Street Photography How To

I came up with this list with the intention to share what techniques, ideas and, approaches that has worked for me in my pursuit into improving as a street photographer. All these are based on my experiences and had proven to work for me. Some are concepts that I may not have tried but I believe in the logic behind it thus, sharing it to you as well.

*Disclaimer: These may only work for me, a few of us, or everyone else. Read and digest. If you think you can use it, use it. If not, leave it. Always take it with a grain of salt.

Now, let's all learn how to do street photography! Here's a list that I wrote and hopefully this will organically grow as I progress. Take a look!

1. Which lens should you buy?

For beginners with a zoom lens but are itching to buy a new prime lens but are confused which on to choose what focal length to get- Use your zoom lens. Choose one focal length like 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, or whatever and stick to that for some time. Eventually switching to the next focal length until you find what suits you. It’s going to save you from buying the wrong lenses and at the same time you are bulking up your skills before actually moving on to the prime you want.

2. Focusing using smaller apertures.

 Notice how almost everything on this image is sharp or acceptably sharp. This is shot with aperture around f11 to f16.

Notice how almost everything on this image is sharp or acceptably sharp. This is shot with aperture around f11 to f16.

If you want everything within the frame in focus, set your lens aperture to f16. This will make the DOF (depth of field) cover a huge area making pretty much everything sharp and in focus. It’s a technique utilized mostly by street photographers as it allows you to take photographs without worrying too much about focusing on your subject.

3. When in doubt, shoot from the hip.

But you have to remember that you have a small chance of getting the shot you want because of the difficulty in composing a shot with your eyes away from the view finder, let alone a camera at your hip/ waist level.

 Shot this from the hip. Luck it's an acceptable composition, at least for my taste.

Shot this from the hip. Luck it's an acceptable composition, at least for my taste.

4. On dealing with confrontation.

If people asked you to delete their photo. First, try to explain why you took the photo nicely, also tell them you are a photographer/ street photographer and convince them to keep it. But if they still insist you to delete the photo, then don’t get high and mighty and just do it.

It would help if you have a business card to give them as it makes them think you are a professional. I don’t do it, but I can see why it can help you.

5. Shooting in Auto mode.

Shoot in auto modes such as aperture priority, shutter priority or P mode when you’re about capturing the moment. It’s a lot quicker and minimizes the chance of you missing the shot.

Pros: consistently fast, more time composing, more time capturing emotions/ actions of people

Cons: minimal to no control over the exposure.

Shoot in full manual if you are particular with exposing the shadows or highlights.

Pros: fast when you have set your exposure and focus beforehand. full control of exposure, allows you to control the mood of the image

Cons: can be slow especially if unprepared, tough for the inexperienced.

6. On Exposure Compensation.

When in auto mode (aperture or shutter priority) use exposure compensation if you want to under or over expose your image. This gives you more control if you are particular with the highlights or shadows.

7. Don’t worry about noise and grains when you shoot with high ISO.

 This is shot at ISO 3200. The noise is not bad at all. I was surprised when I took it. Heres the link to the image plus the Exif:  Click here!

This is shot at ISO 3200. The noise is not bad at all. I was surprised when I took it. Heres the link to the image plus the Exif: Click here!

Most cameras today are so advanced that it can handle this issue pretty well. Although I am most comfortable shooting at ISO 1600 to 3200.

8. Exercise No-chimping.

This is when you peek at you shots almost instantaneously after you took a photo. No-chimp allows you to focus on taking the shots and become more aware of your surroundings. Take a photo (or work the scene) then walk away, looking for the next possible shot. Just view the image when you’re on a break. There’s nothing you can do anyway.

9. Exposure Triangle.

Learn to get the right exposure before even taking the shot. This lets you focus on the actual taking of photographs. Figure out what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO you want. If you got it right, you’ll be just firing away like a mad man. Plus you don’t have to chimp so much.

10. Shoot with 1 lens only.

Doing this helps you avoid the dreaded “Analysis Paralysis”. This is when you cannot decide or you don’t know what your next move is because you analyze too much. Plus, having 1 lens to shoot with, you are able (or forced) to master your choice of focal length. You get to memorize the right distance of your subject which he or she will fit inside the frame without even looking through the viewfinder. You become so used to your set up that it becomes 2nd nature to you.

Check this article I wrote about using one lens: Advantages of shooting with one lens setup

11. Move on.

Don’t kick yourself too much if you end your day without a single good photo. It happens. It’s a reality that seasoned street photographers had faced and accepted. Sometimes nothing interesting just comes up. It’s normal.

12. Keep it easy on the upgrades.

While technology is getting better with each new camera version that gets released, most of it is only small increments but are magnified by marketing strategies. Don’t fall for it.  Big brands always release a new version of the previous cameras just like the mobile phone industry does. Then they will market upgrades like faster auto focus, better low light/ noise handling, bigger pixel count. Etc etc… But in reality, the increments are so little you can’t really feel or tell the difference. And in instances that you do feel it, it’s not really that much of a bump as compared to the price you pay. Skip one or more versions of the same camera and you’ll see the difference.

 Honestly, making the camera more compact, lighter, ergonomic, and generally easier to use is the more appealing upgrade for me. 

13. Learn to edit.

Don’t go opening your Facebook/ Instagram and smashing that upload button. Relax and learn to edit. Editing is a critical skill that photographers should learn and develop.

By the way. When I say edit, I meant the process of choosing and selecting your photos that you want to share and removing those you don’t like. It’s like doing a photo story. Just get those that will tell your story.

Say you went on a vacation and you want to share your photos. Go through with it first and select the best photos you have before uploading them for the people to see. The reason why editing is so important is that people sometimes tend to have a very short attention span. Show them good images with poor images in between, they start to lose interest. Once gone, they’re out.  Plus you can’t expect them to browse through your 300+ photos, do you?

Pls. Note: This is not a rule. I’m not stopping you to upload the entire photos you took. If you want to share them just for the sake of sharing, fine.  But if you are on a more serious side of photography,  and you want people to see the best side of your photos then editing is your friend.

 I took a handful of shots of this with varying angles and subjects. Narrowed my selection to this one picture.

I took a handful of shots of this with varying angles and subjects. Narrowed my selection to this one picture.

14. ( Hey you, yes, you! Wanna share some tips? Comment below)

It'll be nice if you can share your street photography tips here so everybody can try if it works! Comment it below!


That’s probably it for now. I’m gonna come up with some new sets of tips and tricks to share, but if you have something up your sleeve, please, please share it to me! I want to grow this list and hopefully become a viable source for beginners to help them improve themselves and to grow to be a an overall better photographer.

For the meantime, let’s step out our house and take some photographs!