9 Street Photography Tips

Sweetheart at Brooklyn Bridge Sunset
Brooklyn Bridge Sunset, NYC, Photo By Bardia Azizi

Always shoot it now. It won’t be the same when you go back.

Jay Maisel

“Imagine standing in the shadow of the Colosseum, your camera poised, waiting for that elusive ‘decisive moment.’ A Roman couple saunters into your frame, their laughter echoing through the ancient stones—they’re the epitome of romance. Click. Now, picture yourself weaving through the energetic throng of Times Square, the neon lights dancing in your lens, and just then, a spontaneous act of kindness unfolds before you. Click. You’ve frozen a fragment of the human experience, intricate and raw, in a single photograph. This is the seductive realm of street photography, a craft that turns everyday moments into immortal stories.

For over twenty years, my camera has been my passport to the world, from the charming alleys of Rome to the vibrant corners of New York, and even into the heartwarming smiles of the Middle East. These streets, teeming with life’s chaos and harmony, have taught me that the most captivating subject of all is humanity itself.

Navigating this multifaceted landscape requires more than just a camera—it demands a keen eye, a compassionate heart, and a mastery of the elusive alchemy of light, angle, and moment. In this article, we’ll delve into the pillars that elevate street photography from mere snapshots to soul-stirring narratives. Consider this website your digital atelier, where you can hone your skills, challenge your perspectives, and contribute to a community passionate about this incredible art form.

So ready your lens and open your mind. We’re about to embark on an extraordinary journey into the soul of the street, a venture that celebrates the infinitely fascinating tale that is the human experience.”

Love Scene in Rome
Love Scene, Rome, Italy, Photo By Bardia Azizi



  • Expect the unexpected. It might be a burst of color, a unique texture, a captivating face, a picturesque location, or countless other possibilities.
  • Clear your mind (consider a quick meditation before heading out) and resist the urge to predetermine your photographic subjects.
  • Stay open to whatever unfolds in front of your lens, without fixating on a specific outcome.

Remember, great photos can slip through your grasp if you preconceive your shots.

Happiness Gesture, Rome, Italy
Happiness Gesture, Rome, Italy, Photo By Bardia Azizi


Mastering Invisibility

Achieving the art of capturing essential moments in street photography hinges on achieving a sense of invisibility, and there are several techniques to help you achieve this.

  1. Embrace the Shadows: Blend into the shadows, opting for the side of the street where they play, and seize those moments bathed in direct sunlight.
  2. Leverage Zoom Lenses: Equip yourself with zoom lenses to capture scenes from a discreet distance, allowing you to preserve the candid essence of your subjects.
  3. Embrace the Unpredictable: Street photography thrives on capturing moments beyond our control. To excel, remain inconspicuous while tracking your subjects.
  4. Patience Pays Off: At times, pinpointing your subject and patiently shadowing them until that magical moment materializes is the key to securing truly remarkable shots.
Couple kissing in the sunset at The Love Terrace ( Pincian Hill ) in Villa Borghese
Pincian Hill, Villa Borghese, Photo By Bardia Azizi

At some point, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re noticed, and there are a few ways to manage this:

  1. Flash a Friendly Smile: Sometimes, a warm smile can work wonders. If your subject responds positively, you might even consider taking it a step further by politely asking for a better picture.
  2. Stay Focused through the Viewfinder: Don’t divert your attention from the viewfinder; continue taking photos of other elements in the vicinity while keeping your subject in frame.
  3. Engage Your Subject: Approach your subject and propose a collaborative effort to create a compelling piece of art together.
Kiss at The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
Kiss at The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy, Photo By Bardia Azizi


3 Tips for Capturing Gestures in Street Photography:

  1. High-Speed Shooting Mode: Equip your camera with the capability to take multiple frames per second by setting it to high-speed shooting mode. This feature is crucial for capturing those split-second gestures.
  2. Prepare Beforehand: Once you’ve found your background and set your desired depth of field (aperture), avoid the temptation to immediately review your shots through the camera’s viewfinder. Checking your photos at this stage can lead to missed opportunities, as your subject might disappear while you’re reviewing.
  3. Stay Focused on the Moment: Instead of constantly checking your viewfinder, remain focused on the scene and the interactions around you. By keeping your attention on the unfolding moment, you increase your chances of capturing those candid and authentic gestures.
Women's Walking in Via Calimala in Florence
Via Calimala, Florence, Photo By Bardia Azizi


Crafting the Perfect Shot

In street photography, mastering composition is pivotal, often demanding quick decision-making.

  1. Focus on Your Subject: In moments of swift and unexpected action, concentrate on your subject to minimize distractions by letting the background blur. When time is scarce, swift decisions are key.
  2. Think Fast: In situations where you have a bit more time to prepare, consider not only your subject but also the composition’s corners, frame edges, and required depth of field – all within a matter of seconds. This skill comes with practice.
  3. Preselect Your Background: In bustling urban environments with constant movement, preselect your background and patiently await your subject’s arrival. This technique is especially effective for crowded cityscapes. Later, during post-production, you can crop your photos to remove any distracting elements, refining your composition.
Gesture and  Color, NYC
Gesture and Color, NYC, Photo By Bardia Azizi


Mastering Camera Sensitivity

With today’s camera capabilities, you can comfortably operate in ISO ranges of 3200 to 102400 and still capture exceptional photos. The key is to stay prepared to shoot in varying lighting conditions, whether you’re in the shadows or under direct sunlight, without any delay, and this is best achieved by letting your camera take the reins.

  1. Aperture Priority (A) for Depth Control: In Aperture Priority Mode (A), you have the freedom to fine-tune your depth of field. Your camera intelligently calculates the appropriate shutter speed, making it an ideal choice when you wish to emphasize or control the background blur
  2. Shutter Priority (S) for Motion Control: When your goal is to manage motion and achieve crisp, clear images, consider Shutter Priority Mode (S). Here, your camera takes care of adjusting the aperture settings, enabling you to freeze fast-moving subjects or convey motion through longer exposures.
  3. Manual Mastery (M) for Precision: For absolute control over your camera settings, Manual Mode (M) is the way to go. In this mode, you can set your ISO to automatic, adjust the aperture and shutter speed to your precise preferences, and conduct test shots in both shadowy and sunny conditions. The goal is to ensure your chosen settings perform exceptionally well under various lighting conditions without unnecessarily pushing the ISO to high levels, which could introduce unwanted noise into your photos.
Skateboarding at Prince St, NYC
Skateboarding at Prince St, NYC, Photo By Bardia Azizi


Capturing Crispness with Speed

For razor-sharp images, switch your camera to Speed Mode (S) while ensuring swift and accurate focusing on your desired subject. A crucial tip to remember is to set your shutter speed to no less than 1/800 of a second; this will help guarantee sharpness in almost any shot.

To further simplify the process, opt for the timing mode, allowing your camera to automatically calculate the optimal aperture setting, ensuring you capture those sharp, memorable moments with ease.

Men walking, Rome, Italy
Walking down the stairs of Villa burgess, Rome, Italy, Photo By Bardia Azizi


To achieve greater depth of field in your photographs, follow these steps:

  1. Select a Higher Aperture (Smaller Aperture Number): Choose a smaller aperture setting on your camera, typically represented by a larger f-number (e.g., f/11, f/16, or higher). Smaller apertures allow less light to enter the lens but result in a larger depth of field, keeping both foreground and background objects in focus.
  2. Use a Wide-Angle Lens: Wide-angle lenses inherently provide a deeper depth of field compared to telephoto lenses. When you’re aiming for a broad area of focus, a wide-angle lens can be very effective.
  3. Increase Your Distance from the Subject: By positioning yourself further away from your subject, you naturally increase your depth of field. This technique is particularly useful for landscapes and scenes where you want everything from the foreground to the background to be sharp.
  4. Focus on the Hyperfocal Distance: The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance at which your lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity acceptably sharp. You can use a hyperfocal distance calculator or app to determine this distance for your specific lens and aperture settings. Focusing at the hyperfocal distance ensures the maximum possible depth of field.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Lincoln Memorial Washington DC, Photo By Bardia Azizi


Women Walking at The beach of Beirut with Shisha.
Walking at The Beach, Beirut , Lebanon, Photo By Bardia Azizi

Choosing the Right Lens

When it comes to selecting the ideal camera lens, versatility is key.

Street photography revolves around capturing spontaneous gestures and people in their natural element. To synchronize these moments effectively, a zoom lens that swiftly isolates subjects is invaluable. This type of lens also allows for creative manipulation of depth of field.

For example, zoom lenses covering a range from 28mm to 300mm, or even more, provide remarkable flexibility, capable of capturing a wide array of scenes. You can always adjust it to 50mm or 80mm for practice, aligning with the wisdom of respected photographers who emphasized the importance of getting physically closer to your subjects.

Beautiful Women Posing
Beautiful Women Posing, Paris, France, Photo By Bardia Azizi

“If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

Robert Capa

In the world of street photography, every second counts, and time is a precious commodity. Therefore, having a lens that encompasses a broad focal range is essential, as there’s often no time to switch lenses in the fast-paced street environment.


Composition and Layers
Composition and Layers, Positano, Italy, Photo By Bardia Azizi

When it comes to photography, backgrounds are more than just a backdrop – they are integral elements that serve various purposes:

  1. Directing Focus: Use backgrounds to guide your audience’s attention towards your subject.
  2. Providing Context: Backgrounds can also reveal the location where the photo was taken, adding depth and meaning to your image. They can encapsulate multiple narratives within a single frame.
  3. Changing Your Angle: Alter your perspective by experimenting with different viewing angles. Try getting low to the ground or seeking higher vantage points to transform your composition.
  4. Playing with Depth of Field: Adjust your depth of field by setting your camera to its widest aperture for a shallow depth of field. This emphasizes your subject’s message. Conversely, using a narrower aperture captures more of the surrounding environment, providing context.
  5. Leveraging Colors and Architecture: In scenarios with shallow depth of field, consider incorporating the colors of walls and the sky, or use architectural elements as backdrops to enhance your storytelling.
  6. Embracing Layers: Implement layers into your background by strategically positioning your camera. This allows you to anticipate and capture the perfect moment for your narrative.

Remember, selecting the right background is paramount in the realm of street photography, as it plays a pivotal role in framing and conveying your story effectively.

Madison Avenue
Madison Avenue Time Canvas, Photo By Bardia Azizi

The Soul of the Street

Street photography is, at its core, a dance between the spontaneous and the deliberate, a blend of skill, intuition, and luck. It invites you to become a silent observer and a proactive participant all at once. When you venture into the world with your camera, you become a part of the canvas you aim to capture. The streets, the people, their gestures, and the multifaceted layers of urban life—they all become your co-authors in this riveting narrative of humanity.

Your lens is more than just a tool; it’s your third eye, giving you a fresh perspective on what’s often overlooked. The tips and techniques we’ve discussed—ranging from camera settings and lens choice to mastering invisibility and understanding background layers—are your guideposts. But remember, there are no fixed rules in street photography. What counts is your vision, your creativity, and your daring to breach the barriers of conventionality.

It’s the silent glance exchanged between two strangers, the fleeting smile of a child, the swirl of a dancer’s skirt, or the stark contrast between light and shadow that make each shot uniquely yours. Street photography is as much about the artist as it is about the art. It’s an unspoken dialogue between you and the world around you—a dialogue where every click of the shutter adds a new sentence, a new question, a new emotion.

In the words of Henri Cartier-Bresson, “To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”

So as you venture out onto the cobblestone paths of Rome, the bustling avenues of New York City, or the serene landscapes of Beirut, let your camera be an extension of yourself. Discover the stories that are waiting to be told, and be prepared to tell your own.

After all, every photo you capture is a mirror and a window—a mirror reflecting a moment you experienced and a window opening onto the world of others. It’s your unique interpretation of the universal story we’re all a part of—the extraordinary saga of being human.

Happy shooting!

Romance in Rome
Romance in The Love Terrace, Rome, Italy, Photo By Bardia Azizi

“ Only the People with great Passion can make the impossible Possible. ”

Scroll to Top