110 Insightful Street Photography Tips for beginners

black and white Street photography tips for beginners

Street photography can be a daunting task, especially if you are a beginner. Not any more, in this are I’ve compiled here 100 street photography tips for beginners that will help you make better images.

I’ve been doing this for a decade now and this is by no means an exhaustive list of tips, but they are hard earned. There’s a lot of crap out there peddled by so called street photography gurus that simply don’t work or are misleading. Fell for them all and it took a while to get on the right track.

The list has no real order and I do not claim these to be the voice of God. They are what I found useful for beginners in street photography so without further adieu…..

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100 street photography tips for beginners

  1. The color that attracts the eye most is red
  2. Your worst enemy as a photographer is complacency
  3. Don’t fear shooting strangers. Fear losing the chance to do so forever
  4. It’s not a popularity contest. The best are rarely the most well known
  5. Your images. Don’t let anything mislead you from them. Like a shiny new camera
  6. If you think everything will be different with a new camera. You are most likely fooling yourself
  7. The best camera is the one you love
  8. What we feel while looking at a photograph is proportional to what the photographer felt when making it
  9. A bare naked woman, funny cat pictures will outrank your number of likes. Take social media fame with a grain of salt
  10. Keep Schadenfreude in mind: Some folks derive pleasure in bringing you and your photography down
  11. If you want to be confident as a photographer, there needs to be REASONS behind your confidence. You need to be able to explain why your images work
  12. Street photography doesn’t start when you arrive. Shoot inside the bus, train and even plane.
  13. Trust the process of training your eye, the rest will follow
  14. Photography is essentially a transfer of feelings
  15. Focus intensely on the image you want to make, it primes your brain
  16. Don’t focus too intensely at the detriment of the images that are right in front of your nose
  17. Assume great images are everywhere, this will sharpen your senses.
  18. Stop trying to rank yourself against others, especially online
  19. The one to best is found in a mirror
  20. It easier to talk photography than to practice photography. Stop talking.
  21. Every photographer at some point in time SUCKED. If you suck, press on
  22. Periodically revisit your images, you’d be surprised at what you’ve missed
  23. Periodically re-edit your images. Tools and your own know-how changed
  24. As a beginner, never delete your images. Once you revisit them years later, you’ll be glad you didn’t
  25. If you want to start street photography, emulate, do like everyone
  26. If you want to make more interesting images, look at what everyone is doing and don’t do it
  27. Don’t aim to be the best photographer, aim to to the best photographer you can be
  28. Everything visual can be broken down in simple elements. See them and arrange them
  29. For a more interesting image, put an offbeat element in it. It breaks the expected
  30. Follow your heart, shoot what you feel
  31. Before shooting, make sure you are connected with what’s in front of the lens
  32. Remember to charge your battery. Obvious but you’d be surprised how often it happens
  33. When heading home, make sure you have enough battery for a few shots, you never know what might pop out
  34. What will you ask to see on your deathbed? The images you’ve made or your family? Remember to focus on what you answered
  35. You are what you eat. Diet, exercise are the grounds where creativity grows
  36. When shooting, forget your problems and worries, they hinder you from focusing on your images
  37. So what you had a happy accident and got a shot by chance? Just appreciate
  38. The image you have in camera is only the beginning, not the end
  39. The eye travel in your image is rarely what it should be right off the bat. Process your images
  40. Nobody cares how brave you were to make a shot, they only care if it’s a good image
  41. You most likely do not need all the gear that you have, you’ll be happier with less
  42. It is a scientific fact that people are make very poor judges from height to weight, bear this in mind when looking at your images
  43. As a beginner, you probably pick up 50% of your good shots, 50% you might miss or misjudge as being better or worse than they actually are. You get much better at this as you go
  44. Photography is by nature subjective, some people will like your stuff, some people won’t and that’s the point
  45. Some photographs are taken, others are made. Intent makes the difference
  46. No one will ever see what you see the way you see, the way you feel while seeing it. Why shoot any other way than yourself?
  47. Know how to use your camera completely, you need to know your grammar before trying to write prose
  48. Everything is light. Pay attention to it & it’s qualities.
  49. Shoot color first, then convert to BW, it’s just more control
  50. Shoot RAW, why wouldn’t you want more data in your images? It’s more wiggle room in post
  51. It is better to have around 3-5 projects going on at the same time, keeps creativity going
  52. Don’t be so closed to criticism that you never grow
  53. When thinking of shooting else where, imagine how a foreigner would be excited to shoot where you are
  54. Lots of famous photographers were wealthy, they had all the time to shoot without worrying out feeding themselves. Keep that in mind if you are not too happy about where you are now
  55. Vindicate yourself not by the brand of camera you have but on the work your produce
  56. If you really like photography, keep being an amateur. Professionals shoot less and spend more time doing the business
  57. Your photography is a visual diary, not everything needs to go in the portfolio
  58. Photographs are like wine, they get better over time
  59. You can start deleting your images when you revisit your images and don’t pick out overlooked ones
  60. Limit yourself (one camera, one, place, etc), creativity thrives when limits are set
  61. If there’s something about a location, but you can’t make a satisfying shot, come another time. Different light, different subjects might be what it needs
  62. Great photography is first an foremost inside of YOU
  63. The true canvas of the street photographer is not the frame, the world, it’s the human brain
  64. Photograph what’s important to you, the rest follows
  65. Select your sources carefully, don’t be quick to take everything as true
  66. Don’t be Amish. Learn from a variety of sources
  67. Just because no one wants to pay for your images, doesn’t mean they are no good as art. Look at Van Gogh!
  68. Photography is not reality. The quicker you learn this, the quicker you can be creative about your selection of lenses, odd angles and more
  69. Wabi-Sabi: Forget perfection, it’s overrated. Try to name me something in life that is perfect!
  70. So what you slightly missed your focus? Lots of the most famous photos in the world were slightly soft
  71. Before shooting, ask yourself why this image and not another
  72. Be inspired by other’s work but do not compare yourself. If you perceive the person as better you will become complacent, if you perceive that person as better you will become depressed.
  73. Being jealous of other’s photography is usually a sign of you not focusing enough on your own
  74. Some great photos can be made while you were chasing another, always be open!
  75. The eye goes for the part with most contrast in your images
  76. Don’t get bogged down with “Is this street photography”? It’s ALL photography at then end of the day
  77. There’s only 3 times you have control: At the time of exposure, at the time of post processing, at the time of editing, make the most out of each
  78. Watch people’s body languages, they are as strong as lines in your images
  79. If your photos are not good enough, the missing element is YOU
  80. Mix your other passions with photography. Can you can fuse music & your photography?
  81. Beware of your emotions about your own photography, good or bad, treat them as opinions
  82. If you are stuck in your photography, consider the problems you face as the exact lessons you need
  83. Never be anybody else than yourself as photographer, be the most you can be at being yourself
  84. Photographs can be divided in 3 aspects: The visual, the emotional, the technical. Blend all 3 well. This is one of the most important of these street photography tips for beginners.
  85. Some photos can be technically perfect and yet do nothing for you. Emotions trump logic
  86. The eye is attracted to movement, you can use slow shutter speed to your benefit
  87. Build you own castle. Get your own website, your creativity will flow because you are working on your own stuff
  88. Make your own gallery. Print your stuff out and hang them at home, your creativity will also get a boost
  89. There’s a time to shoot but there’s also a time to ponder about your images
  90. Always question your photography: Why are your shooting? What’s your purpose? Why do you do the things you do? 
  91. Shoot what is closest to you first. Family, environment, it is usually the most meaningful work
  92. Resolve to be a lifelong learner, photography is an endless pursuit, you will never arrive
  93. To make the most out of other photographers, deconstruct their work and see why it works
  94. Composition is a fancy word for design and design is another fancy word for arrangement. When photographing always see all the elements and seek to arrange them in a pleasing way to draw the eye to your subject. This is one of the most important composition mindset of these street photography tips for beginners.
  95. People see in terms of broad shapes first, then they see the details. Shoot accordingly
  96. You have a blind spot. Keep that in mind when receiving critiques you might find negative.
  97. Your best shot might not be in front of you, but in your back or by your side
  98. Your background is as important as your subject
  99. Look for relationships between the elements of your frame
  100. Self portraits either show you how you wish to be perceived, how you perceive yourself or how you think others perceive you
  101. Shoot everything as if it was the LAST time you would see them. What’s in front of the camera or what’s in the back might not be there tomorrow
  102. Film is pre-processed. Digital is designed to give you the blandest image as possible. Learn post-processing
  103. The cure for gear lust is lusting after images themselves, not the gear they are made with
  104. Look at your past images to look at where you are going (or where you can go)
  105. Fulfillment in photography comes from surpassing yourself daily
  106. Your eye will be drawn to the part of your frame that has the most contrast
  107. What you put in a frame is as important as what you don’t put in a frame
  108. Anything that does not bring your attention to your subject detracts
  109. Being a photographer is an exercise of observation. It’s picking up what others miss
  110. Layer your images, think in terms of 3, foreground, midground, background
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So what can you conclude from these street photography tips for beginners? Well the first is, it just ain’t that simple. It’s not JUST about shooting random people going down the streets, it’s about the visual, the technical AND the emotional. In other words the eye, heart and mind.

Second is that street photography is plastic. There are some rigid parts, like eye travel that you cannot break like grammar rules, but the rest is really about creativity.

Last of these street photography tips for beginners, on the mindset side of things is don’t be closed minded. This means two things, one has to do with criticism. I’ve only met two kinds of people who keep saying “I don’t care about what people think about my images” the first has been REALLY good photographers who know what they are doing and take a stand for their work, and the second is snowflakes who are simply afraid of criticism while they can’t even point to why their images work.

If you are on the learning path, keep yourself open. The second part of this is not to be so fixed about shooting one type of images while there are perfectly good ones right in front of your nose.

Conclusion

There you have it, 110 street photography tips for beginners, I hope you enjoyed them! Let me know your favorite one in the comments down below.

If you would like to go further, there’s a step-by-step online street photography course, it’s a brain dump of everything I know as a graphic designer and street photographer, made it with another photographer who’s been under the wings of a museum curator. I also have a street photography magazine, Inspired Eye.

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