How to Shoot Mall Street Photography

I love going to the mall and shooting street photography there!

Why shoot at the mall?

Inside elevator at Tokyo mall. Shot RICOH GR II

Reasons why to shoot street photography at the mall:

  1. You can pretend to be a tourist just photographing store fronts and products
  2. If you live in the suburbs, and there isn’t really any downtown areas to shoot, the mall is a good place to walk and photograph strangers.
  3. You see an interesting mix of people at the mall: Technically the mall is one of the most democratic places to visit, because you will see people from all walks of life. The rich and poor both go to the mall, and nobody is denied entrance to a store based on their wealth. Thus I like photographing the diversity at the mall.
  4. If you live in a hot place, the mall often has free air conditioning! Or if you live somewhere cold (Vancouver), the mall is a free heater!
  5. Good place to practice shooting street photography with a flash, because the mall is already quite bright, which means you won’t blind your subjects when you’re shooting with a flash. Also you can pretend to be a tourist in the mall when shooting with a flash.

1. Shoot escalators

Shot inside tokyo mall with flash, while riding escalators.

Make photos while riding escalators, because you will find interesting reflections, geometry, and leading lines.

Shot at outdoor Santa Monica mall, while riding up the escalator

2. Layers

Saigon Center Mall, 2018

Look for interesting store fronts, and wait until you get someone in the middle ground and foreground to practice shooting layers in street photography.

3. Bars

Rooftop bar in Hanoi Lotte Tower

If the mall has a bar, shoot there! You will see lots of interesting folks, and often interesting interior decor.

4. Shoot inside stores

Genius Bar apple store
Photo inside Apple Store. South Coast Center Mall, Costa Mesa, 2018. Shot on Fujifilm XF10 with flash.

Technically you’re not supposed to shoot photos inside stores, but I do it anyways. You will often find MORE interesting things to shoot inside stores!

Apple store. Shot with permission.

I also encourage you to experiment shooting with a flash inside a store, because you can probably get away with it. And if someone asks you to stop shooting photos, you can just apologize, play dumb, and leave.

Apple store, 2014. Shot with Flash on Kodak Portra 400

Conclusion: The world is your oyster

Tokyo mall, shot with Flash on RICOH GR II

The beauty of street photography is that you can shoot it anywhere, and everywhere! Just photograph where the people are, whether in the streets, whether in stores, at the casino, at the mall, inside a cruise ship, etc. Perhaps one day we can do spaceship street photography?