hey streettogs, I just put together a video introduction to using Lightroom 5 for editing, post-processing, and workflow. In the video I share some fundamental hotkeys, tips, and suggestions. I hope you enjoy the video, and please let me know what other questions you have about using Lightroom 5 (or editing/post-processing in general) in the comments section!


  • E: “Enlarge”
  • G: “Grid” / “Gallery”
  • F: “Full screen”
  • Tab: Collapse side columns
  • Tab + Shift: Collapse all columns
  • D: “Develop”


  1. “F” : Make full screen

  2. Turn on the “Caps lock” key

  3. “P” or “X” :

  • P: Pick (if you think it is a good shot): 5-10%
  • X: Reject (if you think it is a bad shot or a ‘Maybe’ shot): “When in doubt, ditch:” 90%
  1. Go through all of the photos

  2. “Filters off” -> “Flagged”