I make my living teaching street photography workshops how to conquer your fears in street photography and life. Why? Because fearlessness is one of the most important traits in life to get what you want.
“Street photography is 99% courage.” – ERIC KIM
1. You’ll always have (some) fear
To have some fear and trepidations in street photography is natural. It will always be with you. But when I say fearless, I mean to say:
Don’t let fear get in the way of you making a photo.
My biggest regrets always happen when I am too nervous or hesitate before shooting a street photo. Fear is bad in street photography if it causes you to hesitate before hitting the shutter (thus, missing the decisive moment), or just prevents you from shooting the scene at all.
2. Photograph kids
I know a lot of street photographers who hesitate to photograph children. Why? Because they’re afraid of being called a creep, pedophile, or getting parents angry at them. But this is what I say:
Photograph children, or any human being which sparks joy.
First of all, factually you’re not a pedophile. So don’t be afraid of being falsely accused.
Secondly, there are no laws which bar you from photographing kids. Whoever says a law is making it up (even in Europe and the UK— it’s a grey area, but essentially it’s fine).
If you’re scared, just ask the parents for permission and offer to email the photos to the parent.
If you want to shoot photos of kids without permission, just photograph the kids, smile, say hello to the kids and wave to them, and smile at their parents!
Or just snap a few quick photos without saying anything to anyone.
3. Photograph beautiful people
Another sentiment I’ve heard:
I’m afraid of photographing women, or beautiful people.
The easiest solution:
If someone you photograph asks what you’re doing, just say “You look great!” or “I love your look and style!”
Compliments diffuse any problem scenarios. Or you can always ask for permission.
4. Shoot with RICOH GR III or iPhone Pro
I’ve shot with all the cameras out there, and it seems the best low-key cameras for street photography are the RICOH GR III and iPhone Pro. I consider both cameras superior to anything else on the market — including all the Sony cameras, Fujifilm cameras, and even Leica cameras.
- On college campuses
- In the subway
- At the mall
- At the grocery store
- In the streets
- In hotel lobbies
- In the elevator
- At the Apple store
- At restaurants and coffee shops
RICOH GR III photos with 21mm adapter, shot JPEG high contrast monochrome:
iPhone Pro photos shot in noir mode:
And of course the infamous RICOH GR II:
No street photographer is born overnight. It’s all about practice, repetitions, and an iterative learning process!