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Street Photography 101 Tutorial

Dear friend,

If you’re new to street photography, or want a quick refresher: here is a quick start to a basic overview of street photography:

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What is Street Photography?

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Dear friend, to start: let us discuss what is street photography:

Street photography is the art of photographing people in public places.

For more info, read: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide for Street Photography >


Black and White Street Photography

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When you’re starting off in street photography, I recommend starting shooting in black and white.

Why?

Black and White is more minimal, and forces you to focus on simplifying your photos. Shooting black and white will also help you improve your composition, focus, and for you to master the fundamentals of street photography.

Learn more: How to Master Black and White Street Photography >


How to Shoot Street Photography

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There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to shoot street photography. My suggestion is I hope this section will help spark some ideas on how YOU want to shoot street photography.

Learn more: How to Shoot Street Photography >


Technical Settings in Street Photography

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In terms of technical settings in street photography, starting off I recommend shooting in “P” (program mode), with ISO 1600. If your camera doesn’t have this, just shoot fully-automatic. To shoot effective street photos, the most important thing is your technique, approach, and composition.

Learn more: What Are the Best Technical Settings for Street Photography? >

Best camera for street photography

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To be upfront, I believe the RICOH GR II is the best camera for street photography.

Learn more: Equipment >

Street Portraits 101

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What is a ‘street portrait’ you ask? Essentially asking a stranger to make a portrait of them.

Even if you prefer to shoot street photography candidly and without permission, I think it will benefit you to practice shooting street portraits.


There are different ways you can shoot street portraits.

First of all, you can just ask a bunch of strangers you find interesting to “make their portrait”. I’ve found also by complimenting people, and telling them why you want to make their photograph will make them more open and willing to be photographed.

Also realize that the more comfortable you get shooting portraits of strangers and talking/interacting with them, you will also feel more comfortable photographing strangers candidly and without permission. Why? Just in-case someone gets angry at you for photographing them, you will be able to interact with them, to calm them down.


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The best assignment I recommend you to experiment with street portraits is this: the “10 no challenge“. The idea is you just keep asking a bunch of strangers to make their portrait, until you get 10 people to reject you! Therefore my suggestion is try to intentionally look for ‘scary’ people who you think will reject you. This is the quickest way to overcome your fear of rejection.

Learn more: How to Master Shooting Street Portraits >


Conquer Your Fears

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I believe street photography is about 90% psychology. To have the confidence to click the shutter, when you feel nervous/afraid takes a long time.

However the great thing about street photography: you can train yourself to conquer your fears.


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First of all, it is important for you to ask yourself why you are afraid of photographing strangers. Is it because you don’t like to be photographed yourself, and therefore you assume others don’t like to be photographed? Is it because when you were a child, you were told it was rude to stare at strangers? Were you trained as a child to be afraid of strangers?

Learn more: The Street Photography Code of Ethics >


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Also I suggest to ask yourself, “What is the worst-case scenario?” When you understand your own psychology and your worst-case fears, then you can address street photography in a more rational way.

For example, I know for myself, I often fear physical confrontation. Yet, in my experience I’ve found that 99.9% of people never get physical– they always first verbally yell. And also I have realized that it is within my legal right to photograph in public places (without the permission of strangers).


It is your duty to shoot street photography!

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Also I’ve realized that it is my duty to photograph street photography! Why? Your duty is to make beautiful images to inspire humanity. Therefore, realize that at worst, you are only ‘minorly annoying’ the people you photograph. You are making photos for the greater good!

BE BOLD,
ERIC


Composition

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Dear friend,

Okay, so now you’ve built up your confidence to photograph strangers (either with or without permission). Now the next difficult step: make nice compositions of strangers, with all the chaos of the streets!

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To be honest, remember that street photography is probably one of the most difficult genres of photography. Why? To shoot, compose, be nimble, and interact with strangers is very difficult.

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My practical suggestion is this: realize that it is very rare that you will make a good street photograph. For myself, every 10,000 (digital) photos I shoot, I probably get 1 photo I like. Street photography is like baseball: the more you swing your bat, the more likely you are to hit a home run!

So my suggestion is this: study composition diligently, and try to ask yourself when you are looking at the composition of other photographers: “How could I make a similar composition?”

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Generally a lot of composition is taking risks when you’re shooting, and trying to simultaneously simplify the scene. But often you will discover your best compositions afterwards, when you are at home choosing your best photos.

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So realize that composition is also the act of image-selection; the act of selecting your best compositions. Because no matter how good you are as a street photographer, there will always be some luck involved!

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And when in doubt,

JUST SHOOT IT.
ERIC

Learn more: Contact Sheets >


MASTERS

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Dear friend,

If you want to master street photography for yourself, it is important to study the masters from the past. Why? Consider the masters as your personal guide; your personal mentor.

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Personally for myself, I have got so much wisdom and am so grateful for all the work of the masters who have come before me. But at a certain point, you must also ‘kill your master‘; don’t be the slave of your master forever!

Which means: find inspiration and motivation from the masters of the past, but remember that you have the freedom to pave your own path!

BE BOLD,
ERIC

Learn more: Learn From the Masters of Photography >


Editing and Processing

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Dear friend,

Realize that there is a difference between ‘editing’ and ‘processing’:

  • Editing: the art of selecting your best photos
  • Processing: the art of processing your photos into black and white, cropping, adding contrast, filters, presets, etc.

To be honest, 99% of your focus should be on editing (choosing your best photos), and only 1% of your efforts on post-processing your photos.

Learn more: Adobe Lightroom >


Have fun,
ERIC


Photography Projects

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Dear friend,

This section will give you some practical idea on photography projects. For myself, I enjoy working on projects because it gives me more focus, and gives me the chance to work on a photography-project which I find more personally-meaningful to myself.

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There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to work on a project. Whatever project you pursue, make sure it is personal. The more personal you make your projects, the more you will be able to emotionally-engage your viewer.

ERIC

Learn more: How to Master Working on Your Own Street Photography Project >


Motivation

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To stay motivated in photography is hard. We are all busy with our families, kids, lives, work, etc. My suggestion is this: treat everyday as a fun opportunity for you to flex your photographic muscles! And remember to keep photography fun, challenging, and interesting to you– and you will never run out of motivation.

Ask yourself:

“How can I keep making photos until I die?”

Learn more: Do You Plan on Shooting Until You Die? >

Never stop shooting,
ERIC


Street Photography 101 >

Black and white dark skies over Tokyo eric kim street photography

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


Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography

Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Mastering Street Photography
Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography

Become the best street photographer possible by picking up a copy of Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Street Photography. This book is full of all my distilled knowledge and wisdom on street photography over the last 10 years, crafted specifically to empower you in street photography.

For more free resources, presets, and PDF visualizations on street photography, join my free ERIC KIM NEWSLETTER to stay inspired and empowered.

Also join ERIC KIM EXPERIENCE if you want to take your street photography to the next level and conquer your fears and meet new peers.

To join a positive and passionate community, share your photos in ERIC KIM FORUM. Look forward to having you friend :)


Street Photography Storytelling

cyan pink composition istanbul


Street Photography Techniques


JUST SHOOT IT. HENRI NECK STRAP by ERIC KIM

ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP
ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP

See HENRI NECK STRAP on AMAZON >


Street Photography Articles

Mad men. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z


Street Photography Composition Techniques


STREET NOTES.

STREET NOTES MOBILE EDITION x RICOH GR II
STREET NOTES MOBILE EDITION x RICOH GR II

Push yourself out of your comfort zone with STREET NOTES: Mobile Edition.

STREET NOTES PAPER EDITION ON AMAZON >


LEARN FROM THE MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

LEARN FROM THE MASTERS by HAPTIC

Timeless wisdom from the masters of street photography.

Learn more about MASTERS >

Buy MASTERS on Amazon >


FUNDAMENTALS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

elegance, seoul, 2009 Eric Kim street photography

Street Photography Inspiration

eric kim street photography marseille kodak portra 400 sunbather beach


Beginner Street Photography Articles

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Get started in street photography:

Definitions in Street Photography

How to Shoot Street Photography

Street Photography Equipment

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See all equipment articles >

How to Conquer Your Fears in Street Photography

See all articles to conquer your fears >


Intermediate Street Photography Articles

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Take your street photography to the next level:


Advanced Street Photography Articles

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Find deeper meaning in your street photography:


Street Photography Tips & Technique

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Learn how to shoot on the streets:

See all street photography tips and techniques >

Street Photography Guides

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In-depth guides on street photography:

Street Photography Equipment

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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

MASTERS PROTOTYPE by HAPTIC

“He without a past has no future.”

Start here:

  1. Why Study the Masters of Photography?
  2. Great Female Master Photographers
  3. Cheat Sheet of the Masters of Photography
  4. 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
  5. Beginner’s Guide to the Masters of Street Photography
  6. Download All Articles >

The Masters of Photography

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

Classics never die:


Free Downloads

See all free downloads >

Free Street Photography Books

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Distilled information on street photography:

For more resources on photography, Start Here >

By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher