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How to do Street Photography

Updated on March 16, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!

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Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source
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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Street photography is the technique or better yet, the art of taking photographs of people in places. Most often in the streets, in parks, on public places and often without the subjects being aware that their photographs are being captured in film or sensor forever.

The technique usually involves setting the camera on hyper-focus, using a relatively fast ISO rated film or setting in a D.S.L.R and a 50mm to 55mm lens, although many street photographers prefer a wide angle lens in the range of 30mm.

Most photographers in this genre do not aim and focus on their subject; rather they aim at a general area or subject and just shoot, with the aid of a fast shutter speed. It is also typical for street photographers to take many shots before obtaining one that is of publishable quality. The fun is to find out what is in the image after it's developed/downloaded. Keep in mind that people do not have to be the only subjects, animals and things can also be included or used by themselves.

Similar to other types of photography such as candid and very similar to vernacular, street photography attempts to show a moment in life in which nothing is planned, posed or arranged. Like suddenly opening up a window and seeing what's in front of you, or in front of the lens in this case.

No especial equipment other than a SLR camera and a keen eye is required, but having luck and patience are always a plus because a large portion of their work often comes about due to being in the right place at the right time.

Street photography is very similar to social documentary photography, but in the latter the object is to show the plight of a social class, the human condition. Poverty, the conditions of refugees, homelessness and many other social issues make the mainstay for social documentary photographers.

Street photography's focus is in capturing images that reflect a society in various stages; at play, at work, having fun, but especially its main intent is on capturing photographs that depict everyday and commonplace people in commonplace and everyday situations.

A street photographer does not usually have an agenda, the photos mainly happen by coincidence. There is no concerted effort in documenting a series of events, since it is not documentary photography, and there is no specific subject matter. The photographer may aim to show humor, awkwardness, ambiguity or to illicit another emotion.

Is there a market for street photography? Like any other photographic genre the answer is yes. The markets for street photography are art galleries, book publishers, social organizations and government agencies. Most street photographers consider themselves as pure artists and shoot exclusively with the intent of presenting their work at art events, galleries and to submit their work to art magazines.

Perhaps more than in any other photo style, these photographers work as independent photographers or free lancers as they are most commonly known, and occasionally work on assignments. With that said, street photography was born for book publishing purposes and probably as an offshoot of the early newspaper photographer's needs.

The laws concerning this type of photography are similar to other types of photography but as far as the legality of taking photos of people without their consent, the laws vary and have been changing in recent times.

"The laws regarding the recording of other persons and property by means of still photography, videography, and audio recording vary by location. In many places, it is common for the recording of public property, persons within the public domain, and of private property visible or audible from the public domain to be legal. But laws have been passed in many places restricting such activity in order to protect the privacy of others. To make matters even more complicated, in many places and in many situations, the laws governing still photography may be vastly different that the laws governing any type of motion picture photography." Wikipedia

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      LeTotten: Thank you

    • LeTotten profile image

      LeAnna Totten 4 years ago

      As a photographer I enjoyed this hub! I found the video on the DOs & DONTs of photography informative but also very funny.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Luis, I am learning more about capturing random strangers in photographs, as it has come up in my photography quite by accident! I am learning to be more patient and use a tripod. Using the self timer mode, I would wait the seconds to capture that perfect photo, only to find someone else came and got right in the picture. I loved how it turned out.

      In the past, I have never thought to take photos of people for some reason, like I wondered if it would be rude or they wouldn't want it. It just didn't sit right for some reason. Thus, I am learning about it now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

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      street photography 6 years ago

      Street photography generally refers to photographs taken from the public places like streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and other same places.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments.

    • Radioguy profile image

      Radioguy 6 years ago from Maine

      Great job! I like B/W photography most of all.

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      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Thanks again for the tips. I just recently tried taking "street" pictures. For some reason, I didn't feel comfortable taking shots of people I didn't know. Following your tips though will give that stately old building/street a bit more context. And changing angles on the people. That's a doh! right? lol!

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 6 years ago from Central United States

      Thanks for your input it's greatly appreciated. This gives me a little more leeway to do what I want.

      Thanks again

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida


      Generally speaking, if you take photos of streets, buildings or anything that is on a public thoroughfare, including storefronts, can be used without a model's or property release. If the photos are taken of the insides then a release is required. Photos of people that are taken in a public thoroughfare are also OK to use without a release. Common sense is if the person objects to having his or her photo taken plus the person can be reasonably recognized then is not acceptable to use the photos.

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 6 years ago from Central United States

      I had been wondering if the pictures I plan on taking this weekend will be able to be used. I still don't know who to call as they are to be taken in a different state than which I live. Guess I will try harder to not shoot recognizable buildings and people from the back.

      Thanks for the information.