5 Common Street Photography Mistakes

Street photography is a unique and challenging genre that requires fast reactions, solid technique, the ability to anticipate action, and a dose of creativity. If you would like to improve your street photography work, check out this fantastic video tutorial that discusses five common mistakes photographers make and how to fix them or avoid them in the first place. 

Coming to you from Justin Mott, this great video tutorial will show you five common street photography mistakes and what you can do to fix them. Even if you do not shoot street work as your primary genre, it is one that can be a real benefit for whatever it is you do shoot, especially if it involves people. For example, wedding and event photographers need to be able to anticipate action outside the frame and be ready to photograph it in pleasing light and with a compelling composition. Of course, this is exactly what it takes to create a good street shot, which is what makes it such good practice for other professional situations. Just be sure to stay safe and work in a way that makes you and your subjects comfortable. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Mott. 

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4 Comments
Lee Christiansen's picture

Ok this has some of the dumbest stuff I've ever heard... And it's hard to take critique seriously from a guy who can't expose or grade his videos, (unless UGGG is the look he's going for...)

Firstly on the subject of shoot in great light... Sheesh, the world doesn't wait around for the sun to be just perfect, and the things we want to happen don't always happen when Mr Sun is popping over our shoulder conveniently. I shoot quite a lot of street, and I may be out all day. Guess what, people do interesting things all the time. They don't sit around and wit until the light is good before they become interesting.

And whilst we're at it - define "good light." It can be interesting and technically bad light. It can be underexposed against a hazy backdrop, but be entirely contextual. We shoot often with what God offers us, and part of our skill is to nurse a good image with skilful post work - a little dodging here, a bit of burn there... But this video would have us put our camera away, ignoring the fascinating world around us, because boo hoo, the light isn't good enough.

And let's get rid of the myth that zoom lenses are bad for street. And no they don't make us lazy. What they do is allow us to get the frame we want when it happens for a fleeting moment. That's right folks - the world won't take a pause because Bob needs to run over to be closer. And no, let's not say Bob should anticipate, because the world is unpredictable, and moments are called moments for a reason.

I guess we could all just heavily crop our gazillion MP images, but then we'd lose all those lovely things like lens compression.

I'll watch the world very carefully and move to get my subject - if I have time. But a perfect prime-lens shot is no good if it is over by the time I've got there. I'm no mind reader, and I'm guessing our friend isn't either. So knowing what will happen 20 seconds beforehand... I think not.

And zooms do NOT make us lazy. I could say the same for all those wimps who moan how heavy a zoom is. A zoom gives us options. It allows us to "get the shot" but it also allows us to decide on a focal length with any compression we want - unless we're all carrying around a bag of lenses and frantically swapping them every 60 seconds (never missing a moment in the process).

And if anyone is wondering... yes I shoot with anything from 35mm to 200 for my street work. Just like primes are not the gold standard of street, neither are wide lenses. And a long lens doesn't make me any creepier than the guy who'll grab a fast shot on a wide lens.

We've got to stop prescribing "standards" for street work. A good image is a good image. And there's more than one way or style or exposure that will get us there.

I guess as proved by this video that decides to ignore any of the usual standards of colour, exposure, grade etc... :)

Sam Sims's picture

This guy thinks he’s offering advice but it really lacks substance, Firstly telling us to shoot at sunrise/sunset is not helpful. Where I live, during the summer sunrise/sunset is 4am and 9pm! Great scene captures happen during the day, not at 4am! Plenty of great photographers have captured a good number of photographs throughout the day, using the varying light sources to their advantage. This guy needs to look up the work of Fan Ho to see great daylight capture. The rest reads like ‘experiment more’ and like I say, lacks any substance. As for zooms, or any lenses and cameras, there is no right and wrong. Use the equipment you feel comfortable using. I like using a prime lens but would never tell others not to use a zoom.

Giovanni Stoto's picture

Can you pls stop posting videos and replsce them with written articles?

Lee Christiansen's picture

But it's sooo much faster to find a video and write a quick paragraph. Maybe call them "Video Essays." :)

And yes I'm tired of endless video links as well. Often I wonder if they've even been watched or vetted before putting them up. But the editorial standards of FS has alas fallen far from the tree these days. Clicks are what it cares about. (And weirdly, freelance contributors get paid more when there are more interactions - which is why we get contentious / badly argued pieces on FS I guess.)

I used to spend time on FS, but nowadays I'll give it a quick glance, and often pass on by without opening anything up.