Discover what inspires you.
Street photography is all about immersing yourself in a location, whether that’s a famous landmark or the lazy cadence of a mundane small town. “If there’s something I want to capture, I scout the location beforehand. How does this look on a cloudy day? How does it look on a sunny day? What about at night versus in the morning?” says Pidgeon. Finding locations and settings that inspire you will help you take more interesting photographs.
Consider getting out of your comfort zone and tackling some street portraits too. Instead of just doing a “smash and grab photo, I like to talk to people and see what they’re up to that day. Then I might make a portrait of them,” says Long. When you’re out doing street photography, you can always capture candid photos of people out in the world from a distance, but don’t be afraid to break that barrier and attempt some quick and simple outdoor portraits.
Don’t forget about editing.
While a lot of street photography is done in black and white, pioneers like Joel Meyerowitz pushed the use of color photography. But, when shooting in the street, you have no control over the setting. If there are bright signs, or distracting lights that you can’t avoid, don’t be afraid to shoot in color, and then use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to convert your images into black and white. Changing the format of your photos in post-production can help you focus your viewer and highlight the story your image is telling. How you edit an image can complete your narrative or fine-tune a photo’s message.
Recognize the rules of the street.
“There’s a reasonable expectation that when you’re out in public, you’ll get photographed. Whether it’s by the camera on top of the street sign or at the ATM,” says Long. Taking photos of people and things in public places is completely legal, but “I think it’s really important to be respectful of people’s space. Because even though — technically — you can do it, not everybody wants their photo taken,” says Pidgeon. Street photography is all about capturing life, but make sure you do it in a respectful way. When you’re on private property, that’s another matter. If you’re shooting on private land or in someone’s yard, the rules are different. That’s when you need to ask permission before taking photos.
Find inspiration in stunning street photography.
Street photography may be new to you, but you’ve likely seen it before. Think of Humans of New York, for example. This collection of portraits and interviews exemplifies the storytelling nature of street photography. You’d probably also recognize the work of Walker Evans. He was a photojournalist tasked with documenting the reality of the Great Depression, and his work is included in countless American history textbooks and photography books. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out some of the following artists.