10 Simple Street Photography Principles

Dear friend,

Here are some simple street photography principles which I believe can empower you in your photography!

1. For multiple subject photos, limit the photo to only three people

Old people hand gesture Tokyo

2. For more dynamic compositions, crouch down low and shoot your subject with the buildings leading to their face

Also when shooting in the shade, use a flash to separate your subject and background.

3. Hand gestures

Photos with hand gestures have more emotion and soul!

4. Get close and fill the frame

Shoot with a wide angle lens (24mm-35mm) and fill the frame with the faces of your subjects! William Klein did this very well:

The benefit is to make your viewer feel like they’re really there — to give them more a dynamic feeling of energy and life!

5. Shoot with a flash

Experiment shooting street photography with a flash to make more surreal photos. And experiment shooting with a flash through glass too! I did this much for my SUITS book.

6. Juxtapose

Juxtaposition is a contrast between two concepts or ideas.

For example,

  • Young vs old
  • Children vs adults
  • Skinny and fat
  • Modern and classic
<li>To make more powerful photos, keep it simple, and just contrast or juxtapose two elements, like I did with this father and son in downtown la:</li><img src="https://erickimphotography.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/8111762700_95da4c62a9_o.jpg" class="size-full">

7. Don’t just take 1-2 photos of a scene

Instead, “work the scene”. Shoot lots of photos to get one good one!

8. Simplify your compositions by blocking out distracting elements

Gilles Peress does this beautifully in his Telex Iran project:

9. Look for the curved line, arabesque

Or what Cindy calls, look for a “squiggly line composition” when shooting. Look for equal spacing of heads, and your subjects looking in different directions.

Gilles Peress does this very well:

Also a tip: you often will discover the compositions after you’ve shot a scene. So it’s your job as a photographer to identify compositions when you’re in the editing (image selection) phase of your photography:

10. Interact and engage with your subjects

William Klein embedded his soul into his photos by interacting and engaging with his subjects. Disregard the myth of the invisible photographer: