Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash
I’m always on the lookout for new street photography tips because unless you have the time and money to afford to visit new locations, urban photography can become quite boring.
But, the best urban photography tips don’t rely on new locations, they teach you how to see your hometown in a new light and how to challenge yourself.
This is a list of all of my favorite urban photography tips that are for budget-conscious street photographers.
Everything Looks Different From a New Angle
Photo by Dominic Bonilla on Unsplash
This tip is so simple, yet so effective. Every time I set out to shoot street photography from a different angle, I’m shocked at how much I miss every morning on my commute.
I live in a major city, so most of the wildlife in my hometown live above me, and I rarely ever see them.
But, the architecture is also easier to see when you’re shooting up instead of down.
Photo by 13on on Unsplash
You can make your subjects appear more or less important with distance, so why not get a drone or start shooting from your office building?
When you change the angle of your shot, you change your shot completely.
Challenge yourself to look up and down, to seek out different vantage points, and to create images from unique perspectives. Doing so will get you better images, more interesting images, and will help you develop your creative eye. What’s not to like about that?!
Recommended Street Photography Books
- Masters of Street Photography
- Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
- Street Photography: A History in 100 Iconic Images
Shoot in Different Weather
Photo by Scott Walsh on Unsplash
This is another surefire way to change the feel of familiar shots; shoot in every weather circumstance.
When it’s overcast, like in the photo above, your photos will appear moody, surreal or picturesque, depending upon your creative vision.
Long story short: you don’t want to be afraid to be uncomfortable.
But, when you’re shooting in wet weather, make sure you have the proper urban photography gear for it.
My go-to street photography gear pack starts with the Hex Ranger Clamshell Glacier DSLR backpack because it features a hidden rain cover I only use when I need it and is made out of water-resistant ballistic poly, which is the same material my backpacker’s tent is made out of.
But, the Hex Ranger backpack is otherwise comfortable and revolutionary. It also features an anti-theft zipper clasp, which comes in handy with urban photography.
And as you can see above, it holds a ton of gear. But even fully loaded, you get a comfortable carrying experience as you explore the urban jungle.
Comfort, security, organization, and good looks - what more could you want from an urban exploration camera bag?!
Photo by João Cabral from Pexels
But shooting in different weather doesn’t solely mean not being afraid to get rained or snowed on, because blue skies can also produce beautiful photos.
Blue skies actually lend better shadows and light rain lends beautiful reflections.
The most important thing to remember about this street photography tip is to try and capture those rare weather days in your hometown. If you live in Hawaii, capture the February tropical rainstorms, and if you live in London, capture the searing July sun.
Play With Filters
photo by Mlenny via iStock
Using filters in an urban setting can open up all kinds of interesting possibilities.
Using a circular polarizer, like the Kenko Nyumon polarizer shown below, reduces glare off of windows so the architecture of buildings is prominent instead of blinding glare of the sun.
Circular polarizers also boost the contrast of the sky, so the atmosphere is a deeper blue while the clouds are a brighter white. That’s not a bad backdrop for photos of urban scenes.
You can also use neutral density filters or a PL Fader like the one shown above to create urban photos that have a beautifully ethereal look.
You can blur the movement of water or clouds to give the shot indicated movement. Turn the shot into a black and white image, and you have an even more eye-catching effect.
photo by Nick_Pandevonium via iStock
If you have a strong enough ND filter, you can even extend shutter speeds to lengths that make people invisible. This is handy if you’re photographing a busy tourist spot and you don’t want people to appear in the shot.
Having filters for your camera on urban explorations is just another way to get creative!
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Change Your Definition of “Urban Photography”
Photo by Simone Hutsch on Unsplash
Urban photography tips so often rely on the same definition of urban photography. But, urban photography doesn’t always have to include shots of people who aren’t aware their photos are being taken. They also don’t need to be moody, include city buildings as a backdrop, or be cliche in any way.
Urban photography is, in many ways, whatever you make of it.
And a current push in urban photography is to create abstract photos in a current environment.
So, the next time you’re doing street photography, try and find those angles nobody else is thinking of.
Use Black & White
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels
Black and white urban photography has been around since before color urban photography, technically.
But, shooting cityscapes in black and white allow you to see your city in a new light (literally) and give you a whole range of fun things to play around in post-production.
B&W urban photos are moody, impactful and clean when done correctly. But, learning how to shoot in black and white after perfecting color photography is difficult.
Don’t be afraid to take a lot of photos you’ll never show anyone, but keep taking them.