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How to start shooting in Street photography

“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph.” – Andre Kertesz

people behind their backs

Nowadays taking a good photo is easier than it was years ago, it is for many reasons, because our sight is more trained because of all the photos we see in social networks, exhibitions, books, magazines... and because it’s very easy to photograph with the new cameras and other digital devices and how quickly they are edited on our computer. But many times it happens that as much as we have a better trained eye than those who photographed decades ago and although we have better and faster cameras we can’t manage to say anything with our photo which is really the difficult side of this art of photographing and what we as photographers must aspire to,

A photo that says nothing, is to contaminate the sight of whoever sees it.

Normally when we are starting to photograph the street, we choose to shoot people behind their backs, maybe we do it because we have not yet learned to observe, to select our photos before shooting or because we don’t feel comfortable confronting the subject from the front and it’s feels easier and braver for us to photograph people when they turn their backs on us.

During this course I’ll remind you again and again that we don’t photograph only for ourselves but also for anyone who looks at our photo, good Ansel Adam said that in each photograph there are two people, the photographer and the spectator,

and in this course you will learn certain tricks to capture the attention of those who are going to visualize your photos, we’ll learn certain tricks to communicate and explain a story with your images and yes, there are also many stories to tell of the people who turn their backs, we just have to observe and find that there are many stories that complement someone's back with respect to what’s in the background, there are many stories comparing someone's back to another, shooting at the nape of the neck (photographically speaking ) is to do it also on the back and there we see different types of hairstyles, bald heads, clothes, necklaces, tattoos... ​remember that about being creative, selective and a little provocative.

For a photo to grab someone’s attention it must have certain elements that you will learn throughout this course, I like that there is a bit of humor, emotions, contrast between subjects that appear in the shot, lines, geometric figures, symmetry, in my photos. I like to fill the frame, find a good composition, a decisive moment, a visual journey, a story, a game of planes... and many others that you will acquire as you learn to observe and shoot. In my opinion, if a photo gathers at least three of these elements, it’s a good photo.

First I want to show you a series of photographs that you shouldn’t do, that kind of photographs that wouldn’t say anything to the viewer, those that are going to fill your computer's hard drive and you’ll never print because you are not convinced or proud enough of the result

What do the 4 pictures shown above tell us?

Honestly, they don’t tell us anything.

They are photos taken just because, without looking, taken because I had a camera in my hand and because nowadays it’s very easy to take pictures, but they are photographs that don’t tell anything.

Photo number one would’ve been better if a flock of starlings appeared, a boy with a bow and a mule upside down, in photo number two ... you know, a story to tell.

Don’t take these kind of photos, choose, it’s better to have a good eye and judgement than 64GB memory cards.


Shooting at the back of a man who walks with a shopping bag in his left hand and helped by a 4-foot cane in his right hand doesn’t say much, in fact it’s such a bad photo, as seen previously.

But this back take can tell us something more if we look around, it can tell us a story, it can tell us about the man’s difficulty to move, it can tell us about his effort, speed, it can give us understanding and even a small smile when photographing him as he passes under a traffic signal that indicates to the traffic a certain distance for something in particular.

This signal of 250 meters makes the photo more impressive​, something that has a visual path and understanding for the viewer, without that traffic signal we would only see a man walking.

It has nothing more than what it has, there is no more than a just composition in a square format and at a just and precise moment while walking but it’s what we need for the photo to have its meaning, throughout this course we’ll talk about traffic signs a lot, we’ll start to observe them, to be creative and to use them, who knows, maybe we’ll find a back that by its curvature gives sense to a dangerous curve signal.

The photo that opens this theme was taken at Kagoshima airport, Japan, where I went to teach a three-day street photography workshop, when leaving the plane, there was a room where we had to pass immigration control, very disorganized for being Japan, although it’s true that Kagoshima is a very small city if compared to Tokyo and it’s really something that they even have an airport.

The picture as we see it doesn’t say much, many heads facing to the front isn’t what you should photograph, a message is missing, something that contrasts w