Question #28: About Feeling Uncomfortable To Shoot Street Photography

Q: "I recently discovered your work and what you capture is simply amazing. I have ventured the streets of Chicago a time or two with my D700 and find myself uncomfortable in a way. I feel like I am doing something wrong, is that a normal feeling? I usually do portraits and music photography but I see so much on the streets, I feel the moments need to be captured. What advice would you give to feel comfortable shooting on the streets? I often see moments when walking around but for somereason, I let them go by. Thank you for taking the time to answer." Jr Wyatt

A: " Thank you for your kind words Jr! This is a very normal feeling and most street photographers feel more or less uneasy at first. It's a matter of getting to the point when the desire to document life in the streets becomes stronger than the fear of doing it. 

There are several things you may want to consider:

  • First, as long as you are respectful of others and you are in a public place, you're not doing anything wrong! I make a point to never photograph people in an embarrassing or vulnerable situation or in a moment of crisis.
  • Hit the streets with a friend until you gain enough confidence to go out on your own. Even if your friend is not a photographer, having another person with you will embolden you. 
  • Practice in a busy place, a fair or a market. It's easier to blend in.
  • You may want to consider going out with a smaller camera or use your camera phone. You will attract less attention to yourself than shooting with a dslr.  
  • Join one of my street photography workshops, shameless plug :) I'll be in Chicago in May! Many workshop students shoot their first street photography during the workshop, it's amazing how much confidence they gain in just two days!
  • Here are some articles I recently wrote for dPS that may give you some useful tips on getting over the fear of photographing strangers.

How to Approach Street Photography in 12 easy steps

How to Make a Portrait of a Stranger in 8 Easy Steps

Get out there an have fun, don't hide behind a big lens, get close and enjoy the experience. Good luck!

 ©Valérie Jardin

©Valérie Jardin

Please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions!