What You Can Learn From Three Influential Street Photographers

What You Can Learn From Three Influential Street Photographers

Street photography continues to be a growing area in the industry. More and more people enjoy it and are learning how hard it is to get it right. Here are some tips from distinguished professionals Eric Kim, Yanidel, and Martin Parr on how to improve your own street photography.

Street photography has largely been brought to the mainstream because of people like the ones listed here. These street photographers share their art with the rest of the world and it is their techniques and their passion that have transformed the genre into what it is today. I'll reveal a few of my favorite images from each of them and explain why I think they are great shots; Sometimes it's about breaking the conventional rules to get results.

Eric Kim

Eric Kim

Eric Kim With His Gear Out: © Mattias Leppäniemi / www.longtallswede.com

Eric Kim is a photographer that has a super informative blog about street photography and he has been writing about the subject for years. He also teaches workshops all around the world. Here is his website and YouTube channel to check out.

Sometimes You Can Ignore the Rule of Thirds:

Eric_Kim

What I love about this shot is the fact that he hasn't placed his subject on one of the thirds and the vibrancy of the colors combined with the pose makes the shot very interesting. 

Finding an Interesting Subject Is Just the Start:

Eric_Kim

Despite the obviously interesting subject, what makes this shot great is the fact that Kim has chosen to keep the background in focus to really highlight how bizarre this setting is. It definitely helps to tell the story. I love the lighting in this image and the warmth of the shot that gives you a sense of setting too. 

Find Different Perspectives:

Eric_Kim_Three_Men

The perfectly chosen angle here creates the effect of three men for the price of one. It is a very noisy image and the choice to grayscale it gives it a very vintage look, which adds further mood and adds more drama to the shadows that are cast onto the escalator. 

Yanidel

Yanidel

Yanidel Doing His Thing

Yanidel has traveled all around the world to do street photography, but is mostly known for his work in France. His blog is a great place to look if you want tips on what gear to use.

Move People:

Yanidel_Paris

I love how Yanidel has played around with movement in this shot as his main subject is mid-stride and is actually slightly over the mid-point of the frame. Similar to Kim's shot, by keeping the background in focus we also get more of a sense of this bustling Paris street. 

Reflections Can Work For You (Sometimes):

Yanidel_Sleeping_Man

Once again we have an interesting subject (and I dare say that whilst your eye is drawn to the sleeping man, the woman's eyes are almost perfectly in line with Fibonacci's golden ratio too). For me, the most effective part of this image is actually the reflection that glares back off of the window which gives a sense of the fact that these subjects are on display to the public. 

Eye Contact:

Yanidel_Women

Often street photography captures people who do not realize it. In this case, Yanidel has his subject staring down the lens for a powerful effect. The use of shallow depth of field and the subtle blurring of the first woman leads your eyes to this point and makes for a more dramatic and powerful shot.

Martin Parr

 

Martin Parr

Martin Parr

Martin Parr is a Magnum photographer and has his own unique photographic style. He is known for photographing seemingly dull things and enhancing them with vivid colours. He has managed to stay relevant even after switching to digital around the turn of the millenium.

Look For Crazy:

Martin_Parr_Binoculars

Sometimes you see an image that really makes you think. This, for me, is such an image. I have no idea why this man is looking through his binoculars at an airport, but it makes for a great, quirky shot. The subtle contrast between the blues in the lower half and the reds in the upper half is incredibly satisfying. 

Widen:

Martin_Parr_Beach

A lot of the most popular street photographs I have seen came out of a portrait lens (and 9 times out of 10 I would say this is a better lens for shooting people), but every now and again the wide-angle lens creates a shot that the portrait lens simply cannot. Here we see a story of families at the beach which could not have been told as perfectly through just one couple shot with an 80mm. The beautifully centered couple makes for a great focal point to the shot as well.

The Walls Can Talk:

Martin_Parr_Factory

Rundown buildings often make for incredible shots. There is an atmosphere that really translates into the photo here somehow that brings the shot to life and tells a story of people that is rarely focused on. 

Now that you have seen the pros, you should get out there and experiment with street photography too! Which is your favorite photograph from the selection and who is your favorite street photographer?

All images used with permission.

Log in or register to post comments

11 Comments

I agree completely. Eric Kim is completely overrated and his work is so uninspiring.

David Vaughn's picture

I think Eric's older stuff is good (the photos used in this article are older). I think my issue with Eric is that his blog is very...clickbaity. One day he'll be saying "Why you ABSOLUTELY don't need a fancy camera," and then the next, "Why you ABSOLUTELY need a Leica." And then the next "iPhones are just as good as medium format."

Instead of a cohesive voice as a photographer, he seems to fluctuate between wanting to please people and wanting to drive clicks to his blog.

Benjamin Thomson's picture

" The guy who plasters his rf camera on peoples face???"

I read that sentence 5 times but have no idea what it means.

Ive interviewd Eric Kim before for Vice, he's a great photographer and teacher.

Ariel Martini's picture

he's still "influential"

Eric Reichbaum's picture

He's a great self-promoter, not a great photographer.

David Vaughn's picture

One of my favorite street photographers. http://www.street-photography-hamburg.siegfried-hansen.de/

His eye for composition, humor, and conceptual communication is something to be studied.

QuintaQuad 54's picture

Actually, the Eric Kim cowboy portrait doesn't ignore the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds has both horizontal and vertical components. Although the subject is bullseyed in the center, the yellow glasses and eyes (which are major focal points) are dead on the top horizontal line of thirds. Not always necessary to be at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical to employ the rule of thirds...

Adam Bevan's picture

I take your point but the main issue I was trying to raise is that a lot of amateur photographers assume that to make a shot interesting, their subject has to sit on one of the third lines (I'm talking about the cowboy, not the glasses - which I agree are on a third line).

QuintaQuad 54's picture

Totally get where you're coming from, Adam. My main reason for commenting was that I see many photographers who think of the rule of thirds primarily with respect to the verticals, only considering the horizontals at the intersection of the verticals. And while I'm sure your comment about ignoring the rule of thirds wasn't intended to do so, I think it reinforces amateur photographers' emphasis on the verticals as being the rule of thirds.

Eric's portrait is a great example of utilizing the horizontal rule of thirds. I think you'll agree that the portrait would be far less interesting if the cowboy's head was bullseyed in the center. Placing it (and specifically the glasses) on the horizontal third allows for centering the cowboy while maintaining an interesting composition. So in that respect I think the rule of thirds plays an important role in the composition and hasn't been ignored.

Enjoyed the article. All the best...

"Street photography continues to be a growing area in the industry."

I am not sure it is an industry. Is there a prospect of actually making a living? I truly am unaware of this field if so. If one cannot get releases from recognizable people, one can not use them commercially. HCB and others were sent on assignments for money. I doubt there are too many publications doing that any more.

Art? OK, but I am not sure you are going to talk too many galleries into a show.

Seems like a nice hobby that can get you noticed on photo sites FWIW.

Anonymous's picture

I prefer something subtle and also silent impact in an image when it comes to Street Photography.
Something like George Hashiguchi and Alessandro Rizzi.

Should check em out.