How to Shoot Travel Street Photography

Currently walking the streets of Mexico City, enjoying street photography both on my RICOH GR II x ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP, as well as LUMIX G9 x HENRI Wrist Strap PRO.

1. Smile, walk, say hello to strangers

Generally speaking when you’re shooting street photography, best to walk around with a smile!

When you’re out and about and shoot street photography with a smile, strangers are less suspicious of you. Furthermore you feel more confidence, because you know you’re not doing anything wrong!

If someone catches you photographing them, just smile and tell them “thank you” (in the local language).

For example here in Mexico City, whenever someone catches me photographing them, I just smile and say “gracias!” 99% of people smile back as a result! And this positive attitude will be a good stimulus to you shooting more!

2. Shoot in neighborhoods you actually like to hang out in!

Roma Norte, Mexico City 2019

For myself I like to hang out in hipster neighborhoods, with trendy coffee shops and restaurants. I dislike touristy areas.

Thus I’m far more productive in my street photography when I simply hang around in the neighborhood I like, and just bring the camera along!

3. Shoot street photography inside restaurants

Don’t just shoot in the streets, when you’re eating out, shoot inside in the restaurants!

For myself when I’m traveling I like to eat at both fancy restaurants and street food. To me this is interesting, because you get a wider variety of social classes of people.

For example in Mexico City, there are a lot of really rich people, but most of us traveling photographers only shoot the poor people on the streets.

It is probably more “scary” to shoot people with higher social class, because we are afraid of getting yelled at. But I think we street photographers must photograph more upper class people, if we want to make more faithful and socially-accurate photos while traveling abroad.

4. Close quarters

I encourage you to shoot inside crowded markets, crowded streets, where you can get very close to your subjects and photograph them. For example shoot in indoor markets with a 24mm or 28mm lens, and get very close (no zoom or telephoto).

5. Don’t worry about ethics

I think a lot of us street photographers become paralyzed because we feel ethically “evil” or “bad” for photographing others who we perceive to be “less fortunate” than ourselves.

However I say this thinking is hypocritical, because who are we to even rank poorer people as “lesser” than us?

Solution: Photograph anyone and everyone equally (the poor, rich, middle class, etc).

6. Allow yourself to shoot touristy photos

There is a bias in street photography that we must only shoot “serious” photos. I say fuck that; shoot anything you want! Shoot selfies, photograph your food, or anything which is a visual stimulus to you.

Just shoot a bunch of photos when traveling, and figure out what to do with the photos later.

7. Enjoy yourself

When I first traveled I got suckered into over-expectations (thinking I’d make the most epic street photos while abroad).

I say have no expectations of making good street photos when traveling abroad. Less pressure is good, because you will probably perform better in your photography when you don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself when traveling and shooting.

Conclusion: Focus on your travel experience over photography

I say use your travel opportunity in order to think more, walk more, learn more about foreign cultures and people, and to have a richer experience. Photography is secondary.