8 tips on how to get better at street photography

© Jeff Mermelstein

The streets have always been a prime place for photographers to take beautiful shots, snapping unusual scenes or capturing the right angle at just the right time. The advantage of street photography is that it can be practiced at any time. Anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours, photo sessions must take place between the break of dawn and the setting of the sun. Here are some tips to enhance your street photography sessions:

1. Wake up early

Getting up early allows you to have free rein of the streets, which means you can observe the scene quietly and undisturbed. It also means you won’t be embarrassed by big crowds of people as may be the case at midday or late afternoon. Empty streets allow you to isolate your subject (an object, such as a lamppost, a building, a passer-by, etc.) Another advantage of getting up at the crack of dawn is the beautiful light, or “golden hour” when the sun is rising or setting. With a low sun early in the morning shadows will be accentuated and colors brighter. Finally, being early, you will definitely find other photographers about, which could become quite sociable, discussing your common interest!

New York at sunrise by Thalya Eilahtan

© Thalya Eilahtan (Pinterest)

2. Offer a different point of view

Street photography is so popular today, that an accomplished shot will be a sort of original cliche. A striking photo is a photo that stands out from the rest, and to achieve this, you will also stand out. The choice of angles is essential. Try to adopt different points of view that have already been taken, especially if you are photographing famous monuments or places in your city. Varying the angles and points of view of the snapshots will help you to come across an interesting angle that will catch people’s attention. Try varying the height and inclination of the camera too!

Kid street dancing by Martha Cooper

© Martha Cooper

3. Use lines and symmetry

You have probably already noticed that cities are full of lines - so use them! With buildings, streets, floor tiles and lamp posts, you’d be hard pushed to find a bigger variety to choose from. These lines give direction to your viewer and influence their perspective on the image.

Man running on top of trains by Martha Cooper

© Martha Cooper

4. Use reflections

If cities are filled with lines, then their reflections are full of as many lines, and if manipulated correctly, can produce great snapshots! Reflections can bring several effects to your shots. It may be a mirror effect of your image, but it’s also a juxtaposition of two scenes or a disturbance of light. Puddles, windows or even bus stops or cars… the possibilities are endless!

Kid jumping puddle by Henri Cartier Bresson

© Henri Cartier Bresson

5. Keep up with contemporary culture

An easy way to explore less mundane subjects and find more interesting settings for your street photography is to find out what cultural events are happening near you. Carnivals, exhibitions or performances are unique opportunities to capture beautiful moments.

Giant elephant car by Seyem

© Seyem (virusphoto.com)

6. Prioritize spontaneity

Many professional street photographers believe that the secret to a beautiful picture is its spontaneity and its naturalness. There’s no need to stage the photo and there’s certainly no point in going back when you’ve “missed” something. Have confidence in your instincts and in your experience, this way you’ll be more proud of your stunning shots!

Man swinging dog in street by Jeff Mermelstein

© Jeff Mermelstein

7. Take notes

Even if we privilege spontaneity and naturalness, previous experience tells us we can still succeed in anticipating great shots. As you walk around your area, note the places where you feel a strong potential, the best angles, the times of day when the light is the most beautiful when the hustle and bustle is at its most interesting. Always go out with a small notebook, that's how you'll learn to strike gold and get great snapshots.

Fat man eating book by Jeff Mermelstein

© Jeff Mermelstein

8. Tell a story to get people interested in you

The best photos are the photos that narrate something. What we are looking for in a photo, is a story, an emotion. What usually brings out this emotion the most often are human subjects, passers-by. So do not be afraid to go take pictures of people. If you do it without encroaching on their personal space, people will mostly be understanding.

Two men on the subway by Jamel Shabazz

© Jamel Shabazz

These tips may help you to become more efficient during your street photo shoots. Nevertheless, the most important thing to hold onto is motivation and willingness to progress. Get outside with your camera as often as you can, dare to lose yourself in the city searching for good spots and persist in your approach as long as you get pleasure out of it!

Looking for inspiration? Lens Culture unveiled the winners of its street photography competition!

Furthermore we, at Meero, are working with fantastic photographers such as Kostas Arapidis who brings a different vision to street photography.

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