Street Photography: Are You Tempted?

I’ll cut straight to the chase, here: Street Photography is something I’m really interested in trying out, but I still haven’t done it. And why not, you may ask?

Because it scares me!

'Variation 12' by Phil H on Flickr

I love taking photos of people – that’s the area of photography that really appeals to me, and what I mainly do. And yet all the photos I take are of people I know; people who know that I’m there, and who don’t really mind if I’m snapping away (OK, they may mind a little bit at times, but they normally cheer up when I show them a nice pic of themselves on the LCD).

Taking photos of total strangers? Without prior permission? That’s scary stuff!

So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject – please leave a comment below. Have you done some street photography? If so, how did you find it? Do you have some tips to share?

Are you interested in trying it, like me, but are a bit nervous?

Or are you dead against it? For instance, if you were just a normal passer by, would you be happy if a random photographer was taking photos of you?

I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts about this, so please do leave a comment below, send me a message via Twitter, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.


  1. I would love to do street photography I have only took a couple of photos of people in the street without them knowing & only had one person say “no photos please” to me but i didn’t have a DSLR when that happened it was with a point & shoot. I am really nervous asking people for their photos as i’m not always a confident person & as I am now progressing further with my photography I feel my images lack life so the need for street photography is becoming a must everyday but my goal at the end is to be able to use those images in some way which will involve people signing model releases which I am scared of asking my fear is being rejected by people. I’m not really sure how you approach someone & ask if you can take a photo of them with the added bonus of a model release without getting slapped or shouted at. My idea was to set up another site for my best images & have cards made up with my email & web address on it so I could give them those details so they could see my images also offer them a free 6×4 or 7×5 print of the person you have just photographed to gain their trust to give their permission to use that image. I am not into forcing the issue of photographing someone if they said no as I always think about if it was me being photographed you have to respect peoples privacy at the end of the day your photography comes second to peoples feelings.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Kell, really interesting. I really don’t know much about model releases, but my understanding of it has been that you only need a model release if you were going to be making money from the photo in some way…? So if your shots were omly going to be used on your website, or somewhere like Flickr, for example, then that would be OK to shoot without model releases?

    Does anyone else know more about this?

  3. Matthew /

    I am very interested in giving street photography a try. Now that it is getting warmer I hope to get out and shoot, especially during farmer’s markets and such.

  4. Hi Matthew. Thanks for your comment. Let us know how you get on if you do give street photography a try – you can always post a photo on our facebook page, for instance, if you like.

  5. Yes that is right you only need it if you were seeling them & that is the reason why I would want them to sign it otherwise I would be stuck with an image I could only display not sell.

    Anyone that has any tips on this would be great I would like to know how you approach people without harrassing them.

  6. joseph /

    I think street photography is great! its really exciting kinda like spying…:) you get a big lens like the 50-250 and just stand far. what people dont know cant really hurt them (in most cases) Also since the people dont know your taking a pic of them its look so natural none of those pose pics…

  7. I know what you mean. It is Scary. But it’s worth it. The adrenaline is good!

  8. Hi Joseph. Some people do enjoy doing street photography with a long zoom lens, and I imagine it must be a little less scary to do it that way – but then there are others who enjoy a short focal length, so the viewpoint is more natural, and they can get right in the ‘thick of the action’. It may also freak some people out if they saw someone with a really long lens taking surreptious photos of them…! It’s all food for thought.

  9. Thank you learningthelight for the valuable information which really help me when I finish started to get serious in my photograpy in August 2011. It’s been a great journey and now street photography is one of my passion which I do weekly during my weekend walk.
    How I learn street photography?
    1. Learn about your camera function and photography as an art well as on street you have to make a split decision.
    2. Subject matter – choose the strong subject matter which can tell story from you image.
    3. Learn to see – you need this as you don’t simply shoot people on the street, shoot only the people which can tell story or images which match your title or theme for the day.
    4. As for lens: If you are scare to shoot people, use wide angle or else use 50mm
    5. Be polite and be generous with your smile when they see you capture their pictures. If they ask to delete, just say ok…then next step is up to you…to delete or not. Sell yourself, ‘I am a photographer and say something nice which can break the ice.’
    6. If you are new: Prepare your own stage at an interesting place in the city and wait for your characters to fill the stage then compose, frame and shoot as you like. (I used to do this when I am lazy walking around.)
    7. Bad experience: Once so far. They ask for my ID, scold me. and ask me to delete their image. Good learning experience for me.
    8. Keep shooting and mixed with other street photographer on Flickr or your town.
    9. Know your right as a photographer.
    Happy shooting and have fun.
    John Ragai

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