What is street photography?


This is a topic/conversation that has been discussed for decades. And in the age of the internet everyone can give their view on it.

I want to share a few ways to shoot street photography for those who are interested in it but never really gone out with the intention to shoot street.

How do you define street photography?

A photograph of people on a street? A photograph taken in a public space? A photograph of a person without permission asked? A photograph of a building? The possibilities are endless and I think the term Street Photography has a very broad meaning.

To me it means candid photography taken in public/private places of people/environment. Me saying this could really cause a debate with purists but how can it really be definitively defined?

Photographers like Garry Winogrand really paved the way to what we know street photography to be today. To document the Human condition.

Above are three images I have taken this year. They aren’t special or amazing but they are three pictures I would say fall into ‘My’ definition of street photography.

- The 1st image is in public, with people, and taken without the permission of anyone.

- The 2nd image is a field, man made object, my shadow. Most will say its a landscape picture but for me its showing the effects of humans on the landscape.

- 3rd image is an apron. Its in public, no people… Given what is on the apron and how the store owner decided to put the wedding photographs of a royal wedding shows how the times have changed. If it were 60 years ago, maybe even less. An apron like this would never be put side by side with pictures of royals. So for me its a documentation on the change in humans and what is socially acceptable.

Regardless of the lack of people in x2 of the above pictures, they all show proof of humanity in one form or another.

Some street photographers often didn’t like the term “Street Photographer” and would have preferred to just be a photographer.

I wouldn’t call myself a street photographer, I rather say I’m a documentary photographer. I consider every picture I’ve made to be a documentation of my life and of the world I live. Weather its on the street or not!

Don’t pay too much attention to the definitions to be honest. Shoot what you want to shoot and be happy with what you are doing.

Are you just starting out with street/documentary photography?

Here are some personal pointers to get you started..

  • Shoot what interests you

  • Shoot with focal lengths from 28mm - 50mm. There are no rules to say you can’t shoot with an 85mm or more but the best pictures are shot closer and therefore make you viewer feel more connected. My preferred focal length is 35mm (and 50mm from time to time)

  • No ‘BOKEH’ as they say. Shoot at apertures of F8 up. The more in focus, the better the composition/story.

  • Don’t worry about being all Bruce Gilden, his style is very unique and challenging to accomplish.

  • Don’t be too concerned about the gear/camera, if it does the job and makes your photography enjoyable, crack on!

  • Find inspiration and learn from the masters

  • Work on personal projects, they really help define your style of shooting

  • Take a look at Eric Kim’s blog, some really great information on the whole topic of street photography.

  • Have fun with it!

There are a lot of resources on line regarding street photography. It is a real hard discipline to master but it is well worth taking the time to learn and practice!