Critique the Community

Street Photography

Submit your best street photo for a chance to win a free Fstoppers tutorial."
  • Submission Deadline: Wed, 19 Dec 18 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results

Have you shot any street photography? We invite you to join the next episode of Critique the Community and submit two of your best street photography shots for feedback and the chance to win one of two Fstoppers tutorials.Although Lee and Patrick don't have much experience with street photography, they do have an eye for quality photos. If you'd like to receive the feedback of Lee and Patrick and your peers here in the Fstoppers community, simply upload up to two of your best street photos before December 18th, 2018 at 11:45 PM EST. We will select a total of 20 images to provide feedback to. The image with the highest average community rating will receive a free tutorial as will a randomly selected entrant. 

Once you've uploaded your images, we invite you scroll through the photos submitted by other members and give them ratings and helpful feedback. The easiest way to do this is by using the arrow pad and number keys on your keyboard. Please keep comments helpful and encouraging. 

  • Submission Deadline: Wed, 19 Dec 18 04:45:00 +0000

    This contest has ended.

  • Voting is closed.

  • 673 people have cast a total of 52,748 votes on 783 submissions from 473 contestants.
  • Congratulations to the winners!

    View Results


There is something insanely raw and fun about street photography and though it is hard to want to submit to the critical review of this community, thank you to everyone who puts forward your best shots to be savagely critiqued. I promise to offer a thought on each one before casting a vote. Good luck to all of you.

It's a bunch of jealous people who think their crap doesn't stink. It's sad really.

True, but you also have a lot of very average material... What makes street photography great is also the reason for which we have so many average results, you just need a camera and a street to do it :) but look at many at the images posted, people standing in the street, grabbing a phone, walking by.... where are the stories? Composition? Light and shadows? Situations? All important ingredients for a good picture, many look like the camera just fired.

I think that’s the great part about street photography. It forces the viewer to think about the photo complexly, beyond “what were the settings?” or “epic! Where was this shot?”

That’s why I think some of the ratings are all over the place. Things get super complicated when “story” is involved since that can be super subjective. The highest rated photo I’ve found is around a 3.3, but I honestly don’t know why it’s rated so highly. It’s just a black and white image of a guy walking in the rain, not a complicated composition, or interesting use of light, even the subject is slightly blurry. I come from a super rainy city, so there doesn’t appear to be any interesting story going on for me, so I have no idea why some people are rating it a 4. However, the fact that it has been rated so high has caused me to spend more time trying to figure out what makes it “excellent”. Any competition that makes me think more complexly about an image is a good one in my books!

You mind sharing the link to the image? I am curious now :)

I’ll send it to you in a private message. I don’t know if the photographer would appreciate having their work posted in the chat and discussed, haha.

True there was some average shots, but some really good ones that were rated "needs work".

That’s what’s happens when the competitors in the contest are also the ones rating the photos in the contest.

The contests always result in lower numbers. Just go though the past contests and you’ll find that even the top rated photos can’t get over 4 stars.

Many of these will look like snapshots to me, but i'd be willing to bet a lot have subtle meaning or juxtaposition to them that I'm not smart enough to see. lol. I'm gonna just refrain from voting.

The question becomes what is the essence of street photography vs a cliche snapshot that's black and white

Street photography is like a good haiku…a snippet of reality that reveals a universal truth. Sometimes this revelation happens through the juxtaposition of dissonant elements. Beautiful light and a solid composition doesn’t hurt.

I would say that a solid street shot has some story suggested by the image. There should also be evidence that there was some thought behind the image, such as consideration of good composition, exposures and shutter speed.

The technical elements should look as though they all support the mood or story that the scene represents. I work as an Admin at a site on facebook site called "Street Photography: Vivian Maier Inspired" and I see many great street shot and many bad ones. Inevitably the ones that resonate most strongly with people are those that suggest a story or create a empathy for the subject or scene. Bottom line is that a snap shot is usually empty of a strong mood. Its just a recording of a moment.

Totally agree. The photo should beg you to ask "and now for the rest of the story?"!

Would tend to agree, however this isn't particularly surprising. Street photography is very easy to do, but incredible hard to do well. To be successful in street photography a true understanding of classical photography techniques in generally needed to help focus on what is important. This knowledge isn't really present here.

Your arrogance is quite simply staggering. I would posit that many of those providing ratings are making little or no effort to actually study the photo and hence are hard to take seriously. It's clear that both of my photo's are carefully composed - both have had people rate them as snapshots. Also, I suggest that you look at Robert Frank - he paid little heed to "classical photography techniques" in his seminal work The Americans and yet it is one of the most revered works of photography of the twentieth century. Street photography has little or nothing to do with the technical. If you go down that road, it will lead to photo's that look the same and ultimately will drive you towards mediocrity.

Sorry, my criticism was not aimed at you specifically, just a general remark for the majority of the submitted content. I am quite fond of your two images, you caught the dog in a rather lovely moment. With the regards to the benefits of technical application, I’m fine with a healthy disagreement.

Apology accepted - and I'm genuinely sorry for being so defensive. The online environment can be hellish at times which makes me a bit like that (unfortunately). Everyone is entitled to their viewpoint and their own individual style. There is an awful lot of dross in street photography, so you do have a point. I'll be interested to see a) what the judges pick and b) what they make of them. If there is one genre where individual style comes into it's own, it's street photography and to be honest, it's so personal that I do kind of wonder if it's sort of beyond critique. There's really no right or wrong, just the opinion of the viewer. Have you submitted stuff to any of the other contests?

Why - are you jealous that some people can actually get on with others?

I've posted a couple of my shots. I posted a couple that I thought were among my best and they were rated "snapshot". I decided to upload a couple that were more carefully composed. One is still rated snapshot, the other is doing a little better. Is there a trend in people's rating "attitudes", i.e. are they usually unfair in the rating they give?

I'm not thrilled with having a shot I took be rated as "snapshot" when I know I put more thought into it than a "snapshot". The two I submitted for instance where not simply "snapshots. In the one with the woman standing by the pole as the man in front is waiting was getting in the right location to capture their expressions and under hard lighting conditions. The sun was fading quickly that day. For the second one with the pianist on Venice beach, I have two and went with this one because I could "feel" more of his passion where the other featured better local context. I'm ok with not being rated unfairly and still being told, "more to do" but yes, "snapshot" is not where your picture should be ranked for street photography. I'd clearly say it qualifies as "solid" or better.
I wanted to post the second shot I have of her, but I felt it was a hair too blurry in the right places.
With this one, the hard part was getting lighting in the foreground while having the glaring setting sun behind him. Thankfully, Lightroom helps balance those out with a little effort. I hate over processing any photo.

The total context is the one I prefer:

The last image is the strongest of the three. There’s a beautiful play of light/shadow and it tells the most compelling story.

Thank you for the feedback Styron. I agree. It’s sometimes hard to be objective on our own cocreations, but for me the selection process of going through thousands of pics ends in me selecting the ones that have dramatic play with lights and shadows. Inappropriate your thoughts.
There are many fun shots in this contest and some genuinely talented people submitting their work.

I agree with Styron that the third image is the strongest, although I also kind of like the first one, as I see that you've gone for a "layered" approach which is certainly not a snapshot and can be very difficult to do. The difficulty is to get a well composed shot AND something with some oomf in terms of emotional impact.....not to mention with good light. Seldom do the three coincide but again I think the 3rd image has a good dollop of all three.

Thank you Andrew. Too bad we can only submit two! lol

I listened to someone here who said they liked the closer pic of the piano vs my instinct that the distant shot was stronger and gave the context of being on Venice beach.

I hope to see more of your pics. Don't hesitate to post them.

With citing Robert Capa "If Your Pictures Aren't Good Enough, You're Not Close Enough." I would want to give you a totally different advice. I would have liked the second one best if I could see the players face, his attention to the music. This and his hands playing the piano in front of the palms could have been (in my opinion) an interesting photo. At the moment it's sadly just a scene on the beach

Tobias, I appreciate that feedback. I do have other pics of this player. I had to pick one of the stronger ones and frankly I'd have submitted the distant shot if I did it over again. I do have some that are closer even.

Certainly will Chris. It would be good to keep in touch as you seem like a like minded kind of guy (or girl?) that provides honest feedback.

My biggest issue is that the lowest rating is called a “snapshot.” Just because you don’t like or understand something doesn’t mean it’s a snapshot. The term “snapshot” insinuates that no effort was put into creating the image. Being in the right place at the right time with your camera ready, your senses anticipating good light and an interesting moment is a skill. The “snapshotty” energy of candid moments can amplify the subject matter. Maybe one star should be “needs work.” That’s how feel about all the images I’ve given one star.

The rating system here has a pretty tough curve. 1 star is average, 2 stars is decent, 3 stars is good…4 and 5 stars are very rare. Plus, street photography can be polarizing.

Thanks Styron. My street shots are kind of "snapshotty" in style. I'll see what happens and try not to take anything to heart.

My biggest issue is that the lowest rating is called a “snapshot.” Just because you don’t like or understand something doesn’t mean it’s a snapshot. The term “snapshot” insinuates that no effort was put into creating the image. Being in the right place at the right time with your camera ready, your senses anticipating good light and an interesting moment is a skill. The “snapshotty” energy of candid moments can amplify the subject matter. Maybe one star should be “needs work.” That’s how feel about all the images I’ve given one star.

I absolutely agree Styron. A snapshot as I would define it is an image that has no thought given to lighting, composition or subject matter. Something that basically looks like a hot mess. I like to think my street shots don't fall under this category. I've also got a feeling that Patrick and Lee are going to look at this from their usual "would you show this to a potential client" perspective, completely missing the point of street photography altogether but I'll wait and see.

I've been serious about this stuff for about 5 years or so. One thing I learned early on, if anyone wishes to post their work online, you really need a thick skin. I admit that when I first started posting shots that I would get my hackles up when I got a negative comment.

However, a good critique will teach, so that's how I take it. I do a bit of tone mapped stuff and get beat about the head and shoulders a lot, but in the same breath, those prints are some of my better sellers. And that's what taught me to not worry about whether or no a shot I post here or anywhere else doesn't get a top rating. ;-)

Thanks for the encouraging words David. My general stance is that since I'm not intending to sell these commercially, the main criteria for success is whether I personally achieved what I wanted from the given shot. I know what I like and whilst others feedback is useful, I know what my style is and it is unlikely to change works for me. The upshot of all this is that I immensely enjoy it.

I'm new here, but I do find the ratings pretty rough.
2 stars for the photos I submitted kill me.

Anyway. if you can't swallow criticism, don't submit... I guess.

meh....I've kind of accepted that the ratings aren't much of a guide. Comments are very much appreciated though.

I get the rating system from Stoppers. It is very elaborate.
Usually, I see a "in or out" type of deal.

Comments are most helpful indeed

If you’re looking for actual feedback, the “Groups” section is much better. The contests have never been know as a great way to receive honest feedback.

Got it thanks
Also, I guess some style of photos are better suited for fstoppers? If I was shooting real estate of wedding, would it be more appropriate than street photography?

Based on the community page, they seem to favor portraits, "epic" landscapes, and product photography.
However, there seems to be a group for just about any style, though some groups may be more active than others.

It makes sense. Fstoppers helps pro photographers, rather than artists
Thanks for your help.

Well, I wouldn't say they are mutually exclusive, but yeah, a lot of "pros" or people trying to become "pro" come here.
What I meant is the people who frequent the "community" section, and the editors tend to have specific preferences that may affect their rating.
So for example, they may see an amazing landscape or portrait and rate it a 4. However, they may see an amazing flower photo and instinctively think "cliche!" and give it a 1 or 2, even though it's worth of a 4. Now this isn't everyone, of course, I'd be foolish to over-generalize everyone on the site, but I do feel some subjects or photography styles get significantly less respect here. If you think I'm joking, go to the "top rating" section and see how long you have to scroll before you see a single flower or street photography photo. My bet is your scrolling finger falls off first, haha.

Now, this isn't to say their opinions are wrong, but I feel like many "pros" have preconceptions about what subjects are "cliche" and have a difficult time looking at those photos with any kind of nuance. However, I also suffer from this. I have a hard time seeing portraits as anything more than a 3 because I have no interest in that particular genre, so I refrain from rating them.

I took a look at groups, and find one about street photo :-)

It's always a struggle to do commercial work with a medium, like photography, which is also about art in itself.

I also totally understand where pros come from.
It's a different game, like you said.

The test of new photographers is to have the guts to do street photography...I find it best when people aren't posing... I hope to appear to not be there...

I like night shots better because you have to use flash (I use on camera to prevent attention) or bright areas with high ISO and wide apertures and slow shutter speeds...
Also, I began with photo-journalism which is always candid so street photography seemed like a natural step...

I think its clear a number of the entries are professional and others more amateur though I suspect are a labour of love in the eyes of the photographer. I think if some raters took a little more time over the rating they may not be so harsh. It may be an idea for any you believe to be worth only 1 or 2 stars that you state why you rated it so low?

That's been a longstanding concern with the contests. The contestants themselves are the ones voting for the photos they are competing against, so the ratings tend to be harsher, and many of them dishonest. It's best not to get too hung-up on the rating. Instead we should do our best to lead by example. Hopefully others will follow.

I believe outstanding photographs will get a proper rating, but come on there are tons of submissions that just aren't worth much.
The cliché of photographing homeless people and bland black and whites doesn't fly anymore and stories are essential for this type of photograph. For that reason I feel a lot of 1s are justified.

There is very little that is "essential" in street photography. Alex Webb's photo's don't have a narrative. Neither do a lot of Garry Winogrand's.....or Bruce Gilden's. The problem with every forum on the internet regarding photography is that everyone thinks they are correct. I long for the day when people can just take their camera, not listen to what anyone else says and take photo's that THEY love and derive meaning from. The alternative is same, same, same, same, same old stuff showing up again and again.

Then how do you define a 1 (Snapshot)? Or how would you even rate anything if everything is so subjective.
Honestly somebody has to be correct at some point to create a measuring standard, otherwise just post pictures for the sake of posting them, if you start getting into competitions like this one you'll have to agree with something along these lines.

I believe that the competitive nature of these contests create this nonstop complaining, it happens every time.

More comments

Contest Submissions

Click on the thumbnails below to comment and vote on each image.

Click here to learn about the Fstoppers rating system and what each star value means.