Big questions of street photography. Taking photos of people.

It’s amazing how diverse a thing can be. I mean, I can just have a look at my feed of favourites here and see street photography of all types and sorts.

And looking at those pictures I found myself going over some “opposing” points in the genre, and how I figured them out for myself in the beginning.

Like the approach to taking photos of people in the streets.



I know many photographers prefer just to come up close and snap a portrait. I’ve seen some of them doing it in a rather aggressive way, to my liking. Like this:

There’s another way, which I followed, to be an unnoticed observer. This technique allows you to catch a more natural moment and not to destroy a story that might be unfolding. Also, it helps to avoid conflicts, of course, though some would definitely call this approach cowardly.



Since I’ve got so many various street photographers following my blog, I’ve decided to ask you a question.

What is your approach to photographing people in the streets? Do you ask for permission or prefer to be unnoticed?


6 Replies

  • I prefer to be unnoticed. However, I have, on occasion ask to take a photo. For those times I am noticed as I am taking the shot, usually of someone either performing in the street or selling something, I will smile and say thanks giving them a thumbs up.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sharon! Smile is really a good way of not getting into trouble, but in Russia, where the most of my street photos were shot, it doesn’t always help.
      I read about a trick, which I used a lot afterwards, when photographing people you can pretend you were not interested in them at all. I would stand for a moment longer after I took a photo, looking in the direction where those people were, as if I was shooting something else.
      Maybe it’s not fair or honest buy as a bit of an introvert I found this trick quite useful.

  • Really enjoying your blog and street photography. As an old introvert I also choose to be discreet when taking candid photographs. A small camera mostly shooting from the chest or hip and at events or tourist places in Australia where carrying a camera does not draw attention. I don’t make eye contact with subject so they are unaware the picture has been taken. It might be a little sneaky but results in images that are truly candid.
    For me it is just gross bad manners to unexpectedly jump in front of someone and snap their picture… just invites confrontation.

    • Thanks for your comment!
      A good point about the eye contact. Whatever technique I use to take pics of people I would more likely consider it a fail if a person noticed and looked at me. It might lead to some really good outcome, but in most cases people just get alerted.

      • I know exactly how you feel. I have deleted so many pictures when it appears people are looking directly at the camera. In many cases they really haven’t noticed it because before and after burst mode shots show they only fleetingly looked in the direction of the camera for a fraction of a second.

        And thank you for visiting my blog….I am only a relative newcomer to photography in general and street photography in particular and I just love the challenge and excitement of documenting street life.

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