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  • Writer's pictureHumberto Segura

5 tips to get better at street photography?

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

If you want to improve your skills at street photography, you should follow these tips



Through the years that I´ve been doing street photography, I´ve learn quite a few lessons on this genre. Slowly but surely my skills have improved and I´ve been honored enough to be published on several magazines in Europe.



When I started, I got my hands on every photography book I could get my hands on, and believe me, that's the way to go.




It's not about what gear you have, or what trends you see on instagram. It's about learning and mastering the genre and being able to tell a story and create your own unique style.

Please, don't follow trends!!!!


Of course, like everything in life, photography also has a learning curve, but you can speed up the process if you follow the right advice and, of course, if you work hard!


So if you want to get better at street photography, there are some simple tips I can give you that will surely improve your skills.



Tip #1 - Don´t spray and pray!


Current camera technology, easy access to equipment and lower prices for photographic accessories, such as memory cards, have brought about a sort of "throwaway feeling" about photography.


If before with analog cameras you could only take 24 to 36 photos, today you can easily take more than 2000 photos, in RAW!!!. That's a huge amount of photos.


And, of course, there are some types of photography that can take advantage of this. I'm thinking sports photography, fast sequence events, the list goes on and on.


But for street photography, and especially when starting out, it can be a disadvantage.




If you want to improve your street photography I suggest you the following exercise:


Go out on the street and limit yourself to the number of photos you are going to take that day.

Imagine you have an analog camera in your hand and you can only take 36 photos, no more, no less.


That will help you treasure every shot, you'll be forced to think twice about whether what you're planning to photograph is worth that shot. Is it interesting enough, does it compete enough, why do I want to photograph it?


Those are the questions that will start to come up, and believe me, they will improve your skills significantly.




"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera" – Dorothea Lange

Tip #2 - Tell a story


We often see photos on social networks like instagram that are really amazing aesthetically speaking. Moreover, we often see instagram photographers showing how they retouch their photos and showing the steps to create "that look" as if it were a recipe.


And believe me, I believe that in photography there is room for everyone, so if you want to follow "that look", by all means, go ahead. But if you want to create something more unique, closer to how you see the streets, more you. Well, you have to find yourself and what you want to say.


Telling a story doesn't have to mean being able to tell an incredibly complex story in a single image. In fact, doing so is very rare and takes years of practice.

I'm still trying to get it and probably never will (tip number 3, never settle).


But a story can be as simple as a father and son talking, a shadow that looks like something else, a funny juxtaposition of elements, whatever you can think of! All you need is to train your eye, to be able to recognize situations even before they happen - and to do that you have to go out and practice, practice, practice!


Avoid the platitudes, we've all seen the person walking around in front of the camera with a beautiful composition and nice lighting.

It's nice, don't get me wrong, in fact I've done it several times. But if you want to be original, try to push the envelope.


Be original and be present, be in the moment!






Tip #3 - Never settle!


You've probably been doing this for a while and your friends and family have seen your photos. They like them and let you know how good you are.


We all need that encouragement and energy to keep going. At the end of the day, we need to show our work, that's the whole point of taking photos, that's the essence of this beautiful art form.


Having that feedback is awesome, but at the end of the day it's your family and friends, they probably won't feel comfortable letting you know the things they don't like. Or even if they don't entirely like your work, they're unlikely to say so.


Don't settle for good comments from your friends and family, go above and beyond, be your own worst critic (or best actually), try to improve every day. Look at the work of some of the masters of photography and study their work, see what strikes you about their work.


Try to approach other photographers and seek their opinion, their honest opinion.


The only way to improve is to never think that you have reached that level, that high place. Stay humble, keep learning and be grateful for sincere criticism.



Tip #4 - Learn how to retouch and shoot in raw format


Your job is not finished once you press the shutter!.


Up to this point you have put in your time, experience, observation and knowledge, which have led you to decide that it was then, at that moment, when you had to pull the trigger.

If you think about it, it's much more than just a click, it's much more.


But your work is not finished, now it's time to create just what you imagined when you were on the street taking that picture. You have to help convey your message, the mood you want to create, help the viewer to follow the path you want him to follow.


The retouching process is a world in itself, and is a beautiful complement to the whole process, and is - at least for me - as enjoyable as being out on the street photographing.


Spend some time learning how to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, or any other retouching software. It's worth it and will make you a much better photographer.


And never forget, shoot in RAW to get all the information out of your photo. That way, in post-processing, you can have more range in the parameters you change, such as exposure, highlights, shadows, colors, etc.






Tip #5 - Invest in yourself


Keep learning, read all the books you can about photography, whether it's technical stuff like composition, color, black and white or use of light. Or if it's more about the philosophy of photography, read it all!!!!!

Learn from the greats, Cartier-Bresson, McCurry, Sergio Larrain, Titarenko, ...the list is endless.


Study their work, get to know their philosophy towards photography, watch documentaries.



In the end, everything you have learned will show up in just a split second, when you press the shutter.



Conclusion


Photography, and in particular street photography, is an art form. And like any other art form, practice makes you better, the more you learn, the more you get out there and try to create, the better you will become.


Remember to always be true to yourself and follow what interests you, not trends, it's the only way to create your own unique style!



So good luck and get out there with your camera and shoot!



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