Street Photography: To Do, or Not?

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Street photography is a relatively new thing for me, and I struggle to decide whether I like it or not. Lately, I have been writing a lot of posts that centre around some of my favorite buildings and neighbourhoods, and I suppose is a form of street photography, but I’m torn as to whether or not I enjoy taking pictures of people on the street.

Typically, I prefer to work with and interact with my subjects, rather than snap shots of them without their knowledge. I feel like it might invade their privacy in some way if I take their photo and then walk away without speaking to them.

One thing I would like to start doing is making portraits of complete strangers that I pass in the streets. I sometimes pass by people that have such interesting looks, that I later wish I would have stopped to speak to them. Actually, if anyone reading this post has done portraits of strangers and has tips that they’d like to pass along, I would love to find out what works if you would leave a comment below.

For now, I’ll post some of the street images I’ve taken over the past couple of years. I have no idea who any of these people are, but I often wonder what their stories might be. It’s funny, because I am a very intense people watcher… I always have been. So, perhaps the images below represent snapshots from within my head, and give you a taste of what my eye sees as I walk around.

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  1. I really like these shots. And although I totally relate to your ethical / human dilemmas, I do find that photos done unstaged, without contact, have a naturalness…

    1. Katalina,

      I’m with you 100%. I tend to prefer candid shots over posed images… unless I’m going for a portrait, which I’m working on improving my technique on. I find that, at least in my case, I have to take a lot of candids to get one or two solid keepers. I’m still working on “seeing” the image before I click the shutter, but that did seem to happen when I took most of these… especially for the first one of the girl smoking and checking her email. I liked the lighting, her pose, and the two guys staring her down as they walked by on the left side of the frame.

      It just happened to be a perfect moment for me.

      1. Yeah Shane, I’m into street photography especially in relation to infrastructure in Nigeria. The girl’s picture is class act. Well done! I find that this genre of photography is however hazardous. I have received a few knocks to my head for trying it with this picture
        The commuters who ride free without paying by climbing the roof of this train felt I was taking their shots to give to the police whereas I was interested in the strange occurrence where a coach had to pull off a moving train.
        If you love what you’re doing, keep doing it but remember that there are consequences especially if a law is being broken.

  2. Shane – It’s interesting that you should post this today. On the way to work, I spotted a man feeding pigeons on a small concrete island between the streets. The island was covered with pieces of bread. I was already late for work and I was dropping off the kids to school so stopping was not an option (remember I always carry my camera with me).
    But I wondered what that man would think if I did stop to take a few pictures. There were a few men standing around across the street (usually there are migrant workers standing there) so that would also make me feel uncomfortable. I don’t know if it would’ve been safe for me.
    As far taking shots on crowded streets (like NYC), I don’t have a problem with it.
    Your shots are terrific. I don’t really know why but I really like the last one.

    1. Mar, I think it all boils down to confidence. I’m a relatively shy person at the onset, but often warm up and relax as time goes on and I think that partly explains my hesitation in street photography.

      Your situation this morning sounded like it was a tough call, and since I’ve never been to NY I wouldn’t know about the safety, but it definitely sounds like you would have had a nice photo opportunity. Too often, I kick myself for not being more aggressive with my photography, but the confidence is slowly coming.

      And yes, I changed my theme a couple of nights ago. I really like clean black and white looking themes and stumbled on this one when I was perusing some other blogs. I think it’s exactly what I had been looking for.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment… have an amazing day!

      1. I don’t live in the NYC but visit often enough to photograph. The picture opportunity in question was in an urban area that I drive through on my way to work in central New Jersey.

        But I know what you mean about confidently grabbing those opportunities. Sometimes, I am afraid that I would embarrass myself but afterwards, I am kicking myself instead.

        Have you ever heard of “Humans of New York”? Taking “street photography” to a whole new level. But then it’s New York. πŸ™‚

  3. I love looking at photos of people, but I rarely have the ability to take someone’s picture and maintain the spontaneous naturalness of the moment. So, of course, random shots of strangers on the street accomplishes this well. This post has some great shots. I really liked the leashed dog, rather resisting the coffee shop.
    I very much value my privacy and want to be asked permission before my image is used anywhere. So I have a similar dilemma in regards to taking photos of people I don’t know and using them in my art.
    No answer in this moment, but I thought you were very considerate in how you showed these people. Most don’t reveal faces, but get the feeling across perfectly.

    1. Thanks for that really great comment Jessica!

      Yes, I don’t really see the need to show faces most of the time, and I really like shooting from behind or from the side. I feel like it helps us to go along on the subject’s journey. With the last image of the three suited guys, I feel like we’re part of the clan, chatting and heading to the local for lunch.

      I also like the shot with the dog. It’s such a dainty little dog, and it’s owner doesn’t come across as someone who would own such a pet.

      Thanks for stopping by and laying down your thoughts.

      1. Your street pictures are promising. But may a disagree in some aspects? The main subject of Street Photography is the public situation private people are in. You should ask yourself, if smoking, walking, making music, taking out the dog is the kind of theme you want to capture. That might be okay as a starting point. But you’ll recognize sooner or later it’s quit repetitive. Even more, if you refuse to show peoples faces. Therefor #6 is the best. It shows the mood of a nice little chat among friends. Try to capture this more often and you’ll become addicted to Street Photography. And one more thing. Don’t over process your pictures. Color shifting and vignetting is quit distracting.

      2. You make some great points here, and yes, I like the shot of the two friends chatting as well. It really helps tell a story of how friendly our city is.

        Truthfully, not showing people’s faces isn’t intentional. It just so happened that that the images I chose for this post happened to be like that, and I thought they fit well with what I wrote about.

        And, thanks for the tip on processing. That’s always something I’m experimenting with. Sometimes I process images the way I think they look best, and sometimes the processing depends on my mood. I happen to quite like how these turned out πŸ™‚

  4. Great work, I think you should keep going. I see Street Photography as trying to tell a story rather than just snaping people’s pictures in the street. Finding the different or the unusal in a scene and being quick enough to capture that moment, thats the magic

    1. Mike, I agree with you completely. I think the discussions I’ve had on this post have reinvigorated my interest in continuing the street photography.

      Thanks for your comment.

  5. I couldn’t do it, I have to say, I feel awkward photographing people, I’ve done, but I don’t like it. It is a big thing, I think it is because I don’t like being photographed, so I don’t want to do it to other people.
    You asked about people who like to do this for tips, have you read Richard Guests blog, let me find the link for you,
    That is what Richard does, he goes out onto the streets of London and finds people he thinks are interesting, talks to them and then takes photos of them. Good luck with it Shane.

    1. Leanne, it’s so funny that you linked Richard’s blog here because you are the second person to refer me to him… thank you so much!

      Unlike you, I LOVE to be photographed. Actually, that sounds a bit strange… but I really don’t mind it at all. So, I’m not sure what the hesitation is for me, but one reason I like it is because I sometimes imagine myself years from now, looking back at these old photos, and seeing how different today is from tomorrow.

      Thanks for the great comment Leanne.

  6. A great post on an interesting subject! I feel more comfortable taking photos of people from afar, although I know what you mean about invasion of privacy. I’ve been on a couple of shoots with Richard Guest and was stunned at the ease with which he approached people to take their portraits. I stayed away from it for a long time, but have set myself a challenge this year to go for it. So far it’s paid off, and only one of the eight people I approached turned me down. I’d say just go for it – what’s the worst that could happen! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for the great comment!

      I have to agree with you, it’s likely something that becomes easier with practice. I’m definitely not an intimidating looking or acting person, so I’m sure I would see similar results as you have.

      Best of luck with your goal, I will follow along with interest.

  7. W.O.W. So exciting, freshly pressed! Congratulations and so well deserved. The image of the three suits is fantastic! And, this is why I follow your blog, you are a conscious photographer. I love that you think so highly of all of your subjects. I have learned so much from your take on photography already. Looking forward to more. Great work!

    1. Carrie, that’s such a wonderful comment, but far too kind.

      If you happen to learn something or find inspiration from what I do, then that is probably the nicest complement of all. I simply like to share what appeals to me, and if that happens to grab you in some way, then all the better.

      Thank you so much again, I’m glad we’ve been able to connect through blogging.

    1. Hey Franco, it sure is a good place… tonnes of variety.

      I read your post about cellphone use… a good read. I definitely have to agree with parts of it, but the one thing I love about phones these days is the camera feature, and being able to do some of the things that I used to have to do on a computer. I definitely don’t use it for work, but I sure do find it handy. I NEVER use it while driving though… that’s brutal. I’ve got a family to think about. However, it definitely helps pass the time in those long Starbucks lines πŸ™‚

  8. I really enjoy unstated photos. Planning out a shoot oftentimes results in contrived grimaces, while capturing photos on the sly can result in a more natural picture.

    1. I agree 100%. I love candids, especially when photographing my boys. I find that the shots are much more real, and they represent much more pleasant memories than simple posed shots.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. I love the aesthetics of street photography and its truly unguarded nature. People being people. I have known street photographers who approach their subjects after they’ve taken the pictures to talk with them, explain what they do and even show them the images.

  10. In my experience, this was a discussion that began with the publication of Robert Frank’s book The Americans, in 1958. The critical discussion concentrated on when and when not to inform photographic subjects, as well as on the ethical issues of candid photography. It’s not a simple question. In my case, I do take candids on the street, but if possible I always approach the subject (if it’s a person) for permission afterwards, and show them the pictures I’ve taken. I carry releases in my jacket pocket, because you never know if you will end up selling the rights to an image later. Non-public figures have a right to anonymity in my ethical universe. If they demand that I delete an image of them, I do. But by far most people are flattered to be viewed as an object of artistic interest.

    I’m a shy person too, but I’ve had some terrific experiences forcing myself to talk to people I point cameras at. Getting the backstory provides further inspiration on how to edit and present the images after you’ve taken them.

    1. You’ve made some really amazing points here, and I couldn’t agree more. I like that you actually carry model releases… such a good idea.

      I really should force myself to approach people more, because more often than not, I come away with either an excellent story, or a solid lesson learned.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  11. interesting photos…. though lately I’ve been doing more nature photos I really enjoy street photography…. most of the portraits I have taken are of ‘strangers’ with no contact…. someone who catches my eye and I take a quick snap as they move by….. agree that you have to be aware this can be intrusive… rarely do I post these photos unless I alter them enough to prevent identity… a definite drawback… but I love having them and wondering about these folks…. the interactive photographs with permission have a different feel…. warmer and friendlier… but the subject is in good faith reaching out to say ‘hi’….. both are good for what they are….

    1. Yes, I know what you mean. I sometimes shoot from the hip just to get the shot. It can either work or not, but it can also give a completely different perspective of the scene. For instance, yesterday I was taking photos of an old concert venue and noticed an oddly dressed guy about to walk by. I lowered my camera and snapped the shutter without looking, and managed to catch an interesting perspective of the building’s famous red doors and his boots with the bottom of his trench.

      I’m going to look at it when I’ve had time to remove myself from the image and see if I still like it down the road.

      Thanks for stopping by. You’ve got some really great images on your site as well.

  12. AS someone who takes street photos in my home City of Oxford. UK.I say as long as you talk to the people you take photos of. Then go for it,just back up your work

      1. I love this City, We have bands from all over the world. Got all my photos back off my back up drive.

  13. I think a story with these pictures (even if that story is just for you) would go down really Well. Maybe just ask them their passion (still oblivious you have taken the pphotograph) I don’t know if I’m getting across What I mean but it sounds amazing in my head haha

    1. I know exactly what you mean, and I agree. I think it’s a great idea, however I wouldn’t want to try to recreate a “Humans of New York” type of thing. That’s already been done once… and very well.

  14. Wow! Great shots. I like your style. I’ve only embarked on one street photography session and what I took away from it was I loved interacting with the people I shot. I learned much about them. As far as being candid when I shoot, that is something I would like to try. Although, I feel intimidated by it myself. But, I once heard that the only thing that matters is getting the shot. So I suppose one just has to go out and shoot. BTW what equipment do you shoot with. Your photos are DOPE!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the great comment. I’m starting to realize that I’m not the only one who trembles just before clicking the shutter while our cameras are pointed at strangers.

      I sometimes find that it depends on the mood I’m in. Some days I feel more bold and daring, while on other days, I like to hide in the crowd.

      I shoot a bit of film with an old Minolta SRT101, but I more often use a Sony NEX camera with either a 19mm or 30mm lens. I also really love shooting with a really old manual focus Minolta 35mm lens mounted with an adapter. I love having complete control of the focus.

  15. I have often wondered the same thing: Should you ask permission to take a picture of someone? Also, how do people feel if someone stops them in the street and asks to take a picture? It might start some interesting conversations, but some people might get weirded out. I know I probably would be if someone stopped me. You should post some of the advice you get in response to this because I would love to see it too!

    1. Olive, your idea about creating a post out of the responses is genius. I’ll do that for sure, and full credit will go to you… if I can remember. So please keep an eye out for it and be sure to remind me that it was your idea if I forget πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for the great idea.

  16. I am having the same debate should I or not? I am not sure that I would like that a perfect stranger takes my picture on the street so I am a little reluctant to do it to others but I think it has so much to offer and you can get beautiful photos with street portrait.

    I did a few try, not sure about the results, but I think it is something you need to practice to get beautiful photos but I guess if I never get comfortable with it then I’ll stay with photographing buildings or nature.

    1. I think that practice makes perfect, and them more you do it, the better and more comfortable you become. It seems from the comments that people speak overwhelmingly positive about street photography, as long as you do it tastefully and respectfully. Anyway, buildings and nature are great subjects too. I have plenty of buildings on my blog.

      Nelson, thanks so much for stopping by and for leaving such a thoughtful and meaningful comment.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Sheila!

      I think the photo you mentioned definitely sums up Toronto and its people. We tend to be a pretty friendly bunch… once you break through the reserved outer layer we may show on first glance.

      I really like that moment I captured of those two talking, I’d like to think that if I showed the image to them today, they’d be happy with it.

  17. Street photography is actually a challenge. The challenge to test your confidence; the challenge to test your creativity; to capture especially people in their innate moments; to be part of the street (or public places for that matter) while at the same time keeping invisibility; the challenge to capture them face to face without vexing their private moments; the challenge to make something out of nothing. The challenge to APPRECIATE all the things we take for granted along the way.

    1. Elmer, your comment was better than my whole post… and it contained absolutely no images πŸ˜‰

      You should write a book on street photography with that slick writing skill of yours. Your comment couldn’t be more appropriate, and it sums up everything I try to accomplish with these images.

      Thank you so much for putting it much more eloquently than I could.

  18. This is a great post Shane and I too really enjoy your street photography.
    I really want to take photos like these, but I”m not sure whether I can, from the same ethical standpoint. I too wonder about people and their stories…
    I think I’m undecided. Again great post!

    1. Robyn, these are the best of probably six billion attempts πŸ™‚

      I think I was less sure when I wrote this post than I am after reading all of the tips and comments above. Street photography is definitely an art, and when done right, and with legitimacy, there’s nothing unethical about it.

      Keep going with what you’re doing… I love visiting your blog.

      1. lol… six billion aye? πŸ˜€
        I will keep doing what I’m doing… thank you. I’m glad you enjoy visiting.
        It’s been so interesting reading the replies to your post and will look forward to your next. I definitely agree with your thoughts.

  19. feels like i’m right there…lovely captures…great post…i received this quote once…β€œIf you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photography” – Bruce Gilden

    1. Well, I love Bruce Gilden. The man somehow has the ability and nerve of steel to get right in your face and capture that perfect moment. His “Postcards from America” series in Florida is incredible.

      Thanks for passing on that quote, it’s awesome… and so true.

  20. Great post, and great topic! I’ve always struggled with this. But I do believe the culture I’m in also plays a role. In Africa, it came as natural as can be. The people are so open and friendly, all I had to do was kinda lift the camera toward them and raise an eyebrow, and they became enthusiastic participants. I would fill a card or run out of battery before I ran out of people wanting me to photograph them next….they’d wave to me from down the street, come up here! In Asia, it’s been mixed. Sometimes I feel quite comfortable and bold, and other times, I feel strange and miss great opportunities. It’s a constant process of overcoming my natural reserves.

    I love the shots you chose for this post!

    1. Thanks so much, and thanks for your great comment about location. I guess everyone’s experiences with street photography may differ simply based on their location, and the culture that surrounds them. Some parts of the globe are definitely more open to these kinds of things than others.

      I love the points you’ve made… solid food for thought.

    1. Frank, thanks for commenting.

      I like shooting from the hip at times. It gives you a different flavor and a completely different perspective. Unless we’re five years old, we’re not used to seeing from that point of view.

  21. You candid shots are awesome. At first I thought it was a story board you were creating on smoking until I saw the three guys without a cigarette. Good job though. My Nigeria Infrastructure News is all about this concept so it’s nice to see someone doing the same.

    1. Larry, that’s too funny. I looked back on the images after reading your comment and realized that it could have definitely been the start to a post about smoking. Maybe I’ll have to do that one at a future date.

  22. Hi Shane! Just found you on Freshly Pressed, and what a finding! These photos are awesome, and I’m especially in love with the 3rd one. The dog seems to hate the idea of going to Jimmy’s Coffee… Brilliant!

  23. Yeah, I just started doing this as well. Thankfully, my camera has one of those tilty-flippy LCS screens, so I can shoot from the hip without being super obvious about it. I realise that makes me sound like a bit of a creep, but it kinda works?

  24. You got some great shots there! I’ve been doing street photography while traveling, and depending on the culture it gets kinda tricky. Traveling around Hong Kong, people didn’t mind seeing my get up close and taking photos. But my travels in Japan, I learned that when they see you pointing that camera, they look the other way (great way to move past a group of people on the sidewalk). In all situations though, I try to get the attention of the subject, and have them see that I have a camera in my hand. If they move away quickly, then its a no go, but if they arent paying attention or just don’t mind, then shoot! Check out my Adventures category to see some shots I took in Hong Kong. I am working on posting more of my photos still. Hope this trick helps you feel better of the invasion of privacy.

    1. You seem to have had a similar experience in Japan as another commenter above… that’s very interesting.

      I haven’t done much street photography while travelling, so I don’t have much experience on the matter. I think that since I would be in a different locale, I would feel less restricted about my street photography because I would be looking at it from the point of a tourist.

      Not sure why it should be any different when shooting at home though… hmm.

  25. My photography is roughly 95% street shots.. I want to freeze moments of un-staged humanity. I do respect others space and more often than not have asked permission for close up photos. I never photograph un-known children though..
    It’s those brief moments when people are unaware of the camera that you get the most interesting, comical, beautiful, etc shots..Many of the great Masters did strictly street photography so on that I say click on !

  26. I like this post. I like your honesty regarding how you feel about street photography. Honestly, if someone would take pictures of me on the street, I would not like it. But then again, these photos are amazing! you wrote: “perhaps the images below represent snapshots from within my head, and give you a taste of what my eye sees as I walk around.”; and I all I can say is your eye sees a lot of interesting things! Thanks for sharing with us how you see the world. πŸ™‚

  27. Street photography is just that, photography in the street. Whether it is candid or “staged”, it does not really matter. What matters is that you are capturing life on the street. I prefer the candid shots over “staged” shots or shots where you have asked the person to somewhat pose for you. It’s all a matter of personal taste. Though, in the end, which ever flavor of street photography you take up, you have to learn how to interact with the general public. You just never now when a situation may arise where someone might be upset that you pointed a camera in their direction. This is where street smarts and diplomacy come in. Even David Hobby has tips & tricks to take photos of people without them knowing it. For example: pretend you are taking a picture of something above someones head and then bring the camera down pretending you a reviewing the photo, but instead take a photo of them. Though, this only may work with a leaf shutter camera, which is what David was using at the time he was giving the tip. Something else that you may want to look into: zone focusing. Learn zone focusing (if you have not already) and you can just snap away without really bringing the camera to your eye.

    1. I assume you’re speaking about the two older men playing in the subway? I’ve seen them a few times, and they make me smile each time I pass.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      1. Shane, I apologize for taking so long to respond! I haven’t been blogging for a while, but I’m paying more attention now and hope to start writing soon. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. Thanks for being patient with me!
        Terry Chandler

  28. I love the photography disregardless of the violation of there privacy, its natural and demands a concept of sound from my own perspective of field as a singer and a producer… Melodies and picture makes a better view of the whole sense, Its more like ”’really happening outside live now”’, kinda thing… Beautiful.

  29. Toronto’s a great city with lots of great street life as you show here. I was trying to figure out how the challenge just came out and you already had 143 likes, then realized this is an older post. Phew! πŸ™‚


    1. Haha, thanks for stopping by to check out my post. Ya, most of those likes are from yesterday when my post was Freshly Pressed. Besides, at the moment you already have 53 likes on your contribution, so I should be asking YOU how it’s done.

      It sure has been a fun 24 hours as a blogger because of it.

      Great blog by the way. Wyoming is definitely somewhere I’d like to visit someday.

  30. For all the time we spend trying to be different than what we are in a given moment – i am grateful to know we still herald the moments we are exactly who we are. Thank you so this beautiful post

  31. I think you are very good at this. I love street photography. It takes a slice of life and tells a story through it. One of my favourite street photographers is [or was I guess I should technically say] is Vivian Maier…she is so good.

  32. Wow! Congrats on being freshly pressed. Brilliant photographs; and I agree with you completely on the thought of invading privacy of street walkers.

  33. I was just browsing through the freshly pressed, and yours caught my eyes most! I love photography, and I love these pictures! They’re so real and ordinary, but they have a beautiful and relatable quality. I am definitely a little shy when it comes to snapping shots of complete strangers, but you’ve done it in a bold yet reserved way. Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. I love your blog.. I have been wanting to post a blog for years and am now inspired. Have been shooting street photos for many years and enjoy the art of not offending someone. I tend to shoot from side or back to avoid ID . For many years, I shot hundreds or seems like thousands of weddings documentary style so by necessity I became quick and skilled at seeing it in my minds eye , anticipating motion then shooting.I haven’t shot weddings in over 10 years but love people, nature, landscapes and very close to New Orleans offers great subject matter!

  35. Exactly the reasons why I have never ventured into this area, too scared of the possibility of offending a complete stranger. Perhaps because I wouldn’t be entirely comfortable if someone does the same to me on the street.

    1. Yes, but I think I’ve learned a lot of new tips through the comments on how to approach this type of photography with a little more ease.

      It’s not for everyone though πŸ™‚

    2. i don’t know…. i would think maybe to see it as a compliment. knowing that i was dong something rustic or edgy , something… someone else wanted to capture forever. not in a narcissistic way, just in a complimentary way… ? It is something i think we wont know how we feel until it happens….unless of course you are the one taking the pictures then you get to create that moment and find out πŸ™‚

      1. that’s one very positive way to look at it πŸ™‚ … again very situation dependent.. what the subject is upto, how they are approached, their understanding of the situation and a lot of other things including what state of mind the subject is in.

      2. YES. That last point is dead on. In addition to understanding the situation – how the subject feels about what they know. And I’m sure a million other X Factor . Great piece, again, you got people thinking and talking:)

  36. Loved your thinking and photos. There seems to be no legal reason for not taking these photos unless you try to sell them as I understand it.

  37. I love your street shots. I have also wondered about the ethics of taking strangers pictures, but I think when people are out in public, they are considered fairly fair game to artists and photographers. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

  38. taking random shots of people without their consent could be an invasion of privacy but if spoken the natural state ceases to exist…I dont know the correct answer but the your shots are lovely….loved the one with the two musicians – they seem so lost in their world…
    congratulations on being freshly pressed and thanks for sharing these Shane

  39. Enjoyed your photos – especially the man on the bench and the last one. I know what you mean – I always feel awkward when I take pictures of people without asking them, but I really prefer a less staged look. Usually I get pretty flustered about it and just snap something quickly. πŸ™‚

    1. Glad you liked the shots Lynda! Try shooting from the hip sometime, that’s what I did when I first started out. It makes you a lot less obvious, and more importantly, it gives you a whole new perspective because you’re taking photos from a different vantage point.

  40. Appreciating the dedication you put into your website and in depth information
    you provide. It’s nice to come across a blog every
    once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material.
    Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including
    your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    1. Wow! I’m so honoured you like my site. I try to tweak it when I have a chance or an idea for something new. I’m pretty happy with the new layout I’ve picked… so it’s nice to know it appeals to others as well.

      Now the pressure is really on to keep it interesting for you πŸ˜‰

  41. I just wanted to say – I left Toronto for Manchester, England over 8 years ago, but I never stopped missing it. Your photos made me miss Toronto very much, all over again, with a dull ache. It’s one thing to see those postcard-perfect pics of the skyline (which still make me go awwww), but another to see life on the street. That’s special. Thank you, even if it makes me a little sad. Great shots.

  42. Try shooting your street photography in black and white. Try converting your images here into black and white. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.

      1. Absolutely. I’m down to be vain a little for an unknowing picture from a stranger. As long as it doesn’t make me feel compromised or look bad haha. Product of my human condition I’d say

  43. Hi Shane,

    Great shots really!
    Like you, I’m an intense people watcher too, thanks for coining the term.
    I love taking pics too and just recently gotten a new point and shoot cam. However, I am a bit too gawky and awkwardly when others take my pic. As a result, I do selfies. Bad.
    My new cam is needed for pics of the handcrafted natural and organic products I whip up and sell in small batches.
    Have you pray tell, any kind advice to product shots?
    Any is greatly appreciated! πŸ™‚


    1. Hi Wati,

      Thanks for stopping by. Everyone reacts differently when a camera is pointed at them. I guess the thing to remember, is that everyone already knows what you look like, so there’s no need to be self conscious about having your picture taken. The camera will not find anything new or weird about you.

      As for product shots, I don’t have a lot of experience with that, but I would start by setting up your bottles near a window and use window light… which is always beautiful. That light, and the soft shadows it produces, may start to improve your product shots.

      Hope that helps.

      1. Hi Shane!

        I think you nailed it good with the self pics. Yes, everyone knows how I look like already, but I guess I know best hence the selfies. Lol!
        Will try to remember your tip when someone else is behind the camera.

        Hmm, window light is great! Very friendly feel to it, and natural light is always good.
        Never thought if it. Will get right to it soon.
        Singapore has a lot of sun, so I am hoping to have a good day shooting away!

        Thanks much again! πŸ™‚

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  45. I think street photography can be rewarding and very effective. If you highlight problems within your city via your street work etc… Also you just need to look at eric kim & thomas leuthard to see that even their style doesn’t really get a reaction on the streets and their right in your face.

    Good luck

  46. It is indeed an ethical dilemma and while I like to click people in their natural poses, I do agree that people may take an offence to it. For this reason, I prefer not to take them by surprise by taking a close-up. I’d rather include them as a part of my photograph along with the landscape.

    But then to each his own.

    Nice photos…very candid!

  47. Wow I love these!! I have recently become fascinated with taking photos of people without them knowing. The real story of a place is in the people who inhabit it.

  48. some great photos. capturing little samples of society under a microscope. capturing a small % of the person at the centre of the shot. the photo tells a short story. a writer could easily put down a paragraph or two of the thoughts that are contained within the photo. the sort of thing i often do on holidays, and others say ‘what are you taking a picture of that for?’ or onlookers give you a wide berth. your photos are just much better than mine. you have a talent for capturing the moment. keep it up!

    1. Michael,

      Thanks for stopping by and for laying down such a great comment. It would be fantastic to take photos and have a writer put down a commentary to the images… what a great idea.

  49. Beautiful photos : ) I’d love to do more of this work too, and I’m struggling with the ethics of it – how would I feel if someone took my photo and posted it without my knowledge? And is that really worse than the photos we post of ourselves online anyway? Good to read other opinions too..

  50. I am very into street photography. You sometimes find the most interesting looks and scenes by chance. The only time I’ve had someone yell at me was in the park when I took a picture if a couple having a picnic. I thought it was a nice scene but apparently the subject did not and yelled at me threatening to break my camera. I walked away. I also watched a documentary once in which Bill Cunningham gets yelled at for snapping a photo of some ladies warring street fashion. My point is; cranky people happen so just do what you do and don’t worry about it.

  51. I love your photos. I too do street photography — the off the cuff moments which one just sees and then the buskers (whom here in SA) I always ask to photograph them first. Driving around on road trips is also great for street photography, signage in little villages and towns, the locals doing their thing etc. But I loved this post.

  52. I really really like natural shots too, but I’m kind of a coward when it comes to taking pictures of people. I’m scared of being labeled as ‘creepy.’
    I’ve heard that some street photographers take the picture, and then go up to the person, show them the photo, and then ask if it is okay to keep it.
    That is intimidating to me though.

  53. I can totally relate! Un-staged photos give so much more depth and naturalness rather than when the subject is aware. It’s difficult to pull off though, especially in North America where taking creeper shots is really not socially acceptable πŸ™‚ You did a great job though – nice to see a fellow Torontonian on here!

  54. Love these photos. I live in Brooklyn, NY and have been known to bike around and take photos of people interaction in urban landscapes. It’s the worst when they realize you are taking their photograph because sometimes they’ll actually pose and ruin the authentic emotion displayed in the shot. Most people here are used to photographers taking pics but you still have to go with your comfort level and get a sense of the situation.

    1. Thank you so much, I’m glad you like them.

      I would love to visit Brooklyn and take photos… but I’d probably be terrified while I was doing it. One good thing about Toronto, is that it has got to be one of the safest cities around, and I almost never feel uncomfortable.

  55. As a person who opposes having my picture taken by random people at random, I LOVE the idea of the “signed release or delete”. Also, having an actual conversation with the person about your photograph seems like a good way to eliminate ethical concerns.

  56. Yeah honestly you just have to be bold and smile.remember they are just people and most of the time if you say things that wouldn’t drI’ve u nuts your off to a good start.personaly I think street photography loses the truth if people know your their.your more like a traffic camera we all know about, you won’t see the absolutes like you do as a discreet observer but that’s my experience.

    1. Great points, thanks for sharing. I really do like the spontaneity of candids myself, but wouldn’t it also be cool to pair those observed moments with a nice portrait? That would tell a terrific story.

  57. Interesting post. I’m very interested in street photography at the moment, street art in particular. However, now and then I get the odd person walking through a frame and I wonder how people would feel if I started photographing them…
    I love people watching as I find people intriguing and love the moments captured by street photography. Some would call it voyeurism for the masses.

    1. I love your comment… thanks so much!

      I agree with you, and for me, those occasional strangers in the frame soon became a staple of my frames. And now, I don’t really like taking pictures without someone in the image.

      I’ll be heading over over to your blog shortly to take a look.

      1. Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚ I have more graffiti and street art photos but haven’t published many on my blogs as I want to produce a book!

  58. I started with street photography during my trip to France where I tried to interact with the people and the reactions were mostly positive: a smile and saying “hello” seems to be a good start. I really enjoy using wide-angle lens what means it’s really necessary to come as close as it is possible. Not easy at first, but I’m trying to leave my comfort zone to catch the moment. And if I need some inspiration about how great could be street photography nowadays, I check Rui Palha’s amazing works.

    1. Jamie thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate you recommending Rui. I just spent a lot of time going through his website… he’s unbelievable. Definitely an inspiration.

      Take care!

  59. I apologize if this has been covered in other remarks, but I don’t have time to read each comment. I saw a very interesting video on Linkin’s Photography section. Three or four photographers discussing their many years shooting on the street. One told of this prof photog who snapped a photo of this Rabbi on the streets of New York, then included it a large gallery show. The Rabbi sue, but the case was thrown out (never heard) because it was ruled that ‘one doesn’t have the right to privacy when in the public.’ Much like you can write a novel or a screenplay about a person that you know, use their name and tells stories about them and they have no right to infringe on your ownership of your own intellectual property. And yes, you must check out Humans of New York. He make me so jealous!!!

    1. Wow, that sounds like a really interesting video. I’d love to know the name if you’re able to share it. And yes, I really enjoy Humans of New York πŸ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing that great comment. I’m going to try to find that video, but again, if you can share it I’d love to see it.

    2. Shane, I have a post on Linkin requesting help in finding the video. It was prior to September 2012. It might take a few days if we’re lucky. I am adding a link from the American Civil Liberties Union. If you Google the issue you will find more info on the issue, which by the way varies from country to country; even here in the “Land of the Free”

      Also please check out my blogs, if you like please follow. Erotic

      I’ve only in the past week truly started an effort to build a readership. Any hints would be greatly appreciated. Taylor

  60. Great images. I’m some what in with how you feel. I love at times to snap a picture of a person that has an amazing look, or their facial structure is awesome, or what they are interacting with. At times I feel like what if they get upset? I had an issue happen to me, like 2 years ago, were I had photograph a guy from behind walking down the street in an old western style. He looked super cool and he was part of a show in the town I lived in at the moment. As a matter of fact people would dress in period dresses and stroll down the street cause it was the thing to do if you lived their and tourist loved it, anyways I had that image in my shop as a card and someone told him, hey love that pic you are in that they are selling in the shop. Well, he was a pure ASS!!! Came to my shop and said he demanded that I didn’t sell he’s image. I was like, well first of all, its your back and not your face. You are just walking down the street. I asked someone about it and he said their was nothing in getting in trouble with that. It made me feel bad cause it wasn’t with any bad intention that I took that image. It was part of my collection of Historical elements to sell to tourist. I saw him the next day and gave him the 2 prints and said, here you go, anyways no one liked them! lol lol.. and walked away. He later came to apologize and I said, to late. No worries… So, yes I know of many people that do street photography and have books and it’s ok.. Now, I did read about a girl that she decided to break out of her shell and be more outgoing and did a project were she had to go up to people, connect and have a conversation and ask if it was ok to take their picture. She told them the whole reason behind taking the picture and people loved it and said sure, she even meet great friends and it helped her be more confident and connect with people.. Great blog. Laz

    1. Wow, that’s quite a story, and I’m glad you had the last laugh. I’d love to know who the girl was that you mentioned so I could see her project. If you ever come across it, I’d love for you to post the link in a comment.

      Have a great week and thank you for stopping by πŸ™‚

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