Next-level street photography tips and technique:
1. Keep shooting until your subject looks at you
If you see an interesting person or scene, keep shooting until your subject notices you, and makes eye contact with you (the lingering technique).
2. One-eye composition
I learned this when watching the film ‘Godfather‘:
To make more dramatic images, only show one eye of your subject.
3. Ask your subject to look different directions
When you’re shooting street portraits, and when you ask for permission, direct your subject:
Ask your subject to look up, down, left, right.
Later when you go home, select the photograph you prefer the best.
4. Cut-off technique / crouch down super low
The cutoff technique is when your subject is walking towards you, and you want to shoot super-close. What you do is this:
Walk across your subject and photograph them head-on.
If you want to make a more dramatic composition, combine both the cut-off technique while crouching super low (the moment you shoot the photo).
5. Shoot inside restaurants / bars
For the above photo, I was walking on the streets of Tokyo, and saw all these interesting guys inside. I poked my head in really quick, shot a few photos with my RICOH GR II, then left and kept walking.
When you’re walking on the streets, and you see open doors for restaurants and bars, you can step inside really quickly, shoot a few photos, then quickly leave (before someone tells you to leave or threatens to kick you out).
6. Extreme dutch angle
Shot on RICOH GR II at 28mm:
When you see an interesting subject really far away, put them in the corner of the frame, and do an extreme tilt (extreme dutch angle).
By integrating this extreme dutch angle, you will create extreme drama and extreme dynamic composition in your photo.
7. Aggressive flash
I am a huge fan of street photography with a flash. To be frank, if you shoot with a flash, you must be aggressive. But you can be both aggressive and friendly when you’re shooting street photography.
For example the above photo, while I’m going down the escalator, I shot the photo of the woman with a flash. She actually apologized to me, and I smiled and told her, “Oh no problem!”
8. Finger pointing
Another realization when studying Godfather (in Part 1 and Part 2), moments of heightened drama come from finger-pointing.
When you’re shooting street photography, wait, and linger, and keep shooting when you see interesting hand gestures, or people pointing fingers!
9. Compliment your subject while you’re shooting them
You don’t always need to ask for permission when shooting street photography. What you can do is this:
When you find an interesting subject, start shooting away, and start chatting with your subject while you’re photographing them.
This way you can get best of both worlds — you can interact with your subject, while also not getting rejected.
10. Shoot street photography inside elevators
Something that causes me anxiety, but is a great street photo opportunity:
When an elevator is filled with people and subjects, shoot photos.
Specifically, when you’re entering a full elevator, start shooting away!
This is a great way to fill the frame with your subjects, and with interesting faces and subjects.
I love tips in photography. Why? Tips are just suggestions and ideas; they’re not right or wrong. You can take them or leave them.
So with all of street photography, realize that all the ‘advice’ you get should be tips. Experiment with your street photography approach, and figure out what works for you!
Learn more: Street Photography 101 >
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