How to Shoot Layers

In street photography (and photography, cinema, art in general), layers are awesome. Why? Layers add more dynamic energy and visual interest to your photos!

If you want to shoot layers in photography, here are some tips:

1. Wide angle lens (24mm, 28mm, 35mm)


If you want to shoot layers, I recommend using a wide-angle lens (24mm, 28mm, 35mm). Why? It will allow you to get closer to the action, and fit more people into the frame!

2. Use real people and inanimate objects

When shooting layers, use inanimate objects, like mannequins or other visual elements to create “bookends” in your photos.

And practice shooting layers anywhere! At the mall, park, gym, or on the streets!

3. Shoot layers with a flash

Layers flash

Get your Weegee on, and use a flash when shooting layers.

Flash layers

I recommend going to some busy downtown area, and pretending to be a lost tourist, and photograph people in front of stores.

4. Interact and engage with your subjects

Girls posed

If you see a group of people, chat with them and say hello! Then get very close to the action, and shoot the layers! A great photographer who did this was William Klein.

Layers sketch

5. Put your selfie in the shot!

Put your own shadow selfie in the photo, to add a layer!

6. Shoot at street corners

Street corner Kyoto

At the intersection of street corners, shoot there! Why? You will have more depth in your scene!

Layers street corner sketch

7. Cutoff technique

Shoot head-on with your subjects, by walking directly in front of them (cutoff technique in street photography).

8. Pretend you’re shooting a billboard or something behind your subjects

If you see a group of people, get super close, and keep your eyes locked on the subjects in the background!

Layers sketch

9. Get close

Thumb up kyoto

Robert Capa taught us, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He was right.

Sketch iPad thumb up Kyoto

To get better layers, look at the background for different people and elements. Then get super close to the action, to fill the frame with your subjects, and to get some epic layers!

10. Look at the background

Don’t just get focused on the subject closest to you. When shooting layers, look at all the elements in the background!

Layers background

11. Camping technique

Camping background

Find a simple background, and camp out. Wait for someone to enter the frame, then fill the frame with them!

Layers camping

Learn more: Street photography 101