How to find subjects in street photography?
October 4, 2019

How to find subjects in street photography & How to distinguish between subject and everything around it?

Street photography is all about taking candid pictures of people around you. You don’t have to travel far away to search for your subject. And we are in India we have people everywhere around us.

Let’s start with how to find a subject in street photography.


Where do I find people?

The best and easiest place to find interesting people is to visit common places of interest. Maybe a famous tourist place, a vegetable market, or a busy bus stand. Key thing is there should be people around. They can be anyone doing anything. All you need to do is observe, be patient and click at the right moment.




What kind of people do I look for as subjects?

When you are doing street photography, don’t expect supermodels and glamorous faces to pop-up in your frame. This is going to be all hardcore reality. People engaged in their daily routines. People who are unaware that you are about to take their pictures. Here you won’t have control over light conditions, the make-up of your subject. Whatever you shoot will be real. So be selective, and alert. Observe what’s happening around you. Try to understand the emotions and feelings at that moment. This doesn’t mean that you can click a black and white photo of a child begging. Be responsible and use your creativity to showcase something positive. 




Candid is the Key

The street is all about candid photography of people with whom you interact. Being inconspicuous and taking candid pictures is the key. You need to be very patient while shooting street photography. Expression and emotions will help you narrate a story from your picture. There is a difference between a snapshot and a picture. 

'A picture is worth ten thousand words' as stated by Fred R. Barnard

Asia, China, Shanghai, Park, Street Photography, Girls


Here we have to create a picture, so your subject plays a major role. What if you have a subject who is not facing you? Your purpose is not achieved as you cannot capture their expressions. This becomes a snapshot. Also, it’s not necessary that your subject should make eye contact with you or look into your camera and pose for you. You need to find a balance between these two extreme ends.

How to distinguish between the subject and everything around it?

Let’s take it as: if your subject is 60% of the photo the remaining 40% should be the background. Here your composition skills are tested. You need to set your frame in such a way that more emphasis is drawn towards the subject. 



''If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough.'' – Robert Capa.



Move close to your subject to capture their emotions and expressions. Also, keep in mind that you don’t violate their area of comfort.

You can use leading lines and rule of thirds for composition. Leave some space around your subject so that the image does not look cluttered. At the same time see to it that the frame is not all blank with just your subject in it. This will make your photo too fake and artificial. 

You can shoot with your camera held at waist level where you don’t make it too obvious to our subject that you are about to click their picture.

Always shoot in continuous mode and autofocus. This will save you from hunting for focus while your subject is busy with their daily chores. 




Avoid Disturbing Backgrounds:

This is my personal suggestion, as far as possible avoid using a background which will steal all the limelight from your subject. Remember the 60% - 40% ratio. Use background with contrast in color. If shooting in black and white mode use backgrounds with texture or patterns. This will add more drama and mood to your pictures.  Backgrounds with movement and lights flashing or people moving around will add motion blur to your image. So it’s better to avoid such backgrounds.



Practice and practice street photography, until you know all of your camera settings. You know when to click and what to click. Always remember the 60%-40% split between your subject and its background. And there you go, you could be clicking some amazing street photographs in no time.




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Street Photography is an absolutely wonderful genre of photography where you can document the real essence of places and the people in those places. Good street photography is as good as telling a story without actually