Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Art Of Urban/Street Photography - 20 useful tips

I have made a conscious decision to try and improve my urban/street photography.  I have a great passion for life in villages, towns and cities, and want to learn how to capture the true emotions of the people. the locations and the buildings.  I would dearly like to be able to take photographs that do not end up as "pretty" pictures but instead provide an image that tells a story.  I am now embarking on a journey to discover the techniques and approaches that will lead me to improve my work.

My first step is to undertake some research and find out what general information is available.  As a taster, these are the top 20 tips that I have so far able to find regarding street/urban photography. 

If you have any words of advice, please be more than welcome to leave a comment at the end of this article.

The photographs used in this article were all taken by myself, Graham Ettridge (apart from the first one, of course).  Once I have completed my research and self development within this field of photography, I will write another article to show how/if my photographic technique has changed.

I hope you find the following tips of use.


Graham Ettridge.

1. Less is More – don’t take too much equipment and travel light. It’ll make you less obtrusive and you will be able to move around for the best shot quickly.

2. Off the Beaten Track – don’t just go to all the touristy shots – try to get ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘real life’ scenes.

3. Stolen Moments – anticipate moments between people before they happen.

4. True Colours – black and white is often where it’s at with street photography but at times colourful situations arise and can really make a shot – be on the look out for these.

5. In the Background – what’s going on behind your subject can actually ‘make’ the shot. Billboards, signs, graffiti and other visual elements can really make a statement in a shot.

6. Dare to Go Diagonal – don’t just hold your camera horizontally – experiment with angles. Street photography is a less formal medium – make the most of it.

7. Opposites Attract – shots which challenge the ‘norm’ in terms of composition and story/subject matter can be powerful. Look out for ‘surprising’ subject matter and composition.

8. What a Performance – street performers, parades and other street entertainment can be great subject matter on the street.

9. Off the Streets – other places where people gather in number can lead to great shots in this genre – zoos, fairs, shows, parks, sporting events etc all can be worth trying.

10.New Angle – find ways to get up high or down low – these new perspectives on subjects that are familiar can lead to eye catching shots.

11.Practise makes Perfect – over time and with practise your photography will improve. You’ll not only get better at technique but also spotting the things to focus upon on the street.

12.Fortune Favours the Brave – sometimes the best thing you can do is to get close to your subject – this can be a little confronting but will produce powerful images

13.Fun in the Sun – often we try to avoid shooting into the sun and the shadows that direct sunlight can produce – in street photography breaking these ‘rules’ can lead to great shots.

14.Ready to Pounce – have your camera out and ready to shoot at all times. Things can move quickly on the street so if you’re not ready you’ll miss lots of opportunities.

15. Revise the Revisit – street photography is not all about spontaneity – if you see a scene with potential don’t be afraid to keep coming back to it until you get the shot.

16.Frozen Motion – the street is a place of movement – to capture it and still get sharp shots make sure your shutter speed is fast enough. 1/125 or more with an ISO of 400 is what this article recommended as a base. I also think it can be fun to experiment with slower shutter speeds on the street – capture the movement as blur.

17.Street Wallpaper – blend in with the scene – shoot unobtrusively and unnoticed.

18.Life Through a Lens – ‘exaggerating perspective will help set your subject in context and provide a more forgiving depth of field’ – use a wide angle lens (or even a fisheye).

19.Expect the Expected – people can be suspicious of street photographers so shoot in places where people expect to see people doing photography. Smile, be polite and be willing to delete images if people protest.

20.Location, Location, Location – really this is what it is all about. Choose places where people interact with one another and times when they are present.


Cocaine Princess said...

Wow! Awesome shots Graham! Pics #4&20 remind me of something from the films "Hugo" and "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnuss."

I love the use the of the red color against the black and white shots. The picture totally pops/

Getty72 said...

Hey there CP! Thank you so much :) I really do enjoy the energy and history of London, and it is soooo photogenic in every sense. Those two pics you mentioned are to of my all time favs. I am really glad you like them too!

Michelle said...

My faves are #7 and 17. I have been practicing with my cheap point and shoot camera. I love the tips and will try to use some of them next time I get a chance too.

Alexandre1 said...

Uuuh hey!

I just found this! Thanx for your work, it is really helpful! :)

Kind regards from Berlin,

Graham's Photobook....Through The Eyes Of A Dreamer

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