10 Street Photography tips in 10 Days


10 Street Photography tips in 10 Days

Tip #1 Must be Quick

First rule of street photography: you must be quick, both visually and technically. Wasting time fiddling around with dials and displays is not an option. Understand the characteristics and nuances of light and adjust impulsively without fumbling with the camera is key to create the message or mood you want to communicate. In other words, the first step in effective street photography is to learn to see the image before putting the camera to your eye and get to know your equipment well enough so you can grab the moment quickly. Things can happen very fast on the street and often there are no second chances or “take two’s”. In other words... It get better with practice.


Tip #2 Camera settings for street photography

An important part of the composition is he background, it carries the story. Sharp focus on all the elements will emphasize the depth of the scene, shooting at an aperture of f/8 or higher is an appropriate choice, yet there are always exceptions to the rule as elements and moments move fast. Therefore, working with a high shutter speed like 1/250 will be major beneficial to freeze the action.
The drawback from the aperture and shutter levels being high will diminish the light intake, so you may have to up your ISO.
Portrait photography being my roots, I’m a totally attracted and embrace natural light and shallow depth-of-field. It is not in my wheelhouse for me to pass f/8 (except when I’m doing landscapes or architecture). But understand that one of the characteristics of Street Photography is that flaws, such as motion blur, are acceptable if it does not compete with the visual direction or takes away the impact of the message.


Tip #3 Ditch the long tele zoom and use a wide-angle:

"Robert Capa once said; 'If your pictures aren't good enough, you are not close enough." And I couldn't agree more.

Photographers who are new to street photography often assume that a long telephoto lens is the way to go, but this isn’t the case. A long telephoto lens removes you from the story you’re trying to tell while a wider lens places you among the action while remaining inconspicuous.
Street photography is very fast and personal. it’s about experiencing and connecting with life, up-close and in the moment. When starting your street photography journey, you may be tempted to use your biggest zoom lens to feel less “conspicuous” and hidden. Instead, it will do the exact opposite and do much more harm than good. Mostly, it will eliminate the creative intimacy of street photography. 
Get close enough that when you are taking photos of people on the street you can hear the conversation and feel the pulse and energy of the situation developing in front of you, in other words, become part of the scenario… feel it. I recommend using either a 24, 28, or 35 mm.


Tip #4 Notice light

Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” – Alfred Stieglitz

I find that today, many are more captivated and spend countless hours researching and talking about the difference between zoom lenses vs prime lenses, full frame vs mirrorless, Photoshop vs Lightroom than actually learning the “meaning” of photography itself.
The first step to becoming a photographer is to develop a profound understanding of light; how it works and how to capture it, control it, enhance it and use it creatively. Its in the word… “photography” means “to paint with light” and the latest camera body is not going to do that for you.
For me light is key when making a photo and is a photograph's main ingredient, it really is the one reason an image can happen. Light conveys feelings, mood, atmosphere.
Unlike landscape photography, a benefit of street photography is that you don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn to get the right light. Shade, overcast, sunlight, nighttime and rainy days are some of the most hoped-for conditions on the streets. The thing is to adapt and use the light that is offered to your advantage.
Street photography will challenge your observation skills and train your eye to see how light shapes the scene and guide you to intuitively know where to place yourself to accomplish the desired composition.
Any time during the day or night, be alert to the type and amount of light and be aware of the light sources falling on your subjects and background. Understanding and working with light will take your images to a whole new place.


Tip #5 Look for opposites: Juxtaposition tells its own story

“All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.” – Elliott Erwitt

I really love this side of street photography when it happens. One of the wonderful things about shooting in an urban setting is the multitude of comparisons you can discover. Architecture and humankind, old and young, tall and short, progress and deterioration, the opportunities are never-ending.
Looking for situations with interesting messages that seem to be opposite to the people that are the subject of your composition can be a challenge but will refine your ability to see and react. Look for two or more individuals that seem to be differing in height, gender, complexion, age, fitness or even weight. 
Noticing these variances and framing them to highlight those differences is the art of juxtaposition. It’s a challenge, but a terrific way to create impact and dialog to your photos. Go for it on your next outing, in time you will be surprised at what you will see.


Tip #6 Timing and Anticipation

“It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

In street photography, timing and anticipation is the name of the game and when we intuitively feel time is right to press the shutter. Street photography is the immediate recognition of the meaning of an occurrence and of seizing that moment.
Often described as “The decisive moment”, (a term coined by influential photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson), it initially involves simultaneously seeing and capturing in a fraction of a second the moment. Hesitate and the moment vanishes, lost forever.
In street photography, one cannot depend on on being reactive. To “react” will usually cause you to miss the moment; to “anticipate” is to seriously increase your chances for a meaningful image. This to say, when it comes down to it, street photography is not a pursuit to recognize, it is one to anticipate.
Make your own decisive moment by observing, being alert and ready. What kind of emotion are you trying to convey; love, happiness, sadness, melancholic, hurried? Does your image captivate the viewer and make them feel that they are a part of the scene? Ask yourself these questions the next time you are taking photos on the street, it will certainly change your approach and guide you to the visual message.


Tip #7 Attempt Street Portraits

Richard Avedon said, "a photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed."

With that statement, a street portrait is a "a picture of a complete stranger who knows he/she is being photographed."
In this case, it’s a photograph of a total stranger you encounter on the streets, he/she knows about it and is also involved in the process. It can be a close-up or a full length.
Many street photographers have chosen the word portrait to label candid pictures of people. I prefer the word “candid portraits” as for me a portrait is very much a different creative process.
If you are new at Street Photography and nervous about trying it, an effective way to get comfortable is to create some street candid portraits. This will get you into it and and will help you relax while getting used to photographing people.
Approach some people, tell to them that you’re doing a photography project and think they would make a great subject (flattery does go a long way). Once they give you the OK, take your time and do your best to take a good photograph of them. Frame them properly, notice the background and most important, really try to bring out their character. It will be a very rewarding effort for both you and your subject.
Have a conversation with the person while photographing and make eye contact, it will go a very long way for your image and shoot lots.
One thing most people do that is really distracting and takes away the mood of the person is to constantly review the photo on the back of the camera, it’s an actual term photographers refer to called “chimping”. If you constantly “chimp” It sends the message to the person in front of your camera that you are not sure of what you are doing, it breaks the momentum of connecting with your subject and makes them feel more insecure of being in front of your lens. 
Finally, I think is a good practice to always offer to email them photos, so have a note pad and pen with you.


Tip #8 Think About Composition

Storytelling is the entire point of street photography and if it has nothing to say or communicate, it’s a snap, not a photograph. But it will not always offer you ample time to compose a photo as things happen fast and without warning, but it is still very important to design your composition and determine where you’re going to position your subjects.
A guideline to follow is to not always put someone dead center of the frame. You can fluctuate the composition by applying the rule of thirds or to shoot horizontal then vertical if time or situation allows. The goal for this type of photography is to engage your viewers by leading the eye to look at your photos and pay attention to your subject, as well their environment.
The streets, are jam-packed with all types of elements: people, buildings, cars, billboards, signs, etc. Your task is to remove as many insignificant elements out of your frame as possible and bring visual attention to your subject. Like, a book there are specific writing rules or structures, for example, it should have a plot and narrative. The same applies in photography because strong compositions tells a story and inspires the viewer to examine or study the image.
You need a subject, a context and a design to form your visual narrative, this will produce visual harmony and flow, in other words… it engages. A trick I use when I am out in the streets is that I concentrate to lessen or remove confusing elements by looking for “ONE’S - 1 subject, 1 couple or 1 group of individuals. It helps to simplify the narrative and guides you to remove distracting and insignificant elements (visual noise) that are not part of the story or composition.


Tip #9 Take It Inside

A friend once told me that she was going to attend a street photography educational tour in Montreal and because it was raining, it got cancelled. In Montreal with all the subway’s, shopping places, markets, and more, I was speechless.
During foul weather or colder seasons photographing indoor can be a comfortable retreat for street photographers’, indoor markets, shopping centers, subways and similar places can be great settings for visual storytelling and offer many exceptional street photo opportunities.
Prepare for challenging lighting conditions and the important thing to understand is that you are on private property once inside any building or subway and everybody has an opinion on what’s legal and what’s not. This is when being a discreet shooter comes into play. Some businesses discourage cameras therefore always respect those boundaries and go out of your way to be more unnoticeable, it will go a long way and keep you out of trouble. One small camera body with a small lens, no tripod, no camera bags, no gadgets dangling from around your neck. Just you and a camera. The key word is “inconspicuous”.
Walking around in a mall or subway with the biggest camera body you own with a battery pack and a 100-400 2.8 lens will NOT make you look like a photographer; it will only get you booted out of there in a hurry.
Interior street photography is a great substitute to the outdoors, to develop your eye, shoot fast and hone in your technical skills. Getting in the practice of looking for images in interior surroundings will keep you more creative, and it will allow you to refine your street photography skills more efficiently than if you were you to restrict yourself to the outdoors.
Indoor street photography offers some challenges, the greatest is that interior lighting is often much weaker than outside. You will more than likely have to increase your “ISO” setting. With a fast lens (1.8 / 2.8) I usually do OK at ISO 400/500, sometimes you may need more. Also, because of the many variety of light sources found in malls, subways, etc., setting your “white balance” to AWB will be a benefit and assure the best balance possible, unless you're shooting B&W.

Tip #10 Don’t Contemplate… Feel, then Shoot.

“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” - André Kertesz

Capture a moment, an expression, a smile or a sentiment. When I go out to photograph, I don’t have a strategy, I let the street talk to me and follow my heart. This is why street photography is so special to me. Although composition, exposure, light, etc., are all significant in the creation of your imagery and what surpasses all of that, is trusting our heart to press the shutter button to make more emotional photographs.
Photographing in the streets starts to happen when you can push aside the technical and equipment paraphernalia aside and just feel the pulse of the scene you are part of, and every one has some rhythm, whether it’s a city, town or village.
The goal is to become good and confident enough with your camera and the settings that you can put yourself on “autopilot” and simply absorb, letting the sounds, scents, energy and visuals embrace you, then get you in the zone to translate that into something worth shooting and express the true feeling you had while there.
Believe in the process and let it flow. Eventually, you might find these images, perhaps with some slight flaws or imperfections, could become your most treasured.
Learn to trust your skills and maintain your rhythm. You’ll miss fewer shots and stay better connected to the scene. Find your mistakes later and learn from them.


The light, which for me is like the brush for a canvas, ranges from artificial to natural. The painterly rhythm of lines, textures and patterns shaped by the light allows me to visually explore extraordinary and vibrant forms. Light is in a constant dance with the world around us.  A continually changing palette that produces fleeting moments to be observed and appreciated, never to be the same ever again. 


Making the unseen seen, has provoked experimentation with several techniques, motivating me to find ways to best accentuate light and form. As a photographer, I strive to discover the artistry of light. Like thoughts, photography has a way of making emotional states come to life by giving them visual shape. I am constantly delighted to see how images can signify the photographed object while simultaneously represent it as a penetrating and authentic self-portrait. 



Many butterflies and insects are naturally attracted to light, they gather around street lamps and porch lights, scientists refer to this lure as “positive photo receptivity”. Like butterflies, I am drawn to the light, it absorbs me, I am its prisoner and combined with deliberate camera movement, my objective is to embrace the light that is presented and make the creative process as natural as breathing. I use light and motion as a gateway to abstraction to capture interesting discoveries in the pursuit for the visual essence of what we see around us. Consequently, when the light is guided with my camera to dance across another colour, a new dimension is shaped and becomes a study of blend hues, tints, tones and shades, the expressive process comes to life.



Deliberately moving my camera at time of exposure like a painter with his brush, I can embrace my spontaneous and emotive response to the composition that is present before me. Therefore, merging light, movement and technique, I am no longer simply following the rules of photographic compositions, I am creating them. My photographic work disrupts the guidelines of what people think photographs to be. I push the limits of the camera and photograph where others do not think a photograph is possible to make. I look for colour interactions, texture, and the elements of form and line, all of them interacting with the transient qualities of light.



My approach is focused on the simplicity of the beauty in the moment. My goal is to silence the noise and clutter to find a sense of calm through light. Thus, my effort is grouped into series that discover ways to abstract reality by finding inspiration within the vivid colours that exists in front of me. It is through this progression of intimate discovery that I recognize the subject matter and the abstract qualities I wish to accentuate. In the making of the images, I often attempt to blur the line between photography and painting.



In conclusion, light inspires me to create by exploring the environment around me and it triggers the creative process. I approach my work with an attitude of unconstrained imagination, unrestricted with predetermined limitations and conventional rules. My compositions are formed using slow exposures to entice the free-flowing movement of light to be captured in camera at that one and only moment in time. In other words, to dance with the light.

To know more about Dancing with light, join on on May 30th at the next photographers social. Link to event : https://www.facebook.com/events/188559168441057/


For centuries, Hammocks have always represented peaceful relaxation. To anybody who has relished in an afternoon rest while entrenched in a hammock gently swinging back and forth between two trees can appreciate this notion.

Last summer, I dedicated a week for creativity in one of my favorite places in the world, and using this hammock for my daily R&R moment, to catch up on a little reading, to ponder life’s great mysteries or to use it for what it was intended for, a nap. The tranquil and peaceful experience suddenly captivated and motivated me to start using my camera to visually document how this silent pause made me feel.  Following my meditative time out, I took out the camera and invested one hour every day to create abstracts images of the hammock. 

After the delightful and fluctuating burst of colour from the fading light of day into night, I explored the deep-rooted hammock sandwiched between two unbending trees. I anticipated to see deterioration in the material and fading of hues, but to my delight, I discovered a modest beauty that was accentuated by the arriving twilight of nightfall. 

Creative contentment is influenced by what you are attracted to and how you feel about it. Yet sometimes the beauty around us goes unnoticed because it’s not obvious. The purpose of my abstract photography is to extract and share the hidden beauty found in natural and manmade environments. 

For me, photography can be a silent, intensely meditative activity, yet, the result exists in a minuscule portion of time. If you think about it, added in the fractions of a seconds of the shutter speed, my 30-year career only equals to perhaps a few hours. 

For the Hammock assignment, my inspiration was to visually document peace and quiet, by fusing form and colour to create movement and harmony in the photograph using high and low key colour as the actual topic. Warm colors advance and cool colors recede creating a push and a pull in the image that ultimately reinforces visual motion. Certain colour can stimulate moods of silence, strength, calm, energy, etc., that once captured can offer a mystical trait to the composition.

That said, it is usually anticipated that a photograph ought to be a visually truthful portrayal of the subject matter. I believe this restricts the photographer to express the sentiment of the moment. Consequently, I believe that the concept of fine art photography is not to document the subject as it is presented, such as in journalism or documentary photography. But instead to create a sense of balance between the technical, artistic and emotional fragments to produce an image that leads the viewer to see through the eyes of the photographer. 

In this case, I am not trying to demonstrate what something looks like, but show what it feels like. My intent is to create photographs that capture and communicate to the viewer the experience of being there. Embracing this philosophy to inspire creativity and abstraction will intensify personal development and promote contemplation that informs, supports and compliments the overall creative viewpoint and deepen a pensive disposition.

When the light discloses the subject, I get inspired and I am obliged to compose an image. I enjoy isolating the details of a subject or a scene to the point of abstraction. I would rather make an image that asks a question than answers one, one that intrigues and arouses curiosity in the viewer. 

The photographs that speak to me most are those that depend on emotion and observation rather than on “impact” or “wow factor” of the scene. When the light exposes its soul, I become immediately captivated by the opposing distinctions between my surroundings and how it transforms my perception and frame of mind. In that precise moment in time, I relate with the subject with appreciation and connexion which is the foundation that my photography is built on.

If my creations inspire thought, wonder or emotion, I made an effective photograph. In my work, I aim to disclose the sublime hidden inside the usual. For this, I need to slow down, be attentive and pay close attention to details to discover and close the gap between order and chaos. 

Instead of asking what it is, determine what the art means to you and how it makes you feel. This creates a subjective and engaging experience that can kindle imaginative and expressive growth. I answer to the subtle quality of light I see to create images that are graphically strong yet gentle in presentation. The radiance and colour of light is what captivates me to capture images with clean lines and strong viewpoint.

Since the first time I picked up a camera, I tried to promote a sense of connection in my images. In this body of work, I wanted to separate from traditional photography. I envisioned “light painting”, the sweeping motion of the camera while the shutter is open to symbolize the effect of brush strokes. 

It is my attempt to reveal and communicate the magnificent beauty, temperament and essence of natural light to "paint" my photos... in camera and in that moment.  

I envision what I am trying to reveal in my mind’s eye and approach each photograph with a “painterly” mind set while accentuating composition, colour, texture, and especially experimentation. For me, this encourages a Zen-like temperament to the creative process that inspires a kind of calm frame of mind that intensifies within the setting.

The apparent theme of the “Hammock” photographs may be motion, but the implication is time. My goal in photography is not to capture an image I see, but to discover the potential of fleeting instants I can only begin to imagine. The finished effort is an answer to these studies - between reality and imagination. 

My intention as a photographer is not to always make a comprehensive likeness of a scene. As a creative alternative, I look for a dimension, a character or a mood that eventually presents itself in each of the places that I explore with my camera. I seldom have a destination; the process is the objective and is where the photograph will emerge. 

The intent is to merge form and colour either beside each other or distancing them to create harmony that contributes to the overall movement in the image. This continuous movement can be interpreted as visual sound, like a melody is to meditation… There is a certain comfort in that, a comfort I truly embrace. 


Through the years, visiting galleries, exhibit openings and photography presentations, I have often heard people in conversations use words like “feelings,” “emotions,” “movement”, “passion,” “soul,” in their attempts to decipher what is abstract art Perhaps these words are hints of the actual relationship between the artist and the viewer or visa versa. Believing that expressionistic artists are dedicated to expressing emotions and states of mind rather than describing impressions of the material world makes me question whether or not abstract art always needs interpretation. 

What makes an abstract image resonate? Is it a riot of colour that first attracts? Is it the hidden elements, once recognized, that delight?  Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson’s compositions contain colour, movement, energy and shape that attract, delight, and excite. He removes the labels of the recognizable and the familiar and creates works capable of evoking inspiration, beauty, or peacefulness, thus allowing the viewer to simply experience the joy of seeing.  The question of “understanding” abstract art seems pointless to me. I believe the best response is an emotional, not an intellectual one.

Abstracting is the capacity to examine your subject and take away the labels that identify it. In abstract art you will not find a structure recognizable in daily life, or any identifiable imagery. Instead you will discover a multitude of colour, tones and shapes within an element of structure that is defined only by the artist’s imagination.

For example, nearly everyone observing a landscape would see a sky, grass and a winding road. The art of abstraction would have you look at that same landscape in an entirely different way:  now you see an enormous rectangular shape containing an oblique line through it (the grass and the winding road) under a smaller lighter rectangle (the sky). Seeing further than the external characteristic of the scene and developing your capability to interpret it distinctively and with emotion is essential to producing images that are unique, and, more importantly, that reaches the heart of viewer. 

Distinguishing the elements in a scene as non-representational forms and learning to arrange these forms and tonalities in a careful and pleasing arrangement is the key to improve your artistic path in photography and transform your images into something more than simply pretty pictures. 

When I set my photographs free in the world (through exhibitions or sales), I have to trust that they will find safe, appreciative homes. Recently I sold one of my abstract photographs to a collector in Toronto. Feeling compelled to describe the impact of the image she recently acquired; I received this wonderful e-mail from her.


 “I just wanted to send a note to let you know how much my patients and I are enjoying your photograph. I am a clinical psychologist promoting art therapy. Your photograph has become an unexpected attraction with people trying to see as many different things in it. I’ve been impressed with the playfulness and creativity from inside the perimeter of the frame and how these same characteristics are transferred towards the people viewing it. My associates and staff refer to viewing your photograph as going to “WONDERLAND”.  Thank you again for this delightful addition to my practice. It’s taken on more meaning than simply a photo on the wall.” 

This note confirms my belief about the silent beauty and impact of abstract art. The colour, the texture, and the shapes do not resemble anything the viewers may be familiar with, but instead prompt the audience to create meaning in their own imaginations. With the labels removed, the responses to a photograph will be as varied as the individuals who view them. In the world of abstracts, both the maker and the viewer can be transported to a “WONDERLAND” where anything is possible.  

In your journey into documenting discovery, I propose that at the time of creating your image, you strive to remove the labels of your subject. The colours and hidden textures will render many image possibilities within the four corners of your viewfinder and will guide you to a creative state of mind filled with wonder. However, you must be tremendously focused in order not to finish with chaos. The goal is to create balance within disorder. The shift from realism to abstraction challenges the expressive interpretation of my work. Capturing balance in chaotic situations invigorates me and provides serenity at the same time.

This openness to wonder, to seeing the invisible, is something artists, spiritual masters, and children all have in common. The magnificence of light encourages a childlike capacity to wonder, to dream in the daytime. Take a moment and observe children. Notice how they have a way of listening and reacting to thoughts and impulses, leaving their minds opened to the possibilities of wonder within their imaginations.  I believe that adults can learn from children because creativity depends upon imagination, upon emotion, upon play, upon being open to wonder. Similarly, I feel that if a photographer is someone who remains sensitive to his being, his surroundings and his inner self, he will see things others do not, and enter the “WONDERLAND” of abstract art.

"Art is what defines us, as a culture and as individuals. To suppress creative expression is to bind and silence our very souls."