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Making and Breaking the Rules of Street Photography to Get Images that Impress

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Street photography is one of the trendiest types of art around. It’s represents the times giving it a modern edge and it gains vintage appeal as it ages. Plus, with street photography, you never know what gems you might find.

But street photography takes a certain eye. You have to be bold and inventive. You must have the ability to see potential in what’s around you, even when nothing exciting seems to be happening.

If you are looking to try your hand at street photography, here are some things you will want to keep in mind.

Is Street Photography Legal?

Yes, street photography is legal. However, you can run into gray areas if you try to use the images for commercial purposes. If you are selling the pictures or plan to use them in ads, etc. you need to get the model’s permission. Otherwise, you may end up getting sued.

Now that we got the boring stuff out of the way, let’s focus on how to get the best images possible.

Do You Need to Photograph People?

Street photography typically features people involved in some kind of action, but it doesn’t have to. With this in mind, a landscape shot would not be considered street photography. Rather, you want to capture something that is indicative of the city’s personality such as store signs, shadows on the street or the sun reflecting off the side of a building.

Do You Need to Photograph People’s Faces?

Faces have emotions that can make or break street photography, but that doesn’t mean you have to use faces in every picture. As a matter of fact, taking a picture of people backs, perhaps in a crowd scene, can bring the atmosphere of the environment to life.

You can also take pictures of peoples’ hands, an item of clothing or the side of their face to tell a story without using facial expressions. 

It’s Not About Luck

Some photographers think that great street photography is all about luck. They think that if you are fortunate enough to be caught in the middle of the action, you will get a great photograph. If not, too bad.

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

To take great street photographs, all you need is a little bit of creativity and a great eye. Some out of the box thinking will help you see the potential in everyday objects and situations. It will allow you to use angles and take advantage of lighting to get shots that convey a story even if you have to invent one yourself.

Let Your Personality Come into Play

Some people think that you have to be bold to be a great street photographer. After all, if you are taking pictures of people you don’t know, you have to have the guts to approach them.

While it’s true that a strong personality might help you get certain shots, there are ways to get around this. You can use zoom lenses to get close ups from a distance. You can stand in one position and let people come to you. You may also choose to leave people out of your photos entirely.

It’s Not Always About the Extraordinary

Many street photographers focus on the unique. If they see a person that looks unusual or a scene that’s out of the ordinary, they will instantly take a shot. If the shot is well framed, it can make an interesting piece.

But the true talent of a street photographer comes into play when you can make the ordinary look extraordinary. With this kind of eye, you can photograph anything and make it appear intriguing.

Now that you are armed with this information, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start taking some great pics. 

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