Are you looking for Street Photography in Miami? Look no further. I lived in the Miami area for years before moving abroad. Unlike many other street photography locations it has it’s specific challenges that you need to prepare for to make the best out of your shoot. Let’s dig right in…
- Street Photography in Miami: Inspiration and tips
Street Photography in Miami: Inspiration and tips
1. Go to this street
If you have ever done street photography in New York or Hong Kong, the difference with Miami can be staggering. The busiest street in Miami doesn’t have much in terms of crowds at all. I went to the central business district hoping for lots of buildings and shadows like in New York but the lack of people (even if you don’t really need humans for street) made me go elsewhere, so…
What is the best street for street photography? The best one in Miami is Ocean Drive. Just go up and down the streets shooting and go to the parallel streets, but a lot of the action is on Ocean drive.
If you don’t want to go all the way there, there is a smaller strip of interest in Fort Lauderdale in the Las Olas beach area. Actually the images for tip 4,5,6 are from Fort Launderdale. They made for better examples so I used them but both areas are so similar all the tips are valid for both locations. Also, Because of the lighting conditions in Miami, it’s recommended that you have at least the basics of exposure down, at least for the next 2 following tips…
2. Use the sky in Your favor
For many of the street shots you will shoot in Miami, the background WILL be the sky. Or at least a large part of it will be, so it’s one of those areas (as I said in my street photography book) where you will have to be constantly aware of your background and especially where you are pointing your camera. If you are walking down ocean drive near the restaurants (it’s in the shades) and you point your camera to the direction of the beach, your exposure will be blown. So use the sky in your favor, make it a part of your shots, but be aware that with the very harsh sun, it can blow your shots easily. The shot above ended up as the cover ofr these LR presets (All the images on this page processed with them). You can either just always be aware of this or you can…
3. Overpower the sun
Due to the harsh sun and the lack of shades, very often your subjects and their faces will be in the shadows and your images will be underexposed (because you are trying to expose correctly for the sky). That is why Miami is the ideal city to do flash street photography in broad daylight. With a flash you can keep your sky background well exposed and have your subjects lit up. You do not need an external flash, my built-in camera flash did the job perfectly.
4. These “guns” make interesting subjects
What makes Miami special for street photography is the kind of subject you can find there. Many guys pump iron and are not afraid to show off their muscles in the streets. You’ll get plenty of images if you focus solely on the shirtless guys and the good news is, there’s many. Where else to show the results of your gym membership than at the beach, right?
5. Focus on the swimwear
But what about the women? There’s a huge bikini culture there. You don’t even need to go to the beach proper, you’ll see a few women walking around in Bikinis, and they make a great subject. You’ll want to be careful however. You don’t want some guy thinking you were shooting his girlfriend’s butt.
6. Look for the rides
Muscles? Check. Bikinis? Check. What else can there possibly be in Miami? One word: Cars. Lamborghinis, Ferarris, Convertibles, you name it, you’ll see it. Whomever is driving is probably already used to be photographed with the car or welcomes it, so it makes it an easy subject to approach. I have yet to have a photo of people riding nice cars that I am satisfied with so the photo above is for illustration purposes only. I have a picture in my head I would like to photograph: On the left of the image there’s a woman in a bikini walking down the streets (her back to the camera) and she is oblivious to the shirtless guy on the right with a convertible trying to get her attention.
7. Shoot the hot stuff
There’s quite a few subjects you’ll find showing off, but you’ll also find quite plenty that make a statement with their shirts. You’ll find “I’m not perfect, I’m limited edition” , “life’s a beach” or like the image above this guy who has a shirt that points down to his junk that reads “5 Dollar foot-long”. The “paradise” writing on the right is just the icing on the cake.
8. Capture people outside restaurants
In the Ocean drive strip, there are two areas, broadly speaking. There’s the side where you go to the beach and then there is the side where there’s the buildings. That side is mostly made of restaurants and a lot of them have an employee in the front who’s job it is to draw you inside to order and eat. These make for easy subjects, and because they all are in relatively the same distance from the streets you can pre-focus your lens and shoot when they are in focus.
Alternatively you can turn your lens to the people who are outside the restaurant. Both of these subjects will be in the shade (the side with the restaurants is covered) so it’s better to use flash.
9. Notice the Reflections
In Miami, there’s a lot of people outside the restaurants, so a lot of your images will be of that. But if you pay attention enough, there are some places where people are sitting down right in front of the window, and you can photograph them there, or play around with the reflections.
10. Got to the beach itself
If you are near the beach, why not go to the beach itself? Street Photography at the beach is a theme many street photographers like. You can spend a whole day just going up and down the beach looking for images, Miami beach IS one of the world’s famous beaches so lots of life to be photographed there. The shot above wasn’t even at the beach proper, I didn’t even want to go get sand on my feet so I waited patiently for a shot like the above and made it.
There you have it, 10 actionable tips for street shooting in Miami. The biggest challenge is really dealing with the sky and making your subjects interesting. Great shots can be made with an open mind and the will to pull out the flash. It’s not 100% necessary but sometimes depending on the weather, a necessity. Since you are interested in street photography, would you like to upgrade your images? If so, check out my online street photography course. I also have a magazine and video combo I put out monthly and a book perfect for beginners.