eric kim street photography finger

How to Capture Emotional Layers in Street Photography

Nowadays in street photography, it is popular to add lots of layers, subjects, and complexity to your frame.

Yet, sometimes we fall victim to this aesthetic— we add layers for layers sake.

I feel what we should strive in street photography is this — seek emotional layers to our photos. To have emotional depth. To have emotional complexity.

Juxtapose emotions

Hanoi, 2016
Hanoi, 2016

One way we can add more layers of emotion to our photo is to juxtapose different emotions in our photo.

Juxtapose happiness and sadness. Joy and despair. The old and young. The new and traditional.

Capture people moving different ways, with different gestures, with different light, expressions, and moods.

Suggest more questions than provide answers

SF, 2015
SF, 2015

Also keep your photos open-ended. Decide what important information to leave out of the frame— which will make your photos more mysterious. The more mysterious your photos, the more questions you will ask your viewer.

You don’t want your photos to be explained too easily. You don’t want your viewer to decipher what is going on in your photos too easy. You don’t want to give away the answers of your photo (this is why I don’t recommend adding really long captions to your photos, to ‘explain’ your photos to your viewer).

How can you make the viewer participate more in your photos, and make us his/her own story of your photo?

Decide what to exclude from your frame.


Istanbul, 2014

Don’t think of composition for composition sake. Think of how you can add more depth in terms of emotion, feelings, and psychology.

How do your photos make your viewer feel? What emotional impact will your photos have in the heart of your viewer?

Add more soul to your images, and your images will live in the heart of your viewer forever.


Learn more: How to Shoot Layers in Street Photography >