Top Street Photography Tips for Beginners: Practical Advice to Improve Your Skills
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


1. Understanding Street Photography

2. Best Street Photography Tips for Beginners

3. Capturing Street Life

4. Overcoming Challenges in Street Photography

5. Editing and Sharing Your Street Photography

Are you eager to capture the beauty and essence of daily life in the city? Look no further! This blog will guide you through the best street photography tips for beginners, helping you improve your skills and create stunning images. Let's dive in!

1. Understanding Street Photography

First things first, it's important to understand what street photography is all about. This genre of photography aims to capture the essence of everyday life on the streets, showcasing human interactions, emotions, and the urban environment. Let's explore some key aspects and history of street photography.

History of Street Photography

Street photography has been around since the invention of cameras in the 19th century. Early pioneers include French photographer Charles Nègre and American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. With the introduction of smaller, portable cameras in the 20th century, such as Leica, this genre became more accessible to a wider audience. Today, street photography continues to evolve with digital cameras, smartphones, and social media platforms.

Some memorable moments in street photography history include:

  • The Parisian streets captured by Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1930s
  • Robert Frank's influential book, The Americans, published in 1959
  • Garry Winogrand's candid portrayal of New York City in the 1960s and 1970s

Elements of Street Photography

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to street photography, but there are some common elements that many photographers strive for. These include:

  • Candidness: Capturing people in their natural state, without posing or direction
  • Composition: Using framing, lines, and patterns to create visually appealing images
  • Storytelling: Conveying a narrative or emotion through a single image
  • Timing: Being in the right place at the right time to capture a unique moment

By focusing on these elements, you can create powerful images that resonate with viewers and capture the spirit of the street.

Inspiring Street Photographers

There are countless street photographers who have left their mark on the genre, but some stand out as particularly influential or inspiring. These photographers can serve as valuable sources of inspiration and learning for beginners. Here are a few notable names:

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson: Known for his concept of "the decisive moment," Cartier-Bresson captured fleeting moments on the streets with impeccable timing and composition.
  • Vivian Maier: A nanny by profession, Maier's incredible street photography was discovered posthumously, revealing a hidden talent for capturing the human experience.
  • Joel Meyerowitz: A pioneer of color street photography, Meyerowitz's work showcases the vibrancy and energy of city life.

By studying the work of these and other street photographers, you can learn valuable techniques and gain inspiration for your own journey into street photography.

2. Best Street Photography Tips for Beginners

Now that you have a solid understanding of street photography, let’s explore the best street photography tips for beginners. These practical suggestions will help you hone your skills, build confidence, and create captivating images.

Choosing Your Camera

While any camera can be used for street photography, some features can make your experience more enjoyable and efficient. When selecting a camera, consider:

  • Size and weight: A compact, lightweight camera is easier to carry around and less obtrusive on the street.
  • Image quality: Look for a camera with good low-light performance and dynamic range to capture the ever-changing street environment.
  • Autofocus speed: A fast autofocus system helps you capture fleeting moments.

Many street photographers choose mirrorless cameras or premium compact cameras for their blend of performance and portability. However, don't be discouraged if you only have a smartphone — you can still capture stunning street photos with practice and creativity.

Mastering Camera Settings

Understanding your camera settings is key to capturing great street photos. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Aperture priority mode (A/Av): This mode lets you control the depth of field, while the camera determines the shutter speed. It's useful for achieving the desired level of background blur.
  • Shutter priority mode (S/Tv): This mode allows you to control the shutter speed, freezing or blurring motion as needed. It's handy for capturing fast-paced street scenes.
  • ISO: Adjust the ISO according to lighting conditions. A higher ISO may be necessary in low light, but be mindful of noise.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different settings to find what works best for your style and the specific conditions you're shooting in.

Developing Your Eye

Developing a keen eye for compelling scenes is essential in street photography. Here are some ideas to help you train your eye:

  • Observe: Spend time simply observing your surroundings. Look for interesting compositions, interactions, and moments.
  • Study: Examine the work of great street photographers and note what aspects make their images captivating.
  • Practice: The more you shoot, the better your eye will become at spotting unique opportunities. So, get out there and start snapping!

Remember, developing your eye takes time and patience, so be kind to yourself and enjoy the process.

Practicing Techniques

Mastering specific techniques can help elevate your street photography. Here are a few to consider:

  • Zone Focusing: Pre-focus your lens to a specific distance, allowing you to capture images quickly without waiting for autofocus.
  • Shoot from the hip: Instead of raising the camera to your eye, shoot from a lower angle. This can create interesting perspectives and help you remain inconspicuous.
  • Use reflections: Incorporate reflections from windows, puddles, or mirrors to add depth and interest to your images.

Experiment with these techniques and others to find what works best for you and your style.

3. Capturing Street Life

Armed with your camera and newfound knowledge, it's time to hit the streets and start capturing the world around you. Let's explore some tips for approaching subjects, capturing emotion, and documenting street scenes.

3. Capturing Street Life

Now that you're equipped with some of the best street photography tips for beginners, it's time to dive into the heart of street photography: capturing the vibrant life that unfolds around you. In this section, we'll delve into approaching subjects, capturing emotion, and documenting street scenes.

Approaching Subjects

One of the most important aspects of street photography is knowing how to approach subjects. Here are some tips to make it less daunting:

  • Confidence: Believe in yourself and your abilities. People tend to respond positively to confidence, making it easier to approach them.
  • Body language: Be aware of your body language. A relaxed and friendly demeanor can put your subjects at ease.
  • Smile: A simple smile can go a long way in breaking the ice and establishing a connection with your subject.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you approach people, the more natural it will become — and the more captivating images you'll capture.

Capturing Emotion

Emotion is a powerful element in street photography. It's what connects the viewer to the image and makes it memorable. Here are some tips to help you capture emotion in your street photos:

  • Timing: Be patient and wait for the right moment. Anticipate when an emotional scene might unfold and be ready to capture it.
  • Eye contact: Eyes are the windows to the soul. Capturing a subject's eyes can reveal raw emotions and create a connection with the viewer.
  • Storytelling: Use your images to tell a story. Look for elements and compositions that convey emotion and invite the viewer to imagine what's happening.

Keep in mind that capturing emotion requires practice and a keen eye for detail. So, stay observant and always be ready to seize the moment.

Documenting Street Scenes

Street photography is about capturing the essence of everyday life. Documenting street scenes can provide a glimpse into the world around us and preserve moments in time. Here are some tips to help you document street scenes effectively:

  • Look for contrasts: Contrasting elements, such as light and shadow or old and new, can create visually striking images.
  • Include context: Make sure to include elements that provide context to the scene, such as buildings, signs, or landmarks.
  • Layering: Compose your images with multiple layers of interest, such as a foreground subject, a middle ground, and a background. This adds depth and dimension to your photos.

Don't forget to experiment with different perspectives and compositions. This will help you develop your own unique style and capture captivating images that stand out from the crowd.

4. Overcoming Challenges in Street Photography

As you venture into the exciting world of street photography, you'll inevitably face some challenges. Don't worry, though — with the right mindset and some of the best street photography tips for beginners, you'll be well-equipped to tackle these hurdles. In this section, we'll discuss dealing with rejection, respecting privacy, and staying safe while out on the streets.

Dealing with Rejection

Rejection is a natural part of street photography — not everyone will be comfortable having their picture taken. But don't let it discourage you! Here are some tips to help you handle rejection gracefully:

  • Stay positive: Remember, a rejection is not a reflection of your skills or worth as a photographer. Keep your spirits high and move on to the next opportunity.
  • Learn from it: Use rejection as a learning experience. Ask yourself what you could have done differently, and apply those insights to future situations.
  • Respect their wishes: If someone doesn't want their photo taken, respect their choice. There are plenty of other amazing subjects out there waiting to be captured.

By approaching rejection with a positive attitude, you'll continue to grow and improve as a street photographer.

Respecting Privacy

As a street photographer, it's important to remember that you're capturing real people in real situations. Respecting privacy is a must. Here's how you can balance your artistic vision with the rights of your subjects:

  • Be mindful of your surroundings: Avoid photographing private moments or situations that could put someone in a vulnerable position.
  • Ask for permission: When in doubt, it's always better to ask for permission before taking a photo. This shows respect and can even lead to a more genuine connection with your subject.
  • Follow local laws and regulations: Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations in the area you're photographing. This will help you stay within legal boundaries while pursuing your passion.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you'll maintain a strong ethical foundation in your street photography practice.

Staying Safe

When you're out capturing the essence of urban life, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while practicing street photography:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: Pay attention to what's happening around you. Stay alert and be prepared for any unexpected situations.
  • Trust your instincts: If something doesn't feel right, trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation.
  • Blend in: Dress appropriately for the area you're in, and avoid drawing attention to yourself or your equipment. This will help you stay inconspicuous and minimize potential risks.

With these safety measures in mind, you can focus on honing your skills and capturing the best street photography moments.

As you continue to develop your skills, remember to always stay open to learning and growing. Embrace the challenges that come your way, and use the Best Street Photography Tips for Beginners to help guide you on your journey. Happy shooting!

5. Editing and Sharing Your Street Photography

Now that you've captured some amazing street moments, it's time to polish your images and share your work with the world. In this section, we'll explore post-processing tips, building your portfolio, and sharing your work. Remember, the Best Street Photography Tips for Beginners include not only shooting but also showcasing your artistry.

Post-Processing Tips

Editing your street photography can help you enhance the emotions and stories captured in your images. Here are some key tips to keep in mind during post-processing:

  • Be subtle: Avoid over-editing your photos. Subtle adjustments to exposure, contrast, and colors can make a significant difference without distorting the image's authenticity.
  • Control your highlights and shadows: Street photography often involves challenging lighting conditions. Use tools like the "shadows/highlights" adjustment to bring out hidden details and balance your images.
  • Experiment with black and white: Converting your photos to black and white can emphasize textures, shapes, and emotions — giving your street photography a timeless feel.

Remember, editing is an essential part of your creative process, so don't be afraid to explore and experiment with different techniques.

Building Your Portfolio

A well-curated portfolio showcases your skills and helps you stand out. Here are some suggestions for building a captivating street photography portfolio:

  • Select your best work: Choose the images that best represent your style, vision, and talents. Quality is more important than quantity, so be selective.
  • Organize your portfolio: Arrange your images in a way that flows naturally, allowing viewers to appreciate your storytelling abilities.
  • Update regularly: Keep your portfolio fresh by adding new work and replacing older images with stronger ones. This shows that you're constantly evolving and improving.

A strong portfolio not only attracts attention but also showcases your growth as a street photographer.

Sharing Your Work

Sharing your street photography with others can be both rewarding and inspiring. Here's how you can get your work out there:

  • Utilize social media: Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr are perfect for sharing your images and connecting with fellow street photographers.
  • Join photography communities: Participate in online forums and groups where you can share your work, receive feedback, and network with other photographers.
  • Submit to contests and exhibitions: Entering your work in competitions and exhibitions can help you gain exposure and recognition, as well as valuable experience.

By sharing your work, you'll not only inspire others but also continue learning and growing through feedback and interaction with fellow photographers.

In conclusion, the journey of mastering street photography is filled with exciting opportunities for growth and self-discovery. By following the Best Street Photography Tips for Beginners, you'll be well on your way to capturing the beauty and complexity of urban life. So, go out there, embrace the challenges, and share your unique vision with the world!

If you're eager to improve your street photography skills and want to learn more practical tips, check out the workshop 'Street Photography with the iPhone' by Hannah La Follette Ryan. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques for capturing stunning street photography using just your iPhone.