Learning lessons in street photography

Promenade Festival, Tramore
Train station, London

Pride Parade, Vienna
Two young Vikings, Waterford
Woman posing, Vienna
Familiar sight everywhere

More often to be found sneaking up on hares in the wild, I was recently asked how to take photographs of people in public places. This made me realise that I must have made some progress in what was once such a huge challenge. 

A few things have inhibited my street photography. There's my own shyness, the way certain people react so negatively to a camera, and the impulse not to interrupt the flow of some one's private life. Over the years I've learned how to capture relaxed scenes in public places but mostly of people's backs!

There is a distinction here between what I see as urban"portraits" like Humans of NY and "street" which I would define as casual and candid photography of the moment.....think Vivian Maier  Her street shots of a strangers tell a story in a particular way. It doesn't matter who it is or where, her images always captivate me.

While photographing a context, an event, a building, sometimes it's just a blessing when some one literally walks onto the set. Other times I am interested in a face, an expression, a pose. I like reflective and grounded people who are staring meditatively into the distance.......well they kind of remind me of hares and rabbits but that's another story!

Tending to draw more on the contemplative aspects of human nature, I have a particular soft spot for watching elders and their individual body language. There's also an ethical aspect to how I would want to portray some one and although I hugely admire documentary and human rights photographers I am reluctant to snap people in all their vulnerability.

In case like me you are slowly building up an interest in street photography her are three tips I've learned from my experiences over the years.

1. The best way to study other human beings is where everyone has their cameras out, festivals, parades, weddings, etc. People are so much more relaxed and everyone is at it....small camera phones are perfect for this.

2.  If I pick up unhappiness in people when a camera is produced and if I can't find a way for them to be more relaxed I just stop. 

3.  I am wary of photographing children unless I get specific permission. (Yes technically you are legally entitled to photograph anyone in a public place, but I think it's best to get a nod from the parents......) 

There are more photos here in the Street Gallery


  1. Oh, you are really very good! I love all these images and your wonderful shared advice.

    1. Thank you Susan......big learning curve, but it actually helps being an unobtrusive older woman!!

  2. Wonderful images and great advice - street photography is something that I am really interested in too, but like that I am not sure of the rules. I'm trying to find the courage to ask interesting-looking people if I can photograph them, just hoping that they will be flattered!

    1. Funny you should say that Candi, I have tried that too and it actually works pretty well..... with a charm offensive!!

  3. Beautiful images. I was just wondering about this the other day as I walked through my local city and tried to capture some of the people and atmosphere around me. It is very new to me and I certainly felt a shyness and uncertainty. I imagine you get a bit bolder and wiser with time. Three great tips, thanks

  4. Great post! As a lover of street photography one thing that I'll add...keep doing it! The more you do it, the more comfortable you get!