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For amateur photographers, street photography can be intimidating. You generally shoot candidly, and in public places, in an uncontrolled setting where anything can happen and the scene is never the same. It’s definitely not the easiest discipline!

But street photography is popular as it captures the texture of a city in a single photo. It’s personal and raw, and captures a city’s true soul. For instance, it is more than just taking a photo of cars passing through traffic. It is about waiting for the right second, as soon as the car passes by with its windows rolled down and you can see the kids inside the car bored from traffic.

And even though this is the most practiced kind of photography, many beginner photographers have a fear of shooting in the street. So if you’re looking to overcome your fear of street photography, or improve your craft, here are some helpful tips to guide you.

Simple Street Photography Tips for Beginners

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Have an Objective When Taking Portraits

Street portraits are fun to shoot because it allows you to approach and talk to your subject. But try and have an objective in mind to start off. For instance, will you only take pictures of peoples eyes? Maybe people who have a weird sense of style but they carry it in a cool way. Keep this objective in mind and be on the lookout for people who fall under it.

For instance in Malaysia you can choose lots of subjects, from businessmen to hawker stall sellers. You can even choose fashion subjects because everyone knows the Asia has the most unique fashion sense, right? You won’t run out of people to take photos of, it is only a matter of narrowing down who you will be taking photos of for the day.

Use a Wide Angle Prime Lens

Photos taken with longer focal lengths are awesome, it allows you to take shots that are up close and, well, personal. But people who do this often are missing out on capturing different framings and perspectives.

For instance, in a city like Kuala Lumpur, where traffic is ever-changing, would you not want to capture the commute experience by taking a photo of not just the cars, but a section of the street as well, with the buildings and the people walking by the pavement?

RF Street photography camera

Ask People to Come to You

If you’re tired of walking around the city, you can set up post and ask people to model for you or take photos of people candidly. This will only work if you have a certain subject in mind.

For instance, you want to take photos of the different people hanging out in the KLCC Park and the things they do to pass the time. These photos will tell a story about what Malaysians do on a work day in the park, how they kill time, and what not.

These are just some of the street photography tips amateurs can take note of during their stint. Just remember, if you have snapped a photo before telling someone so that the moment is candid, make sure to show it to them and ask permission if you want to post it online.

CAMERA GEAR WE USE & RECOMMEND. CLICK PHOTO ↓

Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12MP Digital Camera

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

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    26 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting post! Yes, it’s definitely important to get people’s permission if you want to publish a photo of them. And if I might add: if you want to sell your photos or publish them on a blog or website from which you also make money, then remember that you might need to clear some rights if your photos include a “famous” building.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Mei and Kerstin :) Yes, permission when taking photos of other people is so important. Thanks for the tip on gaining commercial rights for famous buildings – I haven’t run into that before!

  2. Meg, I just got a wide angle Prime lens. So now, I am excited to practice with it.

  3. A great article and I am excited to use the advice the next time I am documenting my travels. Thanks.

    • Thanks Natasha, glad we could help :)

  4. I have been debating if I should get a Wide Angle Prime Lens, you just confirmed it. Guess I need to do some research on this

    • Glad we could help! Let us know if you have any questions :)

  5. I’m still learning to take photos and there are great tips in your article! I’ll keep them in mind when I’m next photographing a city. Thanks! :)

    • Glad we could help Katherine :) Happy travels!

  6. That si probably the one thing I havent got for my camera (as I am slowly upgrading my camera and buying new bits and bobs for it) is a wide angle lens. If I can get this, hopefully my photos will come out even better :)

    • Definitely a great investment if you love shooting in the street :)

  7. Thank you for the great tips! Doing Street photography is a great way to explore the city. I use to setup Photography routes when I’m traveling and even sometimes inviting people from the travel or Instagram community to join me.

    • Awesome Gloria – street photography tours are a great way to explore a city at the same time :)

  8. We have this category in the Photo Show we have at our Resort every winter in Phoenix. I have not won it. Thanks for the tips.

  9. Great tips here. Its so fascinating that once you start getting deeper into photography, you realize what all you were doing wrong to begin with. Wide angle lens on the agenda next..

    • A learning curve as you learn a new skill as with anything :) Enjoy playing around with your new wide angle lens!

  10. Great tips here, when im doing street photography its to hard to capture people cadidly, but i do love taking building etc

    • Thanks Anneklien! Definitely focus on what you’re passionate about, if you enjoy shooting buildings over people for instance. I find that passion shines through in people’s photography and that’s often what makes something outstanding :)

  11. Thanks for this great post. The Wide Angle Prime Lens is on my next shopping list.

    • Glad we could help Sonali – happy travels!

  12. I have a friend who does street photography, he also uses Wide Angle Prime Lens, one more thing he always does is he creates dramas and emotions from his images bcoz streets are full of dramas. That really works for him :)

    • Thanks for sharing your insight Anirudh – love the tip on looking for drama and emotion in the street – totally agree, it’s always there if you’re looking for it! Thanks for the tip :)

  13. Angles are a biggie. When I learned this, my photo game began to expand.

    • 100%! I had the same experience – often you don’t need to get fancy with settings if you know how to angle something uniquely :)

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