Are you wondering what is composition in street photography? This is a great question. Why? Because lots of street photography nowadays “forgets” composition and that makes the images look bland and like snapshots. So the fact that you are wondering about this makes you ahead of a lot of street shooters. So let's dig in right away.
What is composition in street photography?
Composition in street photography is the act of arranging visual elements in an elegant manner. It is bringing visual order to the often chaotic streets. There are certain things, when done properly the brain sees as “orderly” and it's the job of the street photographer to make the images seem like it was constructed by hand. Look below, what side looks like it's been composed?
It is the right one. Why? Because it looks like it followed a pattern. In this case, the pattern of “like with like”.
Why is composition important in street photography?
Why is it one just can't simply point and shoot in street photography? Why is composition important? It is because composition is one of the biggest elements that separates a mere snapshot to real street photography. When a photo is well composed, it feels like the photographer knew what they were doing.
Before becoming a street photographer, I was a trained graphic designer. The designer’s task is to take visual elements like text and images and arrange them in a visually pleasing way. My first month as a photographer, I printed one of my images and one of my photographer friends saw it and yelled, stunned “How do you do that?!?”
That kind of reaction does not come from just pointing your camera at the streets and shooting. I could compose images better than he could because I understood that on a visual level street photography is nothing more than graphic design, bringing visual order to the chaos of the streets.
If you are reading this, you are probably interested in composing better in your images. I reveal graphic design secrets for street photographers in this course here. It's the most extensive composition course you can find because I hold nothing back.