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Simple Street Photography Tips

eric kim street photography - color - chroma-19

Dear friend,

I want to give you 3 simple street photography suggestions/tips:

1. Shoot 25% more than you think you need to shoot

eric kim downtown la pinocchio nose

When you think you got the shot in street photography; you haven’t.

Girl pinnochio nose-contact copy

Try to shoot 25% more than you think you should.

For example, when I make photos of a scene, I try to push myself to take 25% more photos than I think I need to.

When I push myself 25% more, I often get my best photographs.

1 eric kim street photography - street portraits-1-laughing-lady-nyc

You can push this philosophy in different ways in life:

  • For business, charge 25% more for your product or services than you think you should (in order to not under-sell yourself)
  • When doing pushups, do 25% more reps than you think you can (to build muscle)
  • When you’re angry, push yourself to be 25% more patient, for 25% longer.
  • When you’re fasting, and getting really hungry, push yourself 25% longer (by not eating)

laughin-lady-contact copy

Learn more: Contact Sheets >

2. Clean edges

eric kim street photography hanoi

Often the difference between a good and bad street photograph is how messy the edges of the frame or the background is.

1-hanoi lake eric kim street photography contact sheet

So as a solution, try to clean your edges.

eric kim street photography hanoi-5

When I’m making street photographs, I don’t look at the center of my frame. I only look at the edges of the frame when I’m composing. I also look at the background.

In terms of negative space, I try to add a little bit of white space around the head of my subject.

Also another way you can think of street photography: you’re trying to subtract distractions from your frame, not add. The best street photographs work by subtraction.

The same goes with life: seek to subtract the superfluous from your life:

  • Subtract negative people
  • Subtract excess cameras and gear
  • Subtract negative energy
  • Subtract complaints, anger, and frustrations

3. Get eye contact

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Eyes are the windows to the soul. So to make a better street photograph, try to get eye contact in your street photographs.

eric kim eye contact street photography sf

Get close to your subject, bring up your camera, and wait for the subject to notice your presence. Then take a few photos, and wait until your subject looks straight into your lens.

eric kim eye contact street portrait

Or if you approach a stranger to make a street portrait of them, ask them:

Please don’t smile, and just look straight into the lens.

This will give you a much more authentic street photograph.

eric kim eye contact street photography downtown la

In real life, the better you are at making eye contact, the more successful you will be in business, in overcoming your fears, and also building stronger personal relationships.

Learn more: How to Overcome Your Fear of Eye Contact in Street Photography >

Keep it simple

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I hope these 3 tips are easy to remember. Remember, let’s keep things simple in street photography and life.


Street Photography 101

Tokyo, 2012

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Learn From the Masters of Street Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

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