Street photography is a ‘thing’ these days, with almost everyone having a camera on the phone in their pocket. A quick search on Bing returned more than 34,000,000 hits to the search for Street Photography, where Landscape Photography returned 22,000,000 and Architecture Photography 17,000,000 hits. It’s partly because the world is now very urban, people are interested in people (humanity’s general gossipiness and nosiness), the ubiquity of cameras plus the ease by which the photographs can be shared online.
Street photography is generally considered ‘candid’, where the photographer gets images of people in public places as they go about their daily business (although street photography need not include people at all). Posed photographs are more rare, but when they’re spontaneous they can be quite effective (see the image above of the two boys leaning against a wall). At its most engaging, street photography images with people bring out something of their personality, or tell a story. They should make the viewer want to ask more, perhaps who they are and what they’re like, but also what they’re thinking or talking about, or what’s just happened.
I follow a number of photography websites and I have to say I’ve been very disappointed with them recently as I’ve seen typical clickbait headlines to articles that are full of strict ‘rules’ of street photography (5 tips to make your street photography great!). For instance one site, which is a popular photography site that I won’t name, insisted that good street photography should never include any blurred images. That sort of rule is simply nonsense. As a riposte I’d point any budding street photographer to the website of Vivian Maier, one of the 20th century’s greatest street photographers (note the photograph of the policemen carrying the stretcher).
If you ask me to give you guidance on street photography I’d tell you to: have your camera set so that you can just point it and take the photo without having to play with your aperture or ISO; pay attention to composition, as you would in any photograph (but you have to be quick!); and never be a nuisance – you’ll get your best photographs when people don’t know you’re there.
You can see more of my street photographs in my street and urban gallery.