Top Tips for Street Photography

By Geoff Harris

Finding great candid shots of people


There is a world of difference between photos of people posing for a picture, and photos of people going about their daily life, unaware of the photographer’s presence. These more candid shots can make for powerful, evocative images. This can be especially exciting if you’re travelling in an unfamiliar country, when this type of photography can really come into its own.


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The first thing I would say though is that I would never condone being intrusive, or voyeuristic, or in any way taking an image of someone that would distress them if they knew about it.

So how can you increase your chances of success with street photographs? It will be easier if you’re in a location where lots of people have cameras – you will stand out a lot less when you’re surrounded by camera-toting tourists. This will make it much easier to take a photo unnoticed.

A telephoto lens will also help with this, by giving a greater distance between you and your subject. If you have a camera with a tiltable viewfinder things will be even easier, as you won’t draw nearly as much attention to yourself if you’re looking down, instead of looking straight at your subject. In this case you may be able to take a closer pic with a wide angle lens, which can provide a strong image with lots of environment around the person.

Be prepared in advance by putting the settings on your camera that should work in your situation – think about what sort of depth of field you’re likely to want and set the right aperture for this. Then set the ISO to a high enough number to mean that you won’t have to worry about camera shake or subject movement at the shutter speeds you’re likely to be getting.

Alternatively, allow for longer shutter speeds and enjoy some subject movement, or panning to follow your subject.

If you see a particularly attractive setting, consider setting up your shot and waiting until someone positions themselves in the right place within it.

There are lots of different options – the trick is to plan in advance as much as you can, so that you won’t miss the moment when it arrives!

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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