Street photography is a catch-all category where the photographer spends time wandering the streets of his or her chosen city, camera out.

The moment something of interest comes about, which happens all the time, the photographer does their best to do it justice. While posing can easily be done on the street, I’m looking specifically at candid street photography. So how to begin?

guitarist playing on the sidewalk

#1. Versatile lenses are important

I want as few pieces of gear as possible. A major reason for this is the weight factor. Because I’m constantly walking, crawling, and possibly climbing things, the last thing I want is an extra weight I will probably not even use all day. Do I really need a tripod on a bright, sunny day? Is today a zoom day or a macro day?

Instead, bring a narrowed down selection of gear to focus on a particular type of street photography. My lens choice is the most important out of all of these. Wide angle lenses are some of the best street photography options because the wide field of view is excellent for architecture. And if they have enough zoom (40mm or more), they can also double as portrait lenses.

If my targets are people, then having a lens with a wide aperture is very helpful. Aperture controls the depth of field, which is how much of a scene is in sharp focus. If I want the context of the background to help tell the story in my photo, then apertures of f/4.0 or more are perfectly fine. That way, my viewers can see the subject and background in sharp focus.

If I want more of a portrait, and I want to de-emphasize the background, then I need lenses that can open wide. 12-40mm or 20-70mm F/2.8 lenses are fantastic walkabout lenses that cover both architecture and portraits beautifully.

My second lens should have some zoom, for far subjects. Ideally at least 150-200mm, but more is always handy. Zoom lenses are also great for taking portraits without being too obtrusive. The wide angle lenses above require me to get much closer to my target.


Photo by zhivko / CC0 1.0

#2. Compose possible photos using the viewfinder

Scenes look entirely different through the viewfinder versus the human eye. If a scene seems to have some promise, take a moment and look through the viewfinder. Now that I’ve cropped away all of the distracting elements in my peripheral vision, the result is probably much more attractive.

If your camera has a tilting or articulating LCD screen, that’s, even more, of a reason to get creative with composition angles. Holding the camera from on high can deliver an unexpected and fascinating perspective on a crowd, for example.

#3. Make good use of leading lines

Leading Lines are a major component of basic photography composition. The idea is to use the lines in the scene to guide the eye towards major subjects within the frame. Train tracks vanishing into the horizon is a classic example of the use of leading lines in the composition.

In the world of Man, I want to keep a close eye out possibilities like power lines, streets and crosswalks, train tracks, and building corners. Any of these, as well as others, have great creative potential.


Photo by MichaelGaida / CC0 1.0


Street photography is incredibly fun because it’s a surprise every time you go out and explore. Even in a city, I’ve lived in for years, looking from behind the camera makes everything fresh again. And there are so many different kinds of subjects, I’m constantly testing and stretching my photography skills.

For lovers of variety, it’s one of the best photography styles to get into.


Photo by MichaelGaida / CC0 1.0