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Street Photography

by Philip Greenspun, June 1999 (updated January 2007)

"Stare.  It is the way 
to educate your eye, and more.  
Stare, pry, listen eavesdrop.  
Die knowing something.  
You are not here long."

Walker Evans (in a draft text to accompany the hidden camera subway photographs)

The best thing about street photography: serendipity

The best thing about street photography is that it is possible for the final viewer of a print to see more than the original photographer. One of the great things about a city is that more things are happening, even within a small neighborhood, at any moment than any human can comprehend. Photography allows us to freeze one of those moments and study all of the small dramas that were taking place.

In this photo inside Greenwich Village's French Roast, the photographer was trying to get a picture of the tuned-out New Media exec with the women conversing in the background. The photographer carefully adjusted on-camera flash and ambient exposure so that the lighting is evenly balanced on subjects both inside and outside the restaurant. What the photographer did not see, that we can see, is that there is also a dog fight going on outside.

Here are a bunch of photos in which interesting details were missed by the photographer at the time of the exposure, but caught on the film or sensor.

French Roast, 6th Avenue and 11th, Manhattan 1995.
At the Wasque Reservation, Chappaquiddick, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

black dog in the corner

Play the Chessmaster. Harvard Square. Cambridge, MA 1998.

photographer in the upper right corner

Venice Beach, California.

Venice Beach, California, even weirder and more varied when frozen in time

Volume, Volume, Volume

Garry Winogrand is famous for having exposed three rolls of Kodak TRI-X black and white film on the streets of New York City every day for his entire adult life. That's 100 pictures a day, 36,500 a year, a million every 30 years. Winogrand died in 1984 leaving more than 2500 rolls of film exposed but undeveloped, 6500 rolls developed but not proofed, and 3000 rolls proofed but not examined (a total of a third of a million unedited exposures).

This is the kind of dedication that you need to bring to a street photography project if you hope to achieve greatness.


The classic technique for street photography consists of fitting a wide (20mm on a full-frame camera) or moderately wide-angle (35mm) lens to a camera, setting the ISO to a moderate high speed (400 or 800), and pre-focusing the lens. Pre-focusing? How do you know how far away your subject will be. It turns out that it doesn't matter. Wide angle lenses have good depth of field. If your subject is 10 feet away and the lens is set for 12 feet, you'd probably need to enlarge to 16x20" before noticing the error, assuming a typical aperture. This is why the high ISO setting is important. Given a fixed shutter speed, the higher the ISO setting, the smaller the aperture. The smaller the aperture, the less critical it is to focus precisely. The extreme case of this is a pinhole camera, for which there is no need to focus at all.

Street photographers traditionally will set the lens at its hyperfocal distance. This distance depends on the lens focal length and the aperture but the basic idea is that it is the closest distance setting for which subjects at infinity are still acceptably sharp. With fast film and a sunny day, you will probably be able to expose at f/16. With a 35mm lens focussed to, say, 9 feet, subjects between 4.5 feet and infinity will be acceptably sharp (where "acceptable" means "if the person viewing the final photograph doesn't stick his eyes right up against it").

A modern alternative is to use a camera with a very high-performance autofocus system and a zoom lens. The Canon EOS bodies coupled with the instant-focusing ring ultrasonic motor Canon lenses (about half of the EOS lenses use these motors) are an example of what can work. How important is modern technology? Testing out the Mamiya 7 rangefinder camera, a mechanical design straight out of the 1920s, doing some street work in Guatemala, my yield of good images was as high as it ever was with the Canons.

Whether you go modern or traditional, many of your pictures will be ruined due to poor focus, subject motion, hasty composition, etc. Don't feel bad if you only get one great picture out of 1000. If you're using a digital camera, you won't even have to lose sleep over how much film and processing you're wasting.


The photo at left has a subject in sharp focus. The photo at right has more life. Both probably would need to be edited out.

A few more from Mexico...

Miami, 1995, from Costa Rica; Canon EOS-5, 35-350 lens, program autoexposure, Fuji Super G + ISO 400 neg film

This photo, taken from the passenger seat of a car stopped at a red light, photo illustrates the capabilities of the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM, (buy from Amazon) (review) (actually taken with an older version of the same lens, the 35-350L). Garry Winogrand's work went downhill very quickly when he moved to Los Angeles and began photographing people from the right seat of cars.

Sheepdogs on 14th Street.  Manhattan 1995.

a few from Sweden...

One of many Swedes using a cell-phone in Stockholm Drottningholm.  Stockholm, Sweden

and Germany...

Front yard of Linderhof.  Where Bavaria's King Ludwig II lived. English Garden. Munich.

and Ireland..

Temple Bar. Dublin, Ireland.

and Israel (Ireland's neighbor in the UN, separating Israel from Iraq)..

Talking on the cell phone. Jerusalem

China is one of the world's best places for street photography because (a) there are so many people, (b) so much happens out in the open. Here are a few images from China:

Coal delivery. Hutong.  Beijing Bicycles.  Beijing Prince Gong's Mansion.  Beijing

Japan is a good place to see extremes, either people practicing ancient ways or people overwhelmed by modernity. Here are some images from the photo.net guide to Japan:


Text and images copyright Philip Greenspun.

Article revised January 2007.

Readers' Comments

Add a comment

Mani Sitaraman , November 23, 2000; 10:42 P.M.

It would have been nice if some black and white street pictures had been included as well. B&W has been the aesthetic (and practical) choice of many street (as opposed to reportage) photographers, because especially in a street setting with random colors everywhere, B&W clarifies the intent of the image. This is not to say powerful color street photography is not possible. There are many who practice it-but the novice reading these pages might do well to give B&W a try as well.

Jan Mattsson , November 24, 2000; 07:00 P.M.

"careful use of on-camera flash"? Excuse me, but the flash is extremely visible in the photogrpah.

Samuel Dilworth , November 25, 2000; 06:33 P.M.

The flash light is reflected in two of the windows - the upper window of the door in the left, and the one above the [right hand side] girl's head. It is also reflected in the man's spectacle frames, in his watch's strap and bracelet, and on his shoe. The man in the foreground is significantly more exposed than the two women, and is rather flat due to the shadow less nature of on-camera flash. There is considerable glare on both the doorframe and the post supporting the rear window. I don't think flash was appropriate here; it was certainly not used carefully.

When I saw "Street Photography" I jumped for the link immediately. I was rather disappointed, like others, that there are no black and white photographs. B&W, to me, epitomizes street photography. I could only spot one photograph (the first one, girl on steps) in which the subject was actually the person for that person’s own intrinsic worth - a street portrait, if you know what I mean. Preferably candid. The one of the girl on the steps is good, although the sunglasses detract from it. Eyes always hold expression. Of course, asking the girl to take the glasses off may not have went down well. Posed street photographs can be good, but I have yet to see one that doesn’t appear obviously posed. Pics of many different people, in different countries, all chatting on phones, are interesting for documentation, but to list them as teaching examples on "street photography"? The Venice Beach photo is interesting, in a different way. There is nothing candid about it - six people are staring directly at the camera lens. Nevertheless, it has got tremendous detail, and showcases a wide variety of human beings, young and old, male and female, black and white, fit and fat, introspective and out-going, and even a good ole dog (looking rather bored with it all). Colour was appropriate here. Well done with this one!

Andrew Grant , November 26, 2000; 08:04 P.M.

If flash had not been used in that photo, the interior of the coffee shop would probably have been underexposed. Maybe a bounce flash should have been used.

George Bielinski , November 26, 2000; 09:33 P.M.

Actually, myself I like the way the flash is visible in that photograph: the flash reflection makes you aware of the photographer's existence there (then you have the media exec, two women, the dogfight and the photographer taking the picture). IMHO it makes the photograph a little more interesting.

Michael Yacavone , November 28, 2000; 01:24 P.M.

Hey, if you want B&W, can't you just use the "Desaturate" command in Photoshop? It's a digital image at this point....

Samuel Dilworth , November 28, 2000; 08:31 P.M.

My dear friend Michael, those photographs were *taken* in colour. The photographer knew this, and composed accordingly. You cannot simply desaturate a colour image in Photoshop and get a decent B&W image. The *style* of your photography, at camera level, must change in B&W. Try using "Desaturate" in Photoshop, with the images on this page, to see what I mean. A good colour image will nearly always be poor in B&W (and vice-versa, if you go to the bother of colouring it).

Colin James , November 29, 2000; 09:48 A.M.

"Smile! You're on Candid Canon!"

If you're ten feet away from your "victim" while carrying an 80-200 2.8 lens, would you characterize that as "shyness" or "cowardice?" One can make a lot of successful arguments against PhilG's photography, but he's certainly not timid. Telephoto lenses serve very well to isolate subjects, and to preserve candidness - which many people feel (differently from you) is the essence of "street photography." I use all focal lengths in its pursuit.

For what it's worth, I also agree that traditional street photography is done with B&W film, and that "desaturating" a color shot doesn't really substitute. All of the really good ultra-high speed films best suited for stealthy shooting are B&W anyhow.

George D. Gianni , November 30, 2000; 02:36 P.M.

Street photography? I am certainly not a specialist in classifying photography but I can hardly imagine that most of the above pictures would fall into this category. Whether they are taken with a 24, 35, 50 or 85 mm lens on a colour or B+W film with or without flash is irrelevant, as long as they express something about the subject. And street photography tells a lot about the photographer and his interaction with the subjects.

What I can see in most of these pictures is a mocking attitude of a selfish photographer who was very very remote from his victims (not only physically) and sometimes felt uneasy. The Tsukiji Market picture could have been taken by a vegetarian who hates fish. The fruit lady in Costa Rica would possibly not like her picture taken like this from behind. And the young lady on the steps has no more expression than the plurality of dogs in most of the pictures. Strangely enough, sometimes I felt these photos demonstrate "Dogs in Street Photography" instead of individuals in daily life.

BUT: I do like three of the pictures, actually Phil at his best. The nuns and monks along with that American (?) tourist with a funny hat behind the lady with a cell phone in Jerusalem, the twin newspapers in Tokyo subway and, best of all, the man reading newspaper in Dublin. If this one were in black and white, we would have missed the colour of his tie!

t. bomba , December 02, 2000; 05:09 P.M.

I'd like to add that I too take a lot of random photos on a daily basis. I started with Canon EOS cameras then switched to the Canon Digital Powershot 20 and now also use the Canon G1 with telephoto lens. Digital makes it so much cheaper and incites me to more experimentation. I mount the G1 on my car window mount from Bogen and use the remote to shoot while I'm driving. The car in essence is the viewfinder and I find myself circling the block or making uturns for better light or shooting angles. (No accidents or near misses yet!) The remote allows me to zoom and shift shooting modes and the G1 accepts the EOS external flashes! Give it a try! It also works in a daypack or briefcase.

Mike Morgan , December 03, 2000; 10:50 P.M.

This is turning into an interesting discussion. I can see both sides. I remember before I got into photography a young lady "mugged" me with her camera. I was fishing for musky, and looked the part. She was trying to be a street photographer, trying to take a candid shot, and I caught her. I scolded her, too, and when she defended herself with, "well, you're in a public place", I really scolded her. But now that I have picked up an interest in photography, and have looked at images, I like seeing candid shots of people. And I like it when the people don't seem to notice the camera (hence the word candid, I guess). Not that a candid shot requires anonymity, but many of the best street shots I have seen appeared to be taken candidly and anonymously. Just my opinion, which has changed over the years. Getting to know your subject first sometimes helps, but sometimes random shots of strangers yeilds good results, too.

Efrain Sain , December 04, 2000; 10:53 P.M.

For another perspective on street photography (actually subway photog.) see http://www.davebeckerman.com/ and click on the article "Photography on the subway." I like his writing and love his photos.

In addition, Jeff Spirer, a regular of this phot.net community, has some excellent stuff at www.spirer.com.

No offense to Phil, but the work of those guys is what I think of when I think of street photography. As mentioned by others, I favor the B&W aesthetic for this type of photography.

joe bob , December 29, 2000; 06:37 P.M.

This is not a perfect fix for color pictures...but if you change it to grayscale or desaturate it then go to brightness and contrast you can make the shadows and what not more prominet so it looks more like a B&W.

Gerry Walden , December 31, 2000; 12:30 P.M.

There is a great deal more to 'street photography' than merely photographing in the street. These images miss the mark for me I am afraid.

doug kim , February 19, 2001; 01:38 A.M.

While I respect Trevor Hare's opinion, I could not disagree more with him. Cartier-Bresson was known to have covered up his Leica when on the street to hide his intentions from his subjects. Andres Kertesz, whom Cartier-Bresson said that we all indebted to for pioneering street photography, sought to capture life at its most candid on the streets and cafes of Paris. Garry Winnograd also had the ability to take someone's picture without them noticing though he was more or less right on top of them. Read the intro to his book if you don't believe me.

I would have loved to have befriended and talked to all the people that I have taken pictures of or wanted to take picutres of. But all of my photos would have turned into snapshots: people conscious of the camera and probably smiling into the lens.

The potential for street photography to be rude and exploitative is monstrous and this is something that I struggle with everytime I step outside. This is where I agree with Trevor. But every situation is different and there are times where I have refused to expose any film because it did not feel right and I have subsequently missed incredible opportunities. There cannot be any edict dictating what is right or wrong. These decisions are up to each photographer to make according to their own system of values.

And I am thankful that Phil has created this page for us though in the end, it is very disappointing. Are there no street photographers on staff at photo.net?

Jeff Warner , March 08, 2001; 01:09 A.M.

Ah, the essence of Street Photography:

"This photo illustrates the advantages of the Canon 35-350L lens (a $2000 photojournalist's toy). I took it from the passenger seat of a car stopped at a red light."

Using only the equipment you can find on the street... ; )

Ian Cruikshank , April 05, 2001; 02:49 P.M.

Trevor Hare talks about "gaining a bit of empathy before shooting your victims", and accuses Phil of "hit-and-run" photography. I wonder if he would consider Cartier-Bresson a hit-and-run photographer. HCB never tried to interact with his subjects or "get to know them". He didn't bother considering whether they would "like" the way he chose to photograph them. Based on the historical record, I'd say he pretty much INVENTED Street Photography. HCB devoted most of his effort to blending in, like a "fly on the wall", so he could get pictures of people WITHOUT DISTURBING THEM. I think being inconspicuous and unobtrusive is the most important thing in street photography. You must travel fast and light: no photo vest, no camera bag, one small camera and a small prime lens or two, no flash. If you really want to emulate the greats (Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Winogrand, Evans), use a meterless camera and learn to evaluate the light yourself.

Mikhail Arkhipov , April 30, 2001; 02:27 A.M.

Why exactly street photography must be black-and-white, taken with wide-angle lens close to the subject? What a religious approach. This page contains great pictures and I specifically like that they are in color and are DIFFERENT from what I've seen. I am glad that it is not yet another traditional BW street photo gallery.

Gordon Lewis , May 08, 2001; 02:39 P.M.

FWIW, the reason Henri Cartier-Bresson doesn't want his image widely published is because he wants to be able to photograph people anonymously. If everyone knew what he looked like it would give new meaning to the phrase "celebrity photographer." You may think he's being overly sensitive, but imagine if Henri's face was as familiar as Ansel Adams'. He'd be constantly distracted by people wanting to shoot the breeze or asking for autographs. Henri just wants to shoot a few frames and continue on his way -- the same opportunity he affords his subjects.

Leslie Koller , May 28, 2001; 09:37 A.M.

>>This photo illustrates the advantages of the Canon 35-350L lens (a $2000 photojournalist's toy). I took it from the passenger seat of a car stopped at a red light. The rain lead to highly saturated colors. Canon EOS AF

I had to buy my 35-350 lens. Some people get all the luck. What did the driver think?

Very well done article, but I too would have liked B&W.

Ananda Chaudhuri , June 27, 2001; 03:44 P.M.

I live in New York City, and do street photography. I have nothing against colour but it can distract the viewer from the "decisive moment" that the photographer wanted to capture. Besides for me B&W is an advantage since I do my own printing and can make disturbing objects in the backgound less obstrusive.

The choice of lens does not signify anything except for the fact that it is only an instrument to capture the moment, if using a tele lens has better chance of capturing the moment isolated from the background and if it improves the chance of being unnoticed then so be it...I use a 70-300 and a 17-35 and shoot from a distance or from close range...but it is true that a street photographer cannot afford to be shy or be afraid to confront or pacify his subject in situations. In one situation a man in New York city in a fit of rage asked me for the roll of film...I told him to get lost and so he did while making threats of calling the police.

I like to capture fleeting moments, candid portraits and this does not give me an option to introduce myself to my subjects with my visiting card before I take the shot...I believe that empathy for the subject - if important to the photographer - should show in his/her work...morality is a subjective issue, not an absolute one...I am not the one who can figure out whats on a person's mind if and as he knows that he is being photographed...did he like being photographed? Did he dislike but was too polite or shy to tell me that he didn't want to be photographed? Well...as long as I do not know, I assume implicit permission from my subject. If I wanted to find out explicitly I would be talking and not capturing the moments that I wanted to capture. I wonder what would Elliot Erwit do if he was required to obtain permission before he took the wonderful pictures showing the moods and moments of dogs.[this is not no imply that dogs are same or differnt from human beings as photographic subjects ;-) ]. As Elli Wallach said in the movie 'The Good Bad and the Ugly' - "When you shoot, you shoot, dont talk"...it was shooting of a different kind though but its principle applies to street photography as well.

But it is also true that the photographer can introduce himself to his subjects and win their trust and take pictures over weeks and months...this improves the chances of better framing, lighting and yet capturing the candid mood and the moment since the photographer is not viewed as an alien any more and can work at close range without worried about being spotted.Often I visit a place where I am familiar face now, at least to quite a few, and returning with gift prints helps to build a friendship. I can take pictures with the candid mood working at close range...sometimes point blank with a wide lens But that is fundamentally different from the pictures you take as you walk down the street while trying to keep yourself inconspicous.

Many beginner photographers think that people dont like to be photographed and this may be true in many places but from my experience in taking people shots in streets of Tokyo, New York and Calcutta, I can say that it is not generally true...many do like to be photographed, many dont even know if they are being photographed and most apparently dont care even if they know. There are a few who are paranoid about being photographed and certainly I am not going to let the moment pass by making such an assumption. If someone finds out - as sometime someone always does since not everybody can blend in like a fly on the wall - and expresses dissent, I shall respect that. Although, in some situations I have also asked permission before shooting.

The street is a public place and the photographer has as much right as the artist with a sketch book making sketches of people. The problem is that the barrel of the lens pointing at someone could have a different psychological effect than the brief glances of the sketch artist.

Street photography is not about photographing poverty, squalor or misery, it is not about photographing homeless people on the streets, it can show humorous, funny, sad, joyful etc moments.

If the street photographer is a "mugger" as is suggested in one of the previous comments then HCB is the greatest "mugger" known so far and I would dream about being a "mugger" like him and of course never be able to achieve that dream. A true street photographer's natural instinct is to shoot first and to worry later.

Juan Buhler , July 25, 2001; 04:39 A.M.

> FWIW, the reason Henri Cartier-Bresson doesn't want his image widely
> published is because he wants to be able to photograph people
> anonymously. If everyone knew what he looked like it would give new
> meaning to the phrase "celebrity photographer."

Cartier Bresson is 92 years old. AFAIK, he hasn't been taking pictures for quite a few years, dedicated instead to painting.

As for street photography, I'm no expert, but none of the images in this page do much for me. An image doesn't just work because it is a candid picture of a stranger in the street. It needs interesting expressions, or action, or striking composition. Here is how I feel about this issue, with some examples of pictures that didn't make it into my galleries.

I'm a beginner at this, and suffer horribly when trying to get close to people and photograph them. But that's part of what makes it interesting. A long telephoto would take the fun out of it.

Richard Dean Williams , August 04, 2001; 06:22 P.M.

This is my first visit to photo.net and so far I like it. Everyone will see a picture or body of work differently, and have various interpretations of said work, and it is good that we can express our comments openly. However, I believe comments of Amanda Chadheri were to the point and exactly on target. I agree 100%. All this about getting to know the subject, etc., cannot apply at all times, as many great photographs would be missed. If you fully believe that you have to get to know the person, try street photography in the arab world, where they still believe the lens on a camera is the evil eye and will capture/steal their soul. I broke into street photography in Morocco, and it wasn't easy. Also, why is it called street photography? Why not just people photography, or moment photography, because that is what it truly is.

Joe Photo , August 12, 2001; 12:22 P.M.

I doubt that HCB had to worry about getting a model release for his photos. I like the shot of the lady on the stairs. It makes me wonder what she's waiting for. Who is she going to share that quart with? Did you have to approach her for a release? All of these questions make it an interesting photo to me. I've taken quite a few similar shots but never approached the subject so are they doomed to the albums I keep them in?

James Gleeson , August 20, 2001; 06:23 P.M.

I don't know if you would consider this the same as 'street photography', but there's some excellent [what I would call] 'urban' photography at http://www.urban75.org/photos/, ranging from New York to Birmingham, England. They're mostly devoid of people but are still very evocative - almost as if the absent commuters, pedestrians, workers and residents leave a mark on the street even when they're not there.

Eric Riutort , December 02, 2001; 01:19 P.M.

An interesting discussion. Its all subjective - either you like the work or you don't. I've photographed both candid and interactive shots of people from Brazil to India to China. Sometimes candid is appropriate, sometimes its not. But if you don't shoot, you won't have a photo. It looks like what everyone is discussing is the definition of street photography - my question is, is there one and does it matter?

The links that other comments recommended are great!

Brian Sharkey , January 11, 2002; 11:16 P.M.

A comment on Trevor Hare's November 29, 2000 entry: He says: "Sorry but I do not feel this page demonstrates street photography. The images mostly look as if taken with telephoto lenses. (Shyness or cowardice?)..." He prefers to use "a Normal lenses so the photographer had to interact with his fellow humans..."

On the contrary, interacting with the subject can often disrupt the candidness of the shot. Real life changes abruptly when the subject is acutely aware that he is being photographed.

Trevor adds: "Also when photographing poverty try and preserve the subjects dignity...". I agree totally, and to do just that, a distant shot often seems more appropriate to me. How can a down and out person's dignity be preserved when a photographer is in his face saying, in effect, "let me take your picture because you are so deprived."? Cowardice to take a shot from a distance? I think it can be a sign of true respect. ---B

Belinda Tan , January 16, 2002; 04:22 A.M.

Some of the best street/candid photography shots can be seen from "Life" magazine.. Here, I like the shot "Canal Street Manhattan 1995".

Ray Cerx , April 11, 2002; 10:18 P.M.

I find it very interesting that more hasn't been said about people and their right not to be photographed. I consider myself a very serious amateur. I enjoy photographing just about everything and have had a considerable amount of formal art training at the University of South Florida as well as technical photography training at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. The moral and legal issues of photographing people against their wishes intrigues me.

It is my personal opinion that everyone (excluding people who knowing place themselves in the public eye) has the right to determine how and when their image is used. The justification that an image is art or that the image could not have been captured in any other way should not be the justification for a photographer to use another person’s image. It is a matter of integrity and I feel that anyone who violates this rule affects the integrity of every photographer.

Babatunde Martins , May 18, 2002; 11:59 A.M.

Hmm. I have come to the conclusion that street photography is my favorite outlet for my lust for photography. When I first came to photo.nt this was the first post I read as the "street photography" title caught my eye. I believe that the idea of street photography is simple in that you are out to capture fleeting moments that describe an environment or people interacting and the medium in which you do this I think matters not. I first started my street photography using a 28-135mm IS lense on a CanonA2(eos5) body. This was fine as I was free and clear to frame almost anything that I wanted to at almost any distance(that 135mm would alow). I also had my hassleblad camera out on sunny days shooting street stuff and that was actually twice as much fun though I would sometimes become the subject rather that what was infront of my lense (hehe) I then picked up a nikon f3 and a 24 mm lense. Ahhhhhh. I found myself getting much closer(sometimes 3 feet) to my subjects but the outcome is amazing. I like both colour and blacknwhite film but I do feel that B&W film alows more focus on composition as to not have the colours govern the images. I have colour and black and white images in my folders here on photo.net if anyone is interested. http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=170873 http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=171338 feel free to contact me or tell me of more street photography sites too , I would love to see more !

Image Attachment: BabatundeMartins.jpg

Simon Shapiro , July 23, 2002; 09:51 A.M.

This article and the one on Winogrand prompts me to put down a question that has been at the back of mind which I find relavant. Perhaps others have a view to contribute.

At the most basic level the question is "So I love taking pictures. Walking around I often find I see things as a sequence of pictures. If you capture all these images, what do you do with them?"

I feel Winogrand must have had similar feelings. Hence, a million pictures later and a third of them unedited. There must be something pyschological about capturing the image. But what do you do with them afterwards?

Does anyone have the same feelings or have some other insight into this matter?

Babatunde Martins , August 02, 2002; 07:19 A.M.

As to what I do with all my street photos. I just have lots of negatives archived in folders. I dont print everything. Much of what I have on photo.net is scanned negatives. I sometimes will see someone I have taken a photo of in passing and give them a card to contact me, I give them a print as my own payment back to them (thats nothing for I have taken there image and If I show anyone and its anygood, thats promotion leading to more money for me so why not?) I have heard street photography described as "the stolen art" This is why I tend not to take pictures of the deprived for I see little point in exploiting. And when I have, I give them money, a lunch or a dinner for the guy laying in the street drooling/ starving /drunk, that someone photographs then posts here for self agrandisement gets none of that glory if hes half smiling or not.

thomas scott , November 24, 2002; 06:59 P.M.

It seems a more apropos name for this subsection would be "guerilla photography" since the nature of the subject matter is almost a mystery until it's encountered. Furthermore, I understand the other readers who note that the flash is present in the picture. My concern is based on this. How can you truly catch people unawares using a flash in public? Don't they notice things like that? And do you have to get releases from them if you decide to exhibit or sell their likenesses?

Babatunde Martins , April 15, 2003; 12:27 P.M.

In the end using flash or not will only make an impact on your standing once you have taken the photo. Using the flash will obviously draw attention altering the living aspect of any images past the first click. Not using flash may give you more chances at capturing the slice of life without the blast intrusion of flash. It all depends on how you wish to be in your environment. Do you want to document or become a part of it? It will show in the images. Personally I think that street photography turns quickly into outdoor studio candid portrature when flash is introduced.

F D , May 07, 2003; 05:46 P.M.

> Maybe this is why Bill Brandt is a legend and Phil isnt

This sounded like a very cynical comment itself. Legend or not, from what I know is, despite your disagreement with Phil, I won't be into photography today, if it wasn't for Phil. So, please give him a credit. I believe his contibution in making photography knowledge available online/public for free is undeniable.


Wieslaw Zdaniewski , May 13, 2003; 01:12 P.M.

I do not support quantitative approach to photography. One of the Marxist axioms was that “quantity will convert itself into quality”. After 50 years of social experimentation the communism fell miserably. Although I admire work of Gary Winograd, and his lifestyle (of taking thousands of pictures) I believe in those few pictures selected for publishing. I advocate restrain in manufacture of garbage!

perry a. , January 30, 2004; 03:32 P.M.

for all you who say the photographer must interact with their " victims" to be a real street photographer, what's the point? are we talking candid photography or social work here? and just because they happen to be poor or disheveled or one race or the other or drunk or hungry or whatever else you can think of, they are still a part of our culture, like it or not. and i think that making a record of that is what is interesting. fifty years from now people may actually enjoy seeing "us" as we were. some of the most interesting photographs i can remember looking at were of people. in their natural surrounding. acting natural. it allows one to see what it was like living at that particular time in history. to interact with people and then take their photo is more like a snapshot. posed expressions and fake settings. as for shooting from a vehicle, so what? was the photo interesting? was it well done? isn't that all that matters? "street" photography is about what you find on the "street". period. i have taken candids using a point and shoot walking down the street. i have also asked permission first. i have also used a telephoto from a vehicle, because if i had been seen taking the picture, i would have probably gotten into a fight or worse. some people just don't trust a photographer. they either think they are 5-O, or they will do their best to recover the picture. and then you have a problem. for those who stick to photographing "safe" people, ( and for those knuckelheads who wonder what i mean by "safe", i mean your typically white middle class surburbanite) i guess you can try to ask permission first or become chummy and then ask if you can "log their photo for posterity". but then it isn't candid. is it? and nothing can ruin a candid shot more than a posed facial expression. i photograph the seamier side of our culture in a different way than i photograph the "safe" people. you have to, where i live. they respond totally different. as for invasion of someone's privacy, too bad. if they are out in public i will take their picture if i damn well please. i don't post them anywhere nor do i sell them. i think they are an interesting segment of our society and maybe someone else, someday will think so too, and enjoy them just for what they are. there are any number of techniques you can use. and they are all "street" photography. and so, to those of you who won't take a candid picture of a homeless person because they don't want to injure their dignity, try asking them sometime. and while you're at it, ask them when they allowed their dignity to take it's leave in the first place. just make sure you have an escape route planed in advance.

Paul Alford , April 16, 2004; 07:16 P.M.

QUOTE My dear friend Michael, those photographs were *taken* in colour. The photographer knew this, and composed accordingly. You cannot simply desaturate a colour image in Photoshop and get a decent B&W image. The *style* of your photography, at camera level, must change in B&W. Try using "Desaturate" in Photoshop, with the images on this page, to see what I mean. A good colour image will nearly always be poor in B&W (and vice-versa, if you go to the bother of colouring it). UNQUOTE

In my world, a good image should work in both Colour & B&W, i.e. desaturate and it's still a good image. Now, a mediocre colour image might not work as a B&W....

John Gallagher , May 03, 2004; 03:27 P.M.

"i have also used a telephoto from a vehicle, because if i had been seen taking the picture, i would have probably gotten into a fight or worse." This was written by Perry on Jan. 30th. This is an example of what future street photographers should not do. Perry's pathetic tactics illustrate what is wrong with street photography. I am a social worker who serves the homeless mentally ill in Detroit. I also do street photography with this population. I approach them respectfully and I intend to use their images for their benefit in the form of advocacy. Peep show voyeurs like Perry do not respect people. I'm not surprised that some one might be offended when he is shooting from a car window like a nature photographer taking a picture of a bison. Photography can be used to acheive wonderful objectives and also can serve to make some morally crippled individual feel good about himself/herself. The way Perry and many others approach photography makes the camera a barrier between people rather than a bridge. People do have a right not to be photographed. It doesn't matter if they are in a public place or not. If they do not consent to the photograph, your are shamefully violating their privacy. Some people might be surprised to find out that when you approach a person like a human being they usually consent to being photographed. Perry likes the seemier side of life. Perry likes the dirty underworld. The lower socio-economic classes are so heavily photographed because the upper classes have denied them the basic human tenets of individualism, privacy and autonomy. They are, to Perrys of the world, helpless fish in the barrell waiting to be 'shot'. It should be noted that the more priviledged classes have never been photographed in the way that the poor have because they have the financial and social means to remain hidden. Access to their world is exclusive. Access to the poor is viewed as a right to Perry, not a priviledge to be granted by the subject. Perry should know that these poor people are fathers, cousins, uncles, friends, co-workers and neighbors to some one. People in their lives care about them. People who know them care about them. If you want to photograph some one get to know them, even if for 10 minutes. Ask them their name, what they like to do, and so one. You know what is really sad? Many of the people I have met as a social worker and as a street photographer are more ethical and respectful that the disgusting Perrys of the world. They are often victims of circumstance, crime, systemic prejudices, unemployment, mental illness, substance abuse, and a crumbling social welfare system. They try hard to keep their head up and keep trying despite the odds. They hope, pray and beg for a better future. They try, fail, and then try again. And when they are on their back at their lowest moment a car pulls up, a lens comes out and...

Joe Smith , May 16, 2004; 02:19 A.M.

"People do have a right not to be photographed." You're an idiot. The supreme court has already ruled that anyone in a public setting does not have the right to privacy. Any one can take a picture of them if they wish.

Andrew Nemeth , May 17, 2004; 04:11 P.M.

People do have a right not to be photographed

A lot depends of course of the country you are in. Here in Australia...

"A person, in our society, does not have a right not to be photographed."

(Dowd J, NSW Supreme court, R v Sotheren (2001) NSWSC 204)

Christian Harberts , May 17, 2004; 07:05 P.M.

>> A lot depends of course of the country you are in.

In France, Article 9 of the Civil Code expressely forbids taking pictures of persons in public places, without his or her prior written consent.

Worse, you're not allowed to take pictures of many buildings, either, the most famous case being the Eiffel tower. Not much risk in taking a snapshot, but forget contests or pro work, without filling out the necessary paperwork...


John Gallagher , May 28, 2004; 02:14 P.M.

Joe: Frankly, I'm embarrassed for you for two reasons in particular. The first is that you would turn to immature name calling to express your frustration towards people you disagree with. This demonstrates that you are not capable of engaging other adults in a mature manner. I will, despite my reservations, attempt to approach you in such a manner. The second reason I am embarrassed for you is that you did not understand the basic concept I clearly raised in my previous comment. In no part of my comment did I mention legal barriers for photographing people. I wrote explicity and solely on the ethics of photographing people. Kindly read my comment again so you can better understand where I am coming from. There is no constitutional ammendment requiring we say "God Bless You" when someone sneezes but we do it anyway, don't we? Likewise, there are no laws preventing someone from calling a non-aggressive stranger an "idiot" but we don't do it. Or maybe I can excuse you from the latter statement?

Jeff Ford , June 21, 2004; 07:13 A.M.

Really poor article to credit as being a tutorial. I agree about the 'careful use of flash' comments as it is clearly NOT careful, but clumsey and very full on. Perfect balance of interior exterior levels reduces the sense of divide, it looks unnatural.

'Street photography' is not my thing, I agree completely with the sentiments expressed that it can be very intrusive and unwelcome without obtaining permission from the subjects. Law is not the issue here, its just basic manners.

Alex Tratov , October 08, 2004; 06:24 P.M.

Speaking of equipment. I am a bit surprised nobody mentioned Digicams with swivel LCD viewfinders - Canon Gs and the likes. They make nearly perfect weapons for street shooting. You just keep your camera at the waist level and frame your shot without even looking in your subjects direction. In most cases you can stay next to your "victim" without drawing attention to what you are doing.

Lee McLaughlin , October 29, 2004; 05:27 A.M.

Street Photography xart.com

Street Photography - Lee mcLaughlin

The most enjoyable lens I own is my 12mm-24mm Aspherical. This is a non distorting fish-eye that allows me to get in close---up close and personal - for real! - If I shoot even three feet away from the subject, the punch is gone. Standing about 12 inches from this London lady added to the personal contact feeling for both of us. She enjoyed the attention and conversation as much as me. I did ask first if I may shoot. I usually do. I usually get a yes. Her sincerity and comfort was easy to capture this way. But, would have never been possible with a long lens. I suggest a short lens and a large smile to shoot with on the street whenever possible. I would also recommend aiming for cohesive messages if only simple ones to illustrate emotions or a state of being like; joy, despair, courage, love, humor, etc. See: blind leading the blind, for example. I find that a smile and a clear heart goes a long way to get invitations into other peoples lives. Even if only for a few moments in the continuing 'special world' of travel.

- Cheers and good luck on the street -

Lee McLaughlin , October 29, 2004; 06:12 A.M.

London street person

Here is a sample of the close-up London Lady. Taken with 12mm lens in London August 2004. - Lee Mclaughlin

karen brookes , December 01, 2004; 12:57 A.M.

I have read all the comments re - street photography. Some were quite harsh, while others were encouraging. I guess all though, like my own, are just each individual's opinion whether right or wrong. People have a right to their opinion, and in the same respect people have a right to privacy. While some may consider street photography voyeuristic or intrusive, others just enjoy capturing everyday life and that may include people on the street. I can see why some people feel uncomfortable taking a stranger's photo without permission, in case the stranger actually does mind. But sometimes talking to people beforehand, removes the natural behaviour of the person. When someone knows that you are taking their picture, they tend to play up to the camera or at least not act naturally. It can change the whole expression of someone and the way they behave and in doing so, changes the whole mood of the photo. Talking to the person and asking permission, may also stop them doing whatever it was you wanted to capture in the first place. I've always thought of photography as capturing that one moment in time, that will never be repeated exactly the same way. To capture every emotion and essence of the scene as naturally and as realistically as possible. In some cases you don't have an opportunity to approach people, they may be on the move or doing something that doesn't exactly need your input. (For example the dog fight outside the shop door in the photo above, they may not have been in the mood to discuss your photography options!) Rightly or wrongly, that's my opinion. If you are doing something in public, then you reasonably suspect that you are in full view of everyone around you, and that may mean having your photo taken. (Granted you may not want it caught on film forever for all and sundry.) Anyway, I guess I agree with both sides, it's a difficult argument between capturing a moment in time exactly as it naturally progresses and the ethical dilemma associated with doing something without a person's expressed consent. A photo taken in the moment allows others to see us as we really are and if we stopped to ask for permission, then maybe such emotive photo's as 'Arnaud Blanchard's' in the link below, would be lost and we would never have an opportunity to see the variety of life.

Garry Morris , December 30, 2004; 11:54 A.M.

To preface, I'm no expert, nor do I do this for a living. I'm just a hobbiest. :)

I would have to say that I have shot both candids as well as post-introduction photos of people going about their lives. I'm usually fairly close, and I'd say the subject usually notices me after a couple of shots about 50% of the time. Greater than 95% of the time when I drop the camera and give them a big smile, they smile back. I shoot everything from folks begging on the street, to well-to do commuters. My intent is not to exploit them, but rather to capture a slice of life as I see it. I neither seek out poor areas or rich ones to shoot - I shoot my surroundings. Under no circumstances do I continue shooting if I get a negative response (the subject holds a hand up or gives an unfriendly gesture or acts defensive) - however this rarely happens. Most often it is simple curiosity as to what I might be interested in shooting.

It is darn near impossible to get a proper "slice of life" candid shot with a subject who knows you're there. They might stiffen up, stop, smile and/or look at the camera. Their entire demeanor can change. While sometimes this works for the shot, sometimes it does not.

Introducing politics into this argument is unnecessary. Whether rich or poor - they are in public. Does this mean you should act like a papperazzi (sp) and get in their face no matter their reaction? Certainly not. It does mean that if you see that someone isn't enjoying the attention, you apologize and move on. It is fallacy to suggest that one must sit and ponder for days on the lives of those around them. I'm not concerned about whether they are "struggling against a crumbling socio-economic system" or whatever. That isn't what photography is about (unless you're a political photo-journalist ;) ). To me photography is about creating images that remind me of where I have been, where the world is/has been, and - decades down the road - what life was like at that time. What you might encounter in a day to day existance.

The ethics, I think, lie in your intent (are you Jerry Springer or someone who is interested in capturing images of the times and places in which you live and play - I wish I had such images from when my great-grandmothers and fathers were living), and in your actions post-shot if they notice you. Naturally I'm not going to offer to pull the film out of the camera and trash it, but neither will I continue shooting near someone who is uncomfortable with it. To walk down the street introducing myself to everyone that might fall under the lens is a waste of everyone's time - mine and theirs. Naturally, if I see a shot that I think might warrant more than a quick composition and shot, I might stop and ask the subjects if they would mind if I shot a few images. To those that abhor a candid shot in a public place - tell me you haven't ever taken a photograph that had people in it that you hadn't talked to first to make sure it is ok - not even at a local attraction or monument.

The answer - it lies in the middle. I don't believe you should stand on a city street for an hour trying to get a shot that doesn't have anyone in it that you might think was traumatized in the past or dumped on by an evil rich society - nor do I think you should continue to shoot if someone expresses a dislike. Just be polite and keep a friendly smile on your face and you'll do fine. :)

Magdalena B. , April 08, 2005; 03:13 P.M.

Street from Prague

Goldmakers street (hope translation is correct), Prague, 1984

Golden times of black and white photography, at least in Romania, where the film was developed.

Richard Abrams , April 17, 2005; 11:50 A.M.

I'm a new member who was excited to run across this site entirely by accident, and immediately subscribed.

jay rafiq , June 21, 2005; 06:05 A.M.

jay rafiq , June 21, 2005; 06:07 A.M.

Having read through this article, and after looking at some of the recent work in the street gallery, I have realised that I have long been a great fan of this genre, without knowing that it existed in its own right. I agree and disagree with many points raised here, particularly the fact that street photography is to me at least a 'shady' passtime. Shady as in keeping out of the way of my subjects. I am merely recording a moment of public life as I see it.

I have always had a manual SLR, but have recently been using an Olympus C8080 for my everyday shooting. It has to be said that candid photography is a whole different game when you have a swivel screen, 28-140 fixed lens, and the capacity for hundreds of pictures in one 'sitting'. I am however, not forgetting my film roots, as I have just purchased an OM2-S to accompany my tired OM1, and my new digital tool.

Arthur Bruso , November 03, 2005; 04:13 P.M.

This is what I know from talking to layers and having experts speak to my artist group. If the person in a photograph is showing their face and someone can recognize it, you MUST have a model release from that person if you wnt to have the image PUBLISHED. If the image is PUBLISHED with out a model release, the subject can sue the publication (which in turn will pass the liability on to the photographer). If the images will not be published, no problem unless you are photographing in restricted areas (some subways, buildings and France as mentioned). Somehow, this only seems to matter if the image is making money.

Michael J Hoffman , January 06, 2006; 05:19 A.M.

John Gallagher wrote:

"It should be noted that the more priviledged classes have never been photographed in the way that the poor have because they have the financial and social means to remain hidden. Access to their world is exclusive."

Mr Gallagher, I invite you to peruse a copy of Public Relations by Garry Winogrand. Your point is simply not valid.

I've personally photographed some well-heeled corporate types on the streets of downtown Baltimore, and at various functions occurring at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. My technique is not adjusted according to the subject's socio-economic standing. All subjects are treated equally in my approach to street photography.

jorge figueroa , May 21, 2006; 11:16 A.M.

I belive that using all those expensive toys($2000.00)cameras auto focus auto exposure etc etc,first is not art at all,the technique is done for you,second you are not the one doing it,the camera is,can you imaging Henry Cartier Bresson,using an auto camera,or scaning his pictures digitally,for me art is done by you with a manual camera,and the printing done by traditional darkroom silver printing,too many pros out there but give them a manual camera,and ask them about the sunny sixteen rule and they atare at you.Show me an Ansel Adams,Lewis W Hines,Dorothea Lange,Margaret Burke White, etc etc in color and I will change my mind about the eternal BW.

Yuri Przhepjurko , May 25, 2006; 04:20 P.M.

I think the main target of street reportage is only life. My opinion - street is not constructed by trees,roads or buidings. Streets are live by people. Emotions, laugh, cry, talkings - attributes of people, who make the streets alive.

Pini Vollach , October 19, 2006; 06:57 P.M.

Street scen in Tel Aviv


Sting Ray , October 21, 2006; 09:14 P.M.

Earlier in this thread I noticed many thought Desaturating a colour image would be enough to make an "acceptable" B&W image. I thought this was the worst possible method as it allows absolutely NO control over the RGB information. Arguably there are several ways to do this properly. However I choose to use the channels mixer as you can very accurately adjust the tones in the RGB space and control the B&W tonal quality. Try it.. you'll see. Therefore if you have an image that is just shot for colour (as one put it here) you can get quite acceptable B&W images from it.

William Fong , November 20, 2006; 02:38 A.M.

If people have the right to NOT be photographed in a public place, does a person also have the right for a certain gender, race, etc. to not look at them? Do I have the right to say I do not want any men looking at me? "Excuse me, you are a guy, please do not look at me."

I am on the camp of candid shots. I believe that the people I took the photograph of should have never known I was there. I am by no means a pro, but I have taken my camera to public places, and taken a lot of pictures (because I'm not a pro, many didn't turn out the way I wanted, thus not posted anywhere). But never *knock on wood* has anyone came up to me and asked about the pictures. Most stare to see what I was doing. That's about it.

Ray Anthony , November 25, 2006; 07:23 P.M.

I have a question to ask as opposed to a comment and that is I recently launched a website of my work in hopes of making some coin off of it. I'm a black & white film photographer trying to fill a street photography portion of my page up and was wondering if I call sell any photographs with persons in said photographs without a model release?

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Duirmuid Jones , December 17, 2006; 07:02 A.M.

I have to say that I like the photo of the girl on the steeps. I like the fact that she is waring glasses, because look at the way she is holding her mouth. there is emotion in the photo. She seems, to me anyway, to be annoyed at something or someone. I don't think that you need to always see the person's eyes to know what they might be thinging.

Alex Surrey , January 01, 2007; 06:42 P.M.

nikon d70s and a 24mm f2.8

Alban Van Cleemput , March 17, 2007; 04:13 P.M.

I have recently discovered an interesting technique. I learned it from one of the more famous photographers here in Belgium. If you are using a digital camera you can make as many 'hip shots' as you want from close range in streets. Afterwards you can look at the results and keep the ones your satisfied with. Not bringing your camera to eyelevel lets people unaware that you are actually photographing and also brings in an interesting viewing angle that delivers a strong image.

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Kieran Nottelling , March 26, 2007; 10:44 P.M.

I agree with Samuel on two counts - the use of flash was awful, and there really should have been B&W. For street photography, B&W owns any and all of you.

Jan Piller , April 05, 2007; 01:13 P.M.

I am curious about what Arthur Bruso says above about having a model release - Don't papparazzi take pictures of celebs all the time without model releases? Same with the Royal Family. Aren't they "street photos"? They don't sue when their pictures appear published everywhere.... I see street photos in newspapers all the time that show images of hundreds of people - I'm sure they didn't get model releases from all those swarms of people. Can somebody clarify for me? Or perhaps this is not the right forum? thank you.

Federico Ubalde , April 05, 2007; 11:16 P.M.

This is very enlightning, it motivates me to shoot more street photography than ever! thank you for your insight and for sharing with us.

Daniel Mejias , April 13, 2007; 02:20 P.M.

I found this article regarding model releases on the ASMP site, it has some useful information:


Scott P , April 20, 2007; 11:27 P.M.

Someone mentioned that a lot of people don't trust photographers. They don't trust what the photograph will be used for. David Beckerman follows a man for a few blocks (www.davebeckerman.com/Gallery-People/source/mouthwash.htm) waiting for him to spit something out of his mouth -- presumably the man doesn't know he's being followed, but lets think after hearing the shutter he knows. Would I (you) mind being that man? Probably not if you also knew it was David Beckerman and therefore believing the photograph would be used in an appropriate way. But what if it wasn't? What if it ended up being put about with demeaning captions or in a context that made you look like an total idiot. Analogous to a journalist reporting something about you in the newspaper that is totally wrong or out of context. People are right to be suspicious of use. I think the best comments in this thread have to do with showing respect, being serious about your craft, and actually *liking* humans.

Eric Wienke , June 03, 2007; 05:17 P.M.

What makes street photography different from other forms is that it relies more on moments. Fleeting moments in time, that will never happen just like this again, captured for eternity. That, for me, is the key difference to studio, landscape/architecture, or portrait photography. So the most important element of a good street shot is the interestingness of the moment. Good technique, equipment, composition all can help to make it more interesting, but there has to be something worth looking at in the first place.

There are too many mundane every day shots that people capture beautifully and put out there for everybody else to look at, calling it street photography. Maybe it is, but is it really interesting out of context? Out of every hundred shots I take, about 20 have acceptable focus, lighting and composition, and out of those 20, maybe two or three are actually interesting enough to stand on their own. Lee McLaughlin's "blind leading the blind", linked to on this page, is one of those shots that I think is fascinating. Most of the photos in the article aren't.

What makes a great shot? A great shot is one of those extremely rare moments when everything falls together and the photograph tells a story (without a crutch like title or annotation), AND the story is interesting and thought-provoking. Of course it helps if it's also technically perfect and well composed. If a moment doesn't awe you without the camera, then the best a camera can do is make it a bit more interesting to look at through various techniques, but it can't do anything about the moment itself. Now think about how often you run into moments in everyday life that make you go "wow". Even for the most astute observer there aren't that many.

The question about morality is completely out of place for street photography. The more interesting a person is, the more interesting the photo will be. It doesn't matter if the person in question is underpriviliged, because a good picture stands the test of time, and in 50 years when the person isn't even alive anymore and nobody has any idea who he was, it will still be interesting. That doesn't mean a picture of a bum lying on park bench is a good target - it's not a special moment because if you live in a big city there are millions of those moments. An old lady begging on a street corner by itself isn't terribly interesting, but if you happen to catch her arguing with a well dressed executive losing his composure you may have a powerful picture.

I'm thankful for street photography, because it taught me one of the most valuable lessons in life: whereever you are, at any time have your eyes wide open and soak in your surrounding, because special moments worth remembering are rare and they come and pass very quickly. It doesn't matter if I have my camera with me. I'm a much more conscious observer than I used to be, and it makes me appreciate just being alive.

Lincoln Westermann , June 09, 2007; 02:53 A.M.

I am very glad to have looked at this section under "learning." I am inspired and this helps me realize that nobody will hunt me down for taking a picture of them. Also I like the hip shot idea, and my camera has a flip screen so discretion is especially easy. Most of my discreet shots are on the bus and are kind of boring, but then I've only taken something like 3. Also once I was taking a picture of an ad on the bus and the person under it was smiling after I took the camera down and I realized she was smiling for the camera, I didn't take her picture though, but that shows that some people are open to having their picture taken. So, thank you all for your comments and I am now inspired to go downtown and shoot some street photos, and I'll remember to change my camera to B&W mode :). Again thanks for everything.

John Douglas , July 14, 2007; 12:22 P.M.

In response to the questions about street photography and model releases, the general rule in the US is that you can photograph anyone in a public place and either hang the photo in an exhibition or publish it in a manner that earns you money *** EXCEPT *** you cannot use it in a manner that explicitly or implicitly endorses any product. That caveat is a big one if you want to sell your photos because stock photos are usually used in ads by the purchaser.

Also, this is the general US rule, not the rule elsewhere. Particularly in Europe, as I understand it, countries often have laws giving individuals rights in their images, regardless of where the images are captured. Which raises a question about posting an image on the Internet that you have taken without a release, which winds up being viewed in, say, France. I've no clue what happens then, and it's possible that no one does.

Anyone have any light to shed?

Richard Nielsen , August 07, 2007; 07:29 P.M.

Christian Harberts wrote that:

"In France, Article 9 of the Civil Code expressely forbids taking pictures of persons in public places, without his or her prior written consent."

I'm sorry Christian you are wrong. Article 9 says nothing of the sort. In essence the law says that everyone have the right to privacy and in case of any infringement of this right the court may on behalf of the plaintiff ??.. You should also review article 14. I think that you will find the meaning of the law familiar. But in general European law tend to be more protective towards the establishment than the individual. As for the claim that you could be in trouble for publishing a picture of the Eiffel tower ???well realistically ??

You'll find the legislative text with a somewhat English translation at: http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/html/index.html And for your information the guillotine have been removed from Place de la Concorde ;-)

Andrew Prokos , August 21, 2007; 10:33 A.M.

I wouldn't be too concerned with shooting crowds of people or any group where the person/people are obviously not the main focus of the photo. you shoot a person on the street and they are the main subject of the photo, and then you sell the photo for advertising purposes you can get into hot water. The same holds true for private property. If it's just being sold as art then there is no need for any kind of release. It has gotten to the point of the ridiculous though here in NYC, with many owners of landmark properties trying to extract every last cent out of photographers. The Supreme Court has basically settled the matter with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame vs. Gentile though. After Gentile the property owners stopped trying to sue everyone who took a picture which included their bogus 'trademarked' building. Still, even the possibility of legal problems will cause an ad agency to kill a project outright. -

Firass Al Jundi , September 17, 2007; 12:42 P.M.

I found this article very disappointing. It doesn't say a thing about street photography, and it gives very poor examples.

Street photography started in one way or another in the 1880's or so, by Eugene Atget. He went about documenting Parisian cities and streets, and occasionally he would add the aware bystander who would just pose very still for the picture.

Later on in the 20th century, Subjektif (Dutch origin) photography started on the rise. This style of photography is an upfront and in-your-face, where the photographer would not be afraid to approach the subject, but he would always try to stay anonymous, so as to catch the subject unaware in his natural environment.

Cartier-Bresson helped develop and popularize this genre of photography, with his "decisive moment", but it wasn't until the publication of Robert Frank's The Americans in '58 that street photography took off. That one piece of work intrigued many an artist, including Diane Arbus, Garry Winnograd, Joel Mayerwitz, and Lee Friedlander, among others.

Cartier-Bresson was one of its more well-known ambassadors.

Street photography went on to become a social commentary tool. A lot of photographers would use this to capture what they thought and their critique of the environment around them. Friedlander would always capture humourous, witty events. Mayerwitz always worked with what he called "content without context". Arbus always worked with what she thought was a "dystopia".

Unlike journalism, street photography is YOUR take on YOUR surroundings, as opposed to photos for a specific subject (the news article). Sebastio Salgado would go on to use street photography for his work on the goldminers of Brazil.

Street photography popularized the use of range-finders, those magical cameras perfected by Leica. The advantage of these, is that they were small (compared to what was available at that time. Don't forget, before that people used to work with medium format and 4x6 film, as well as SpeedGraphics and TLRs). These master photographers were human light metres, and would be able to judge just by looking at the subject what the exposure was, and how far they are, helping them pre-focus their lens for the shot.

As for the comments on here, if you want to be a purist street photographer, then go buy a range-finder, shoot in black and white, and don't use a light metre.

THAT is the true definition of photography. And it gives such an incredible feeling of satisfaction.

For a whole year I did street photography using zoom lenses. And I wasn't satisfied with my work. My instructor said the same thing. When you use a zoom lens, you are too far away from the subject, and you just capture a snapshot. Even if you isolate them in the photo, it is still a snapshot, as you only capture them in ISOLATION. Most street photographs are of a person in their surroundings in a dynamic situation.

Here is a piece on Street photography, called "Street Photography for the Purist", written by event photographer Christ Weeks on his deviantART page.


See, the issue is that people go out and start taking photos, and call themself photographers. I find that very insulting. Its not just the push of a button.

We are not papparazzi and we should not intrude on peoples lives, but that doesn't mean we can't take pictures of them. If they don't agree, nod apologetically, say you're sorry, and run off. Or act like a tourist and pretend not to understand what you are being told. =P

Street photography is something anyone can do, but very few can become masters at. We shouldn't celebrate whenever a person takes a picture of something outdoors.

This reminds me of something else. Does it have to be outdoors? Can it be indoors?

Thats something for you to ponder.

Can someone tell me how I can attach images? I'd like to show some pictures done by Friedlander.

S Demetre , September 21, 2007; 02:23 P.M.

I have a question which is of great concern to me: so far in this exchange, we have been talking about a common environment (for the most part) for street photography - the streets of developed western cities - with their corresponding implications for the technique and parameters of the street photographer. What happens to these techniques and parameters, however, when the environment is radically different, such as the environment of a country emerging from conflict, or staggering from extreme poverty. How should techniques be adapted when, say, the person holding the camera becomes an object of instant attention/attraction because of the large, expensive DSLR he/she is holding? or when the photographer is walking in communities so hard hit by conflict, poverty and social dislocation that many of the people barely have clothes on their backs (E. Congo). I ask this question seriously.

Ben Ho , September 25, 2007; 04:03 P.M.

The more I read about Street Photography, the more I want to get into the thick of it. I makes me want to do two things, get a 17-40mm zoom and learn more about composition. The more examples of Street Photography I see, the more I realized that my flawed idea of composition was opening up to f/2.8 to isolate the subject and snapping away. I know that I'm going to take hundreds of lousy pictures before I have any that are remotely presentable, but it will be fun along the way!

John Oram , September 26, 2007; 11:54 A.M.

S.Demetre raises some pertinent questions and prompts others. Good street photography often hinges on the spontaneous and unobtrusive capture of the decisive moment and for me this can best be achieved without directly engaging the attention of the subject and makes effective use of the telephoto lense. Undoubtedly there may be particular difficulties in doing this in the context of third/fourth world communities for cultural reasons. However, even in contemporary western societies that are becoming increasingly self-conscious of the surveillance of communities by civil and political agencies and the deep anxieties surrounding child protection such forms photography is increasingly difficult, provocative and occasionally hazardous. Moreover, how do we avoid appearing to exploit the difficulties and suffering of others for the sake of the photographers "art"? One partial and not entirely satisfactory solution is the very small unobtrusive digital compact ? myself I use the smallest Leica C Lux. The downside is that such dissembling only makes the photographers behaviour even more prone to suspicion and is ethically ambiguous. Finally, it would be interesting to hear more specifics about what are seen as the "techniques and parameters" of street photography..

John Oram , September 26, 2007; 11:55 A.M.

S.Demetre raises some pertinent questions and prompts others. Good street photography often hinges on the spontaneous and unobtrusive capture of the decisive moment and for me this can best be achieved without directly engaging the attention of the subject and makes effective use of the telephoto lense. Undoubtedly there may be particular difficulties in doing this in the context of third/fourth world communities for cultural reasons. However, even in contemporary western societies that are becoming increasingly self-conscious of the surveillance of communities by civil and political agencies and the deep anxieties surrounding child protection such forms photography is increasingly difficult, provocative and occasionally hazardous. Moreover, how do we avoid appearing to exploit the difficulties and suffering of others for the sake of the photographers "art"? One partial and not entirely satisfactory solution is the very small unobtrusive digital compact- myself I use the smallest Leica C Lux. The downside is that such dissembling only makes the photographers behaviour even more prone to suspicion and is ethically ambiguous. Finally, it would be interesting to hear more specifics about what are seen as the "techniques and parameters" of street photography..

Roy Caratozzolo , October 03, 2007; 11:29 A.M.

a street photo with no people and no street

I have heard many things that people feel relates to "pure" street photography... Their images all look the same and like everyone else's. the best street photographers don't have rules and use all of their tools... indoors, outdoors, people, animals, objects--all are fair game.

Also, do less reading and more picture looking:


Firass Al Jundi , October 08, 2007; 06:56 A.M.

To me, the technical aspect is to have a fast prime. A wide or a standard. No zoom, no telephoto.

The rest is all guts and eyes.

Some photographers to look at:

Garry Winnograd Lee Friedlander Diane Arbus Joel Mayerwitz Danny Lyons Robert Frank

Look at each and every picture till you devour everything in it, then go out and try to develope your own style.

Lee McLaughlin , November 17, 2007; 11:49 A.M.

I have loved street photography with great zeal most of my life, but stopped shooting in 1990. However, When I found Philip Greenspun's work - and photo.net -a few years ago I was again inspired to continue with my photo efforts on the street. The work here and the diversity of talent and input has been an amazing boost for me. I believe that the spontaneity and surprise of street photography is the most exciting. Akin to wild-life shooting. One needs cunning, and a ready, well tuned skill-set to achieve the best captures. Street photography is challenging both creatively and technically. Meeting this challenge keeps me growing. This is a motivation and muse for me. I am just beginning to feel as though I can capture something great at this point. (When opportunity meets preparedness) But, I also know I must keep my brain nimble, and my gear ready as I roam the streets. A heartfelt thank you to Phillip and the others on photo.net for these years of encouragement and support. I could go on, but the streets are calling to me and I have a new 70-200 f2.8 IS Canon lens to aim at the parade of possibilities here in San Francisco today. Happy hunting to all.

Samuel Fry , January 09, 2008; 12:46 P.M.

Ray Cerx writes, in his April 11th, 2002 post:

'It is my personal opinion that everyone (excluding people who knowing place themselves in the public eye) has the right to determine how and when their image is used. The justification that an image is art or that the image could not have been captured in any other way should not be the justification for a photographer to use another person’s image. It is a matter of integrity and I feel that anyone who violates this rule affects the integrity of every photographer.'

I just wanted to point out that each and every one of us walks into the public eye 'knowingly' or not, the very moment we leave our front doors. It makes no difference whether you choose it or not. It's part of the world we live in. I have no moral problem with photographing people without their knowledge. There isn't a moral question to be answered here. It isn't a question of ownership. I do not think I 'own' my image. My image can be done with whatever it is done with. It is a photograph after all. Every time I go outside I am being photographed without my knowledge by all kinds of survailance systems. I would rather be photographed without my knowledge by a photographer. If somebody catches me in the act and expresses that they are unhappy about it I will respect it and I won't photograph that person. But in the end it isn't a question of morals, and if it is a question of rights then the photographer has every right to go out there and capture the images he sees in the city.

That is all I wanted to say.

Mark O. , March 02, 2008; 10:40 P.M.

I would agree with some that the photos displayed here are not the greatest street photos I have ever seen, but no one should ever be put down for doing something different. I hate this mentality that one must always use a fast prime and Tri-X. Those are from the days when primes WERE better and color developing was out of reach for most people, including professionals. Many famous street photographers use Nikon and Canons not Leicas, with zooms to boot. For example, Dennis Stock is in the Magnum Stories book holding a silver Canon Rebel. David Alan Harvey frequently uses a D200 for his NatGeo work. The fact that many famous "street" images are shot on B&W using Leicas is merely a by-product of the times. I would hate some newcomer to photography to think that one day they will try some street photography, but first they will have to ditch the D50 (or Rebel, or point & shoot, or whatever) and 18-55mm lens they got from Mom for Xmas, not realizing that they have a far more flexible and somewhat more useable camera than many of the greats had.

Regarding people's "rights" to photograph strangers I am at peace with it. What I am photographing in a public place is really no one's business but my own, including the person(s) who may enter my viewfinder momentarily. This is one of the benefits of living in a "free" society. I can easily accept that one day I may be in someone else's Flickr page or photo album and it doesn't bother me in the least. Who cares?

john cowie , August 24, 2008; 11:50 P.M.

Boy do I love these criticisms. What does it matter what lens was used or if its b/w or color? The final image is what counts. Sounds like alot of wannabe photographers who read to much Modern Photography. [I know its out of print].

Angela Smith , August 31, 2008; 12:22 A.M.

I love street photography. Too many pictures loose there realism from over posing or editing. I love the point that's made in the article about often the view will see more then the photographer taking the shot.

Joan S. , October 07, 2008; 01:38 P.M.

Thanks for the article! Some useful tips there :)

Ant smith , November 17, 2008; 07:45 P.M.

Gosh, quite a robust response...haven't read all the comments as yet although they are certaionly spirited - anyway I agree with the 'get close, get closer' philosophy. Just now uploaded my quota of 5 images and they are all street shots taken with a 35mm lens - comments would be wonderful... see them here: http://photo.net/photos/AntSmith

james perry , November 20, 2008; 01:53 P.M.

If I took photos of people in public and wanted to use them on my website, can I. For example if I were to take of photo of people playing volleyball at a public beach and I used the photo as part of my travel sports site. How about if a couple were getting married at a public location and I noticed them and took a picture, then used the photo as part of my wedding website showing my artistic photography skills, would I be at any high risk of being sued? Just using the photos it to promote my services as a photographer and since the couple was there at a public park, could I have taken the photos?

Here is what I heard - Nobody's going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers to collect a few hundred in damages. If you use the image and they raise a stink and you don't stop using the image, they will have their lawyer send you a letter to cease and desist. That's required. If you don't desist, then they can try to sue. I guess if the person ever noticed themselves, all they could do is ask me to take it off and if I did take if off the website, nothing much more to be afraid of then, right? Also, The wedding dresses, tuxedos, rings, chairs, tables, tents... are all someone's intellectual property. Are wedding dress designers suing photographers who use images of their dresses on their website? How about the chair or table company? For that matter, architecture is intellectual property. If a photographer takes a photo of a couple and there is a building in the background, the owner of the building could also sue the photographer then right? The copyright office states : Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright. So therefore "unless there is an agreement to the contrary, every photographer has copyright and control of the image they take, even if someone already paid them." Right? I heard that in ADVERTISING - When people are recognizable in public domain photos, the photos cannot legally be used for commercial purposes. But I also heard that In the U.S., street photographs, taken of people and things visible on the street, in circumstances where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, can be published, displayed, and sold as "art" (as distinct from their use for advertising, promotion, or "commerce") without obtaining permission of the people photographed. In fact, a New York State Supreme Court judge recently made judgement on a case and said that the photographer's right to artistic expression trumped the subject's privacy rights. New York state right-to-privacy laws prohibit the unauthorized use of a person's likeness for commercial purposes, that is, for advertising or purposes of trade. But they do not apply if the likeness is considered art. I would be just using the photos of a bride and groom or people playing volleyball to show my artistic services as a photographer. What do you think? "If the law were to forbid artists to exhibit their photographs made in public places without the consent of all who might appear in those photographs, "then artistic expression in the field of photography would not be protected under the freedom of speech and freedom to perform art would suffer drastically" right? Most courts have consistently found "art" to be constitutionally protected free speech. If I show off my artistic ability is it alright? A profit motive in itself does not necessarily compel a conclusion that art has been used just for trade purposes. Can a photographer therefore be allowed to show one person's existance to another? It doesn't matter if it's a photo of a war, or whatever......it's a function (and personal freedom) of photograhers everywhere to show the world, the existance of the rest of the world, even on their website right?. Can it also be considered news worthy that people get married here at this place for example? I am showing off my art and telling the news of what is happening at this location (freedom of the press). The public areas of the United States.....anyhow.....are for everyone's use..........including photographers. Taking a picture of another person in a public does absolutely nothing to impede that other person of their rights. Stopping the photographer from taking those pictures, impedes their rights of expression....and again, using those pictures in an artistic pursuit, including selling photographs of art work from them, and putting them in a book form is an extension of that pursuit of happiness. Once the photographer takes the picture, it is their picture............not the subjects. People are photographed everyday on buses, at ATM's, at intersections walking into convenience stores, etc... In the book: Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images" by Bert Krages. The short answer is you can take anyone's photo in a public place where they are also in public view, and you can publish their photo in a book of street photography without their permission (or post it on your web site). How about all the artistic “street photographers out there”? I thought that I could take photos and show off my art work on the web. This is called the "pursuit of happiness"..doing something you enjoy doing, that doesn’t harm anybody else..and there is a rather famous document that says you have the right to pursue that in the USA. "As soon as the shutter clicks...." copyright belongs to the photographer. These photos would be exhibited on my website for my photo business as examples of my 'art'. Just think at any wedding, you would have to get a “model or other release” from the bride and groom, plus each family member or guardian, table makers, chair makers, flower arrangement company, wedding dress maker, church owner, silverware company, any owners of buildings in the background, etc... I could argue that a wedding or volleyball game is publishable in a newspaper as an event that took place. To quote Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would exchange freedom for security deserve neither'. So here it is again: If I were to take of photo of people playing volleyball at a public beach and I used the photo as part of my travel sports website site. How about if a couple were getting married at a public location and I noticed them and took a picture, then used the photo as part of my wedding website showing my artistic photography skills, would I be at any high risk?

Thanks Jenny email farminsarin8@hotmail.com

Nathan Rupert , November 22, 2008; 11:28 A.M.

Perry A: "for those who stick to photographing "safe" people, ( and for those knuckelheads who wonder what i mean by "safe", i mean your typically white middle class surburbanite)".

Would a black middle class suburbanite mug you and beat you up?

Bill Ferensen , December 03, 2008; 11:58 A.M.

"Garry Winogrand is famous for having exposed three rolls of Kodak TRI-X black and white film on the streets of New York City every day for his entire adult life."

Not true. Garry spent many years out West (Texas and Calif.). He could not possibly have been on the streets of New York every day of his adult life.

Stephen Asprey , December 07, 2008; 03:40 A.M.

Well I've read all this and I'm happy to shoot away with my Nikon FE2 and FM2n and 400asa B&W film. I can do all the things recommended and enjoy being a purist with my 50/1.8 and 35/2. I can get the same framing as the legends and yes, it does make you learn. Bresson set his 50mm to focus at 4 meters and his film speed at 125. Then all he had to do was adjust the aperture as the light or scene changed. He found that 4m for the 50 was ideal...close enough to be part of the image, but not so close as to intimidate. At 4m he got the full person in the picture. he also deliberate overexposed by a full stop...it could be corrected in the darkroom, but he also got some light from the shadows. I'm going to try it.

Shyamal Chatterji , January 20, 2009; 11:55 P.M.

I wanted to read articles on 'Street Photography' and thought photonet.com will be right place to start my learning process.

I read the parent article with interest.....though the photos are not great, I learnt one interesting point : it does point out how a photographer often misses an important 'item' in his/her capture.The 'comments' are varied in nature and a copied a couple of them for future reference.But, I expected riher material

All in all, I did not much insight about composition, analysis of great shots that survived.... not a great tutorial.

photo.net may consider re-starting a discussion on this subject, the grammar of 'Street Photography' and not not so much on the ethical/legal aspects .

pradeep gill , June 18, 2009; 05:08 A.M.

here is my pick.. catch someone who is lost in his/her own world of thoughts with a distinct cultural wear or with some distinct clothing... from a public meeting or from a group discussion... kismein kitna hai dum  twirling mustache dont' disturb me... this is just an example... more at same site as above

SENTHIL MANI , March 26, 2010; 11:20 A.M.

jus a sample pics... taken by me Triplet Lovely Buds

Julien Legrand , July 23, 2010; 07:30 A.M.

I juste wanna share with you the project I started last year :



Art Jurado , August 18, 2010; 10:27 P.M.

Let me preface this post with an observation.

I read all the posts and I chuckle with the psycho babble of what is street photography.

Street photography is simply how we humans interact within our urban or metropolis environment - nothing more and nothing less.

Do photographers have a preponderance to think otherwise?

Moritz Hämmerlein , October 15, 2010; 09:26 A.M.

Great Article!!! Here is a german street photography portfolio: http://www.moritzhaemmerlein.de



Ramosa Rammea , November 11, 2010; 12:23 P.M.

Yes, a let down. No B&W--and, worse, using a flash. For street photography? On top of that, lots of street photographers use lenses longer than 28s and 35s. (Heck, HCB's most used lens was a 50mm.)

Onnie Espeña , November 21, 2010; 02:54 A.M.

Street Photography! My idea it is where you capture stolen moments. To create a street photography it includes visionary mind that can create unique composition image.

Tristan Bass-Krueger , January 14, 2011; 05:38 A.M.

Just got my first camera and started street photography about a week ago. As far as B & W photography, I decided I'm not going to use it. It often looks better, and it does give an image that iconic street photography quality, but I see it--for myself at least-- as a bit of a cop out. It's somehow too incongruous with the 21st century (yes, I know they used to see in color back then too), and if I used it, it'd be too much of an attempt to recreate a distinctive look and feel. From what little I've done so far, color can make a photograph seem much less like a work of photography, but it can also make a photograph more like the world as I see it. But maybe I'll change my mind later on.

Also, I'm going to have to get used to angry people. Within the first few days, I had my camera grabbed and some guy yelling that he was going to call the police. You may think I must have done something wrong, but all I did was take a quick shot of a man and woman on a Parisian sidewalk (not like I was up in his face or anything). He didn't even seem like the angry type beforehand, so I was a little surprised.

A little more predictable, but still annoying, is that cops and officials in positions of authority don't like having their picture taken and think that it is within their right to tell you to erase said picture. I got yelled at by a guard outside the French Congress, who left his post and crossed the street (I must have been a full 40 ft away) to tell me that I should have asked his permission first (he was a human being too dammit!) and that I had to get rid of my picture immediately. He was actually a little abusive, I dare say. Also, a traffic cop and a military guard outside of Sacre Coeur posed the same problems. Ironically, they all think that the law is on their side. Since they represent the law to some extent, there's not much you can do about it. But I think it's different for me because I'm young and people just naturally assume that I'm up to no good.

Reading all the comments here is very informative. I hope to learn much from all of you as I get started! I must say, I'm not a fan of all the pictures in the original post. A lot of them just seem like snapshots taken in the street.

Andrew Prokos , February 21, 2011; 03:34 P.M.

Opera Watchers, Times Square NYC

Very informative coverage of street photography and the problems it entails. I've been shooting street photos in color and black and white in NYC for years now and digital has changed everything.  You can see my New York photography page for the photos.

Bettie Coetzee , May 29, 2011; 05:03 A.M.

I have found lots of interesting in the discussion above. And also find the initial article and the photographs illustrating the theme of Street Photography very helpful and to the point.

May I add this site I recently came across regarding the London Street Photography Festival. For the sake of Competition a few basic points regarding the "definition" of SP brings some clarity. Specially the point so many people make on the Photo.net disccusion above. As I understand it, one important aspect of SP is NOT the relationship of the photographer with his Subject, but the RELATIONSHIP between people and between people and objects and people and their environment and objects to objects (where people are absent) that is crucial. Along with the spontaneity, candidness, unposed but telltale other elements in the image.

The website that is inspiring, and not as aggressive and childishly derogatory to differing opinions, as some comments here on PN, is:



Jack Cutting , June 25, 2011; 10:45 A.M.

Street Photography

TUC Demonstration

Here is a shot that I took in London. www.jackcutting.com

Nick Turpin , November 27, 2011; 04:53 P.M.

Street Photograph, London.

Readers might be interested in my Street Photography writings at sevensevennine.com my Street Photography documentary film in-sight and maybe even my own Street Photography.


Nikolay Mirchev , January 24, 2012; 07:21 A.M.

I also do street photography at


and I need to say that big part of the photographs in my portfolio are in color, I also have B&w but not because of the "random colors everywhere" but because of the lighting set of the particular situation. I think is part of the street photographers job to make the arrangement and the colors of the City, I know is difficult but not impossible.   

Stephen Conkie , July 18, 2012; 02:02 P.M.

This is quite a representative discussion of street photography, which I believe is the most challenging genre from both a technical and philosophical perspective. The only place I have ever taken street shots is in China, where I currently live. This is a demanding environment at times. I have seen things that would have made highly emotional photographs, which I never would take. One which stands out is the sight of a desperately ill man on a stretcher in the middle of town surrounded by his weeping relatives begging for money for his operation with the actual hospital bill staked out on the pavement, getting totally ignored by everyone. To even consider framing that scene at my current level of ability would have been unthinkable. If I could have taken it from the hip in 2s, would that have made it alright? I really don't know. But I do know that walking round the Forbidden City on a Sunny Public Holiday is totally different from walking round a supermarket or poor backstreet of a rural town on a rainy Monday morning- many times more shooting opportunities but I get noticed in seconds as a Foreigner. I have found I have to be, not without conscience, but definitely without guilt and capture as quickly as possible. Smiling helps a lot- this is only possible as every shot which I feel is of an annoyed person or that takes away from someone's dignity is deleted. My uploaded shots are mostly of street work as I find this so rewarding.  

Alan Horsager , November 19, 2012; 06:47 P.M.

For the most part, I agree with this.  I do see street photography as trying to capture particular moments with people in public spaces throughout the world.  However, I see a focus towards ironic and insistence on being "straight" as an artificial limitation.  In my images (Alan Horsager | international street photography), I try to combine traditional street photography with expression and abstraction across international cities.  Street photography is more about the approach rather than a strict set of rules defined by location (e.g., street photographs can come from interiors such as train stations or the sidewalk in front of your house) or being straight.  Deviating from "straight" does not necessarily move it out of the category of street (IMHO).

Image Attachment: file3qCPj7.jpg

David Bebbington , March 15, 2013; 11:10 P.M.

Esthetically I must say I am horrified at the suggestion that shooting 3 36-exposure films every day (108 frames) is a good idea (irrespective of whether Winogrand did it or not). Photographers should learn to be far more self-critical and work harder at developing their instincts – working on the fire-hose principle is no substitute.

Not that it really matters, sine much of the advice in this article has been superseded by the use of digital cameras with good auto-exposure and autofocus, but it is really stupid to advocate zone focusing and then a paragraph or two later say that street photographers will find most of their shots ruined by poor focus! This is an author who has not re-read what he has written.

Finally, the whole idea of street photography has been overtaken by events – today there are very many people who, for whatever reason, definitely do not want to be photographed going about their daily business, not least because of the truly disgusting activities of the paparazzi – to the general public, every street photographer is a paparazzo.  Work on the street if you must, but be aware that you will annoy a lot of people, that you will have great difficulty getting your work published, and that your chances of becoming a “great” are zero.

Anne O'Connor , May 01, 2013; 07:53 P.M.

I am a novice who is drawn into the drama of b/w film street photography.  I admit that I'm concerned about the invasion of privacy of the subjects of the photographs, but I have to admit that calling the subjects "victims" is overly dramatic and self serving. If anything, street photography can serve as an historical documentation of american life; not for profit, not for financial gain. Mr. Bebbington's summation of all the back and forth sums it up: be ready for the confrontations with your subjects.  And with Mr. Bebbingtong's advice, this weekend, I will embark on my first excursion.

Andreas Engh , May 02, 2013; 03:29 A.M.

I'm a bit nervous as to how I'm supposed to take these street photos as a lot of people may not want to be photographed. I can't really run down a street and ask every subject either, and it takes the spontanity out of it.

Well, I could probably use the old western frase: "Shoot first, ask later"

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