When hitting the city streets for the first time, many newcomers to street photography feel a certain anxiety about photographing people on the streets.  There’s something they should know up front, that might help a bit. Anyone visible in a public space in the United States can be photographed with no consequence to the photographer.

That said, one must learn to gauge a stranger’s acceptance of being photographed and not step beyond acceptable social bounds. Remember, a smile and a brief positive comment goes a long way with any stranger you might like to photograph!  But first, take note of your subject’s socioeconomic state of being beforehand. You don’t want to be that person that invades another’s personal moment of great stress or crisis.

I always tell my students to seek uniquely odd moments on the streets. There are many occasions where you’ll find members of our human race of clear mind to be visually interesting. They might be engaged in some daily activity, or dressed and behaving in an odd fashion that stands out from the crowd.  These people are normally quite aware of their unique look and the attraction they might draw.

There’s nothing wrong with approaching anyone and engaging anyone for a photo, or you just taking a quick “fly by” impression with your photographic device. If you’re still not comfortable with the idea of photographing strangers, remember, all forms of street photography are great, be it environmental landscapes or architecture. Join us for our next street photography workshop in San Francisco.

All the best,

Mark Jansen