Once you start feeling confident and comfortable with your camera, creative street photography is the best thing you can delve into. If you are a creative head, you will love capturing unique moments around because you never know what you are going to get when photographing candid scenes on the streets.
Although it isn’t easy, with practice and patience, you will be able to improve your street photography abilities and start taking the best shots. If your creativity inside is forcing you to learn some new tips and tricks to take your street photography to the next level, then read on!
Tips for Creative Street Photography
Be Brave and Bold Enough to Face Different Situations
Creative street photography is all about confidence. Sometimes, people will come to you, be suspicious about you and ask what you are doing – in this situation you have to be brave and answer them politely that you are a street photographer and just photographing some creative shots.
The difference between a normal photo and a fantastic one is asking a builder if you can go onto a building site and click some amazing shots or ask a parent to include their child in the frame. Be ready to be bold, friendly, and confident with your street photography ideas and tips.
Use a Small Camera
You don’t want to look suspicious and too exposed on the streets when photographing different things. A small camera is an ideal option for street photography because, first, you will be doing a lot of walking and the idea of holding a bulky camera for hours and hours doesn’t sound comfortable at all. Second, a smaller camera draws way less attention to you from the public.
The best cameras for street photography should be able to provide good image quality, useful features, and must have compact designs. Getting the right camera and gear for street photography ultimately depends on your budget and requirements. There are mirrorless cameras, DSLRs, and point and shoot digital cameras with a fixed lens, and instant cameras – go for the one you will feel comfortable holding on the streets.
Creative Street Photography From Inside
You are tired after a lot of walking and clicking numerous shots – now you may want to rest your weary legs by heading inside a café, ordering a cup of coffee, and sitting by the window. The best thing about street photography is that you can be creative from the inside as well. This will provide you with a very unique perspective to capture – you can photograph people walking away, groups of people, or whatever seems creative to you.
Use a Prime Lens
For street photographers, a prime lens is essential. Wondering why? Because prime lenses have a fixed focal length and they tend to be lightweight and smaller in size. This makes them less of a burden on your arms and more comfortable to carry all day long.
From a creative standpoint, a prime lens enables you to shoot amazing portraits and images with blurred backgrounds. You don’t have the luxury of zoom, which means you will be physically close to your human subjects and be able to capture their emotions in the best way. Emotions help make the pictures look more compelling that your audience can connect to.
The best prime lenses are 24mm and 50mm. The wide-angle lens is a perfect choice if you want to capture a photo that has multiple narratives going on in a single frame. On the other hand, 50mm will allow you to go as near to your subject as possible, separating it from its surrounding.
Be Creative with Only One Lens
If you decide to use prime lens only – good because overloading yourself with multiple lenses and accessories will do nothing but confuse you when you are out there on the streets looking for photographing perfect shots. The best way to excel in street photography is by starting slow, which means you should practice on only one lens and master it. Therefore, you don’t need to carry more weight because it might slow or tire you quickly.
Shoot Into The Light
Creative street photography is mostly about capturing candid street life. And while you are quickly responding to events unfolding before you, it isn’t always practical to move to where the light is in the right place. You don’t need to wait for creative things to happen on the street at a specific time because they do all the time.
You have the freedom to capture anything you like or looks aesthetically appealing. For example, you can photograph windows reflecting glaring sunlight, shadows of people, or windows of shops throwing light onto the footpath. Shooting into the light is creative, and you might also need to make some adjustments to such pictures in post-production.
Not familiar with the term ‘chimping’? Here is the simple definition: Chimping is the act of viewing each picture on the LCD of your camera right after taking it. While it is perfectly fine to do chimping in slow-paced genres of photography – there is no place of it in street photography. Each time you are viewing your photos on the camera, you are missing exciting moments that will not come back ever.
The best way to do street photography is by keeping your eyes up for most of the time because you never know when there appears an amazing moment to capture. We recommend to turn off the automatic image review in your camera’s settings as it will help you keep more focused on what’s happening around you.
Have an Eye for the Unusual
Developing the photographers’ intuition doesn’t come when you buy a DSLR or the most expensive lens. It comes with time and experience – the more time you spend photographing the streets and people, the more likely you will develop an eye for the unusual. You will be able to sense something unusual when it appears before you.
Don’t rely on your camera’s settings and photography composition – just let the subject’s creativity tell a story in your photo. Look for buskers, street lights, artwork, contrasting items, parades, flash mobs, or anything unusual than routine. Unique and unusual things draw the viewer in and tell them a story that they can connect to.
Use a Camera Remote for New Angles
Using a camera remote or shutter release for street photography will help provide new angles that are otherwise impossible or very tough with hands only. In other words, a shutter release remote opens the door to more creativity that you are already looking for.
Consider this situation – you want to create a photograph from a low angle but don’t want to lay down in the middle of a busy road, what would you do? The best way to do so would be connecting your camera to a wireless remote, putting it on the ground, and using the shutter release remote to capture those interesting moments. The advantage of using a remote is that you can use slow shutter speeds that won’t turn out that great when you are handholding the camera.
Using a remote is an excellent way to capture sharp pictures of buildings while adding some motion blur to the people in the frame. Today, many DSLRs and digital cameras feature Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which means you can control everything on the camera right from your smartphone. You can download the camera’s mobile app and change its settings, shutter speeds, and click the shutter release button.
The Rule of 36
Before the digital era, there was a limit on the number of photographs a photographer can take. This led them to be more selective with the images, hence making sure that they only capture the most amazing moments. Digital cameras blew this away, and now photographers no longer have to worry about wasting a frame.
If you want to be more creative with your photography, you should challenge yourself to go out and take only 36 frames. This way, you will be more focused on getting the most out of your limited number of frames.
Creative Street Photography Ideas
Smoke and Mirrors
Photographing mirrors, smoke, steam, or reflections is a great way to improve your creative street photography. You can photograph cigarette smoke, and smoke from vehicle exhausts as they provide an interesting layer of haze to overall scenes, especially in cold weather.
Go High And Low
The easiest way to achieve more creative street photography is by going high and low with your photographs. You can sit on a footpath and photograph from down there and show what’s happening at ground level. Alternatively, you can stand on a staircase and photograph from up there and get a great birds-eye view.
Get Creative with Rubbish
Most of the time, the more ordinary the things are, the more aesthetically appealing they look in photos. You can photograph unsightly objects such as graffiti, rubbish bins, and old buildings. Don’t play too much with your camera settings because you want to keep the composition simple, but experiment with colors and tones later in the post-production (Adobe Lightroom is the best editing software to do so).
Choose a Theme
Choosing a theme will help you stay relevant throughout your photography session on the streets. Following are some themes that you can go for:
- Transport: buses, cars, subways, bikes, etc.
- Markets: fish market, vegetable market, etc.
- Busy Streets
Animals and Creative Street Photography
Getting critters in your photographs – think about insects, domestic pets, wild animals, etc. in your community. They don’t just make your photos look appealing but also tell a lot about your environment.
Use Experimental Compositions
To make your work strong and recognizable, you can use unique composition in every frame. Following are some ideas regarding unique compositions:
- Body parts, such as hands, feet, etc.
- Photography with minimal tones like a photo against a wall or the sky
You can build your entire series of photos on a specific feeling. Following are some ideas:
- You can capture someone waiting on bus stations
- A reunion or people seeing off someone on airports
- Happiness in parties
This one is the easiest and fun to do! Just look for interesting faces on the streets. For example, people who are really expressive, maybe with beautiful eyes, unusual appearances, great smiles, interesting emotions, etc. People who are shy and hiding emotions also brings a great level of mystery to your images.
And yes, don’t be hesitant to ask for permission first to capture their portraits.