eric kim street photography hanoi-5

How to Make Better Street Photographs

eric kim street photography hanoi-5

Dear friend,

If you want to make better street photos, here are some tips:

1. Shoot what scares you

eric kim street photography hanoi-0003676
Shot with a flash during the day

It is hard to know what makes a good photo or bad photo. But we know what scares us.

For example, if I see a guy with a face tattoo, that is gonna scare me, but also interest me.

When I’m feeling afraid: this is a good sign.

Photos that you are scared of are photos you must shoot.

So as a street photography assignment; only shoot what you’re afraid of for a week. If you see a person or a scene that doesn’t evoke fear, you’re not allowed to shoot it.

2. Capture layers

Layers in street photography are hard. Very hard.

Alex Webb, Charlie Kirk, Constantine Manos, Vineet Vohra, and many contemporary street photographers do it very well.

To capture layers in street photography, prefocus your lens to 5 meters, shoot at f8, and try to get someone in the background, middle-ground, and foreground.

For example, start off by finding a clean background, or stage. Then, look for a static person in the background (anchor subject) who isn’t moving. It can be a guy smoking a cigarette, for example.

Then wait for someone to walk on by, and then try to capture these two subjects (without overlap).

Advanced layers: try to wait until you also have someone in the extreme foreground.

To study more layers, check out the work of my friend Chu Viet Ha.

3. “What the fuck?”

Photographers can make memorable street photographs that confuse the viewer, and to create surreal imagery, look for visual absurdities in real life.

The Street Photography collective: IN PUBLIC does this very well. The work of Matt Stuart, David Gibson, Nick Turpin, Siegfried Hansen, Dirty Harrry, Jesse Marlow are supreme. I also like the work or “ngravity” on Flickr, as well as Justin Vogel.

To capture surrealism, look for scenes that cause you to think:

What the fuck?

A simple beginner technique is the “fishing” technique. Find a funny background and wait for the right person to walk on by.

Better yet, be like Blake Andrews: just see the world differently from others. The best way, less time looking at yoke phone, and more time being observant and perceptive of reality around you.


Read street photography 101 or buy STREET NOTES for more inspiration.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to shoot street photography.

Make your own street photographs, that strikes a human and emotional chord in your soul.

Be strong,

Tokyo, 2012

If you’re new to street photography, start here:

Street Photography Inspiration

Beginner Street Photography Articles


Get started in street photography:

Definitions in Street Photography

How to Shoot Street Photography

Street Photography Equipment

See all equipment articles >

How to Conquer Your Fears in Street Photography

See all articles to conquer your fears >

Intermediate Street Photography Articles


Take your street photography to the next level:

Advanced Street Photography Articles


Find deeper meaning in your street photography:

Street Photography Tips & Technique


Learn how to shoot on the streets:

See all street photography tips and techniques >

Street Photography Guides


In-depth guides on street photography:

Street Photography Equipment


The best equipment for street photography:

See all equipment articles >

Street Photography Editing and Workflow

How to Start a Street Photography Project

Learn From the Masters of Street Photography

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

“He without a past has no future.”

If you want a distilled version, read the free ebook:  “100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography.”

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Free Street Photography Ebooks


Distilled information on street photography:

For more resources on photography, Start Here >

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