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102 Things I Have Learned About Street Photography

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  • 8/2/2019 102 Things I Have Learned About Street Photography


    102 Things I Have Learned About Street


    by Eric Kim on February 27, 2012

    It now has been around 5 years that I have been shooting street photography- and I have

    learned an incredible amount through trial and failure. I made this recent list of things I

    have learned while shooting street photography and some of my personal opinions.

    Remember, take everything in this list with a grain of salt! I simply made this list as

    both a way for me to self-reflect, and hopefully you can find some of these tips helpful.

    You can also see my old posts, 101 Things I Have Learned About Street Photography

    and 100 Things I Have Learned About Street Photography. As you can see, many of

    my opinions have changed over the course of 2 years. Keep reading- I hope you enjoy!
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    1. A photograph is like a sentence. Aim to write a book.

    2. Always smile and say thank you when shooting on the streets

    3. Shoot with your heart, not with your eyes

    4. Shooting with friends will make you feel much more comfortable on the streets

    5. The most versatile focal length is 35mm

    6. Dont rely on autofocus use zone focusing

    7. Have a drink to loosen yourself up before shooting on the streets

    8. Have at least 3 backups of all your photographs (hard drives all eventually fail)

    9. If you shoot film, keep your images organized

    10. The best critique is never onlinealways in-person

    11. Dont ask people what they like about your photographs, ask them what they dont


    12. Having one camera and lens is bliss13.Buy books, not gear
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    14. Style isnt something aesthetic

    15. Shoot who you are Bruce Gilden

    16. Harness the power of groups/collectives to spread your photography

    17. Dont focus on aesthetics in your photosbut rather the message

    18. Shooting film is magical

    19. Never upload your photographs immediatelylet them marinate for at least a week

    before sharing them

    20. Good projects often take at least a year to complete

    21. Post-processing your images digitally should never take more than a minute

    22. Printing your photographs out large is immensely satisfying

    23. Share your knowledge & technique with others never hoard it yourself

    24. It is better to shoot everyday for 10 minutes than to shoot once a week for 10 hours

    25. Only show your best work
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    26. Photo-sets with over 25 images are exhausting to look through

    27. It is great to constantly experiment with your technique and gearbut once you

    find something that works reasonably well stop and stick with it

    28. When in doubt, ask for permission

    29. People love to be complimented while on the streets

    30. Dont take photos of people who look pissed off or walk extremely quickly. These

    are the people who often get upset when you take their photograph

    31. If shooting digital, always shoot in RAW

    32. Look at other forms of art for inspiration

    33. Take photos of peoples faces, not their backs

    34. Eyes are the windows to the soul. Get photos with eye-contact in your images.

    35. Your photos are only as good as the photos you look at. Avoid the internet and look

    at photo-books for inspiration36. Giving helpful critique to others will make you a better judge of your own work

    37. If your photos arent good enough, youre not close enough Robert Capa
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    38. After a whole day of shooting, I am lucky if I get 1-2 good photographs

    39. The more time you spend on online forums, the less you will shoot

    40. Dont think too much while taking photographs. Avoid paralysis by analysis

    41. Dont chimp while shooting on the streets (checking your LCD screen). You will

    lose many decisive moments42. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity Seneca

    43. You can get luckier in street photography by spending more time out shooting in the


    44. Dont crop. Get it right in-camera

    45. Look for the light

    46. You will take the best photographs in the least-likely places

    47. Always carry your camera with you everywhere you go. Everywhere

    48. The smaller your camera is the less intimidating you will look

    49. Dont shoot from the hip if you have a camera with a viewfinder. Use the

    viewfinderthats why its there
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    50. Good composition alone doesnt make a good photograph. A great photograph

    needs soul.

    51. Dont let inspiration be your main source of motivation for shooting. Go out and

    shoot even when you dont feel like itand the streets will re-inspire you

    52. Street photography doesnt have to have people in it

    53. Creepiness is proportional to focal length. Dont shoot street photography with a

    telephoto/zoom lens

    54. The best place to shoot street photography is your own backyard

    55. Crouch often when shooting to get at least eye-level (or lower) to get a natural (or

    unusual perspective)

    56. The lighter your camera bag, the more you will enjoy shooting

    57. Dont forget to look down and up when shooting58. When in doubt, click

    59. Dont try to just take photos of interesting people, but try to take photos of

    interesting gestures

    60. It is better to take an extraordinary photo of something ordinary, rather than taking

    an ordinary photo of something extraordinary

    61. The way people react to street photography (all around the world) is often more

    similar than dissimilar
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    62. There is no perfect camera for street photography. Every camera has its own


    63. Learn to memorize a focal length so you can frame your shots before even bringing

    up your camera to your eye

    64. The best combo: one camera and one lens

    65. Focus on hands they communicate strong messages to the viewer

    66. Contrary to popular belief, most people dont get pissed off when you take photos

    of them (most people actually quite like it)

    67. Street photographs are well-balanced with an odd-number of subjects (1 person, 3

    people, 5 people, etc)

    68. Realize that most of your photographs are crap Charlie Kirk

    69. Shoot to please yourself, not others

    70. The best response to internet trolls who criticize your work (without helpfulcritique) is to ignore them completely

    71. If you have the opportunity, dont just settle for one photograph. Take multiple

    photographs if possible. Killers shoot twice Thomas Leuthard

    72. If you dont ask for critiques, nobody will ever give it to you

    73. If you are going to ask someone for permission for a photograph, always preface

    your question with, I know this may sound weird, but. Works like a charm.

    74. If you dont make time to go out and shoot, you will never go out and shoot.

    75. Learn to judge distances well- so you can prefocus before you anticipate the shot

    (1.2 meters is roughly two arms-lengths, and 3 meters is roughly half the distance of a

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    76. Spend less time arguing over the definition of street photography, and go out and

    shoot more

    77. You only remember 5-10 photographs from some of the most famous street

    photographers who have ever lived. Aim to take 5-10 great photographs before you die.

    78. Photography is incredibly difficult

    79. If people notice you taking a photograph of you, tell them, Ignore mepretend

    like you dont see me and most people will laugh it off and continue doing what they

    were doing

    80. If confronted by a person on why you took their photograph, take a step toward

    them and be open and honest about your intentions. Stand your ground and know your


    81. Simplify your photographs. Less is more.

    82. Dont put watermarks on your photographs. It cheapens your work.

    83. Street photographs dont sell84. Travel as often as you can to open up your views to the rest of the world and society

    85. Always carry an extra memory card and battery (in war two is one and one is none)
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    86. Dont always hunt for shotsif you are patient enough, they will come to you

    87. Shoot at ISO 1600 or above (keep your shutter above 250ths/second)

    88. f/8 and be there

    89. Black cameras draw less attention to you

    90. It is more interesting to take photos of rich people than poor people

    91. Never delete any of your photographs (you can rediscover hidden gems later in the


    92.Silver Efex Pro 2 is the best black and white conversion software for digital

    93. You miss 100% of the shots you dont take Wayne Gretsky

    94. Dont aim to take pretty photographs, aim to take meaningful photographs

    95. Dont be sneaky when shootingyou will get in twice as much trouble if you get


    96. A great street photograph both has strong composition and story

    97. When it comes down to it, composition isnt as important as the story

    98. 99.9% of the photographs online are crap

    99. Love your critics

    100.Offer to email your subjects their photographs (they love it)

    101.Break the rules

    102.Make your own list