Personal Street Photography

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

Dear friend,

Recently I’ve been trying to combine two of my biggest passions in photography — street photography and personal photography.

When we create a hybrid between these two genres of photography, we get “Personal Street Photography.”

What is personal street photography?

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

To me, the biggest problem I find in street photography is that we photograph random things in the streets— things which aren’t interesting, useful, or personal to us. We try to photograph for others— we make street photos that we hope will get a lot of likes/comments/and favorites on social media.

To shoot personal street photography is to only photograph what appeals in your heart. To use your street photography as a tool to empathize with your subject. To show your own soul through the photos you shoot of others.

For example, I tend to be a social critic. I am optimistic, but also pessimistic of the cage of society. I see a lot of other individuals trapped in jobs they hate, relationships which stifle them, and societal rules which force them to conform.

In a lot of my “Dark Skies Over Tokyo” series — I tried to document the lives of the Japanese who I felt were trapped, miserable, and lost. I tried to empathize with them using my camera as an emotional tool.

For you, how do you see the world? What makes your perspective different or unique from others?

What do you want to say through your street photos? And are you the only one who can do it?

Tips to shoot personal street photography

Tokyo, 2016
Tokyo, 2016

Some tips for shooting personal street photography:

  1. Follow your gut: only photograph what you think is interesting (rather than thinking what others might find interesting)
  2. Use the least obtrusive camera possible: always have a camera with you, and when you photograph, try your best to capture the right moment, with the right emotion, with the least concern about technical details.
  3. Ask yourself: “Do I like the photo?” before asking others what they think.
  4. Use an aesthetic which conveys your mood (contrasty black and white for darker images, or more vibrant color photos for more positive images).
  5. Discover which images are personal to you through the “editing” phase— decide which images to keep and which to ditch.

Keep your street photographs personal to you, and never to forget the point of being a great street photographer is to reveal your emotion and soul through the strangers you document.


Learn more: Street Photography 101 >