Street Photography 101: Don’t Be Creepy

Street photography is really one of my favorite genres – it’s really fun, interesting, and human. Plus, you get to meet cool people!

I’ll share some technical tips later, but I think there’s some things that you should know even before you leave your home. Street photography can involve making people your subjects, but unlike portraits or event photography, you might be taking pictures of strangers – or may not even have their permission! ([Do you need permission?])

Of course, this means that there are important considerations for street photography. You must:

  • Not be creepy.
  • Be considerate of peoples’ privacy.
  • Manage your people skills.
  • Converse with people and ask for permission to take photos.
  • Be in public and deal with changes in scenery that you have no control over.

This is all before you even start taking pictures! But let’s just start simple:

Don’t Be Creepy

Let’s be honest: If you saw a middle-aged dude using a telephoto lens out of a commercial van to take pictures at a playground, you’d be concerned. He could be a great photographer, but he’s being creepy.

You have to look like you belong and blend in. This requires both a good appearance as well as confidence – just like dating, confidence is something people can see!

So here’s a list of ways not to be creepy, in no particular order:

  1. Look nice. Clean clothes, unthreatening appearance. Men: It may be a good idea to be clean-shaven.
  2. Don’t look like you’re hiding. Sunglasses and a hoodie would not help. Stand out – you won’t blend in with a camera anyway!
  3. Smile! Look like you’re having fun. You should be!
  4. Don’t be a man. :( Sorry to say, but men are seen as more threatening. You can’t really fix this, but it’s something to be aware of.
  5. No pictures of kids, especially if #4 applies. This is just a privacy thing, and it should be common sense.
  6. Make eye contact with people. It shows confidence and that you are aware of your surroundings.
  7. If people are your subjects, you should be talking to people.
  8. Have a camera bag. More equipment makes you look like you’re a pro, or at least know what you’re doing.
  9. Take pictures from highly-visible areas. Again, this is all about not hiding. Make it obvious that y
  10. Be confident! This comes with experience, but remember – you’re just taking pictures. It’s a common hobby and you’re not doing anything illegal.

Most of this boils down to looking and feeling like you should be there. Everything about not hiding is so people don’t feel like you’re being sneaky. Someone who looks at you should know right away: that’s a photographer.

Soon, I’ll add some of my own technical tips for the photography part of street photography. Stay tuned!

Author: Luke

Luke runs this site as well as several others. You can see more of his work at www.imadethisphoto.com - and feel free to comment with questions!

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