Two approaches to street photography
Cleaning up in Windsor.

Two approaches to street photography

You can shoot two types of street photo. There are people who say there are more than two types, but in the end, there are really only two.

It comes down to this.

Windsor castle

I call this a scenic street photo. It counts because:

  • It’s in a public place
  • It’s candid (nobody is posing)

Here’s another one:

By the lake

Same idea. It’s true that for both of these pictures, the scene is the subject. The people are there. They are part of the scene. But they are not the main subject. The scene is the photo.

Right, so here’s the other approach:

The accordion player

In this photo, the accordion player is my subject. But he is surrounded by other people. That helps to build the narrative in the photo.

Here’s another one:

Peace campaigners.

Again, it’s clear who the subject is in this photo.

Ah, but which one is right?

For me, either approach works. I shoot both types because there are times when the scene is worth a picture.

The more classic approach is the second one. It was Robert Capa who said:

If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough

That means, you have to get in close enough to catch facial expressions and reactions. Gestures are good to catch, too.

So, there’s that.

But look at this one:

Leamington Spa houses.

It’s a urban scene, right? Nothing more, nothing less. But it works because there is a simple truth to it.

So what doesn’t work?

I love this photo. Because, I have a fondness for photos of places and spaces. I’m intrigued by how we interact with the environments we make for ourselves.

However, it’s an urban scene. A cityscape, if you like. But it is not a street photo.

There are photographers that post photos like this in social media and tag them as street photos.

No. Please, no.

Street photos need people. Or at least the presence of people.

In the end, it is that simple.