Street photography means different things to different people, and there’s no one perspective that’s objectively better than another. Street photographers, regardless of skill level or degree of commercial success, tend to be rather passionate about their work — it’s a deeply personal endeavor. As someone who spends more than half my time behind the camera shooting on the streets, I’ve been the recipient of all manner of questions about street photography, from both photographers and non-photographers.
Over time I guess I have unwittingly cataloged all those questions, so I figured I’d share the most common ones along with my typical responses — at the very least to act as an exchange of ideas and, at best, to encourage other aspiring street photographers.
What Is Street Photography?
To me, street photography is simply capturing candid moments in public spaces. Of course, those moments tend to have human subjects as the point of emphasis, but that’s not a necessity. A stray cat creeping through an alley or random objects left unattended on a sidewalk can also be considered street photography.
Is It Legal To Take Pictures Of Strangers?
The short answer is yes. But this might depend on where you live. In the U.S. it is legal to take photos of people in public places. However, it is the photographer’s job to exercise common sense, discretion, and basic decency. If someone asks you not to photograph them, don’t insist on doing it despite their reservations — antagonizing people isn’t going to work in your favor.