6 surprising benefits of street photography



Street photography is loved by thousands of people around the world. What many of these enthusiasts may not realize is that there are several long-term benefits of practicing street photography.

In this article, we discuss six surprising benefits of street photography and also mention some equipment and applications that can further enhance these benefits.

What is street photography?

The definition is often hotly debated in online street photography circles. Generally speaking, when you photograph people or things in public spaces, especially in urban spaces, it is street photography.

Some street photographers passionately argue that real street photographers only photograph people or that their images should be processed in black and white to honor the tradition of masters of the past. These are just opinions.

The bottom line is that if the image looks like street photography, it is safe to assume that it is street photography. Fortunately, profiting from the profession and reaping its benefits will not depend on definitional disagreements and semantic conflicts.

Let’s discuss some of the benefits of street photography.

1. You become a better and faster photographer

Photographer in the street

This can be true for any kind of photography. However, there is a specific brand of street photography that is all about capturing moments as they happen; usually scenes with people. These scenes can contain actions or even facial expressions that can change in the blink of an eye.

The ability to separate a subject from chaos, frame it in a way that makes sense in the composition, and then snap the shot in a split second, is a skill that has developed over time. Mastering this skill will eventually make you a better and faster photographer, and it will spill over into other genres of photography as well.

This is why many street photographers opt for one of their cameras’ semi-automatic modes when walking around looking for photos. The mode of choice is generally Aperture priority mode.

Aperture priority allows the photographer to select the aperture, then the camera determines the correct shutter speed and other settings to achieve the correct exposure.

2. Experience guides you to the right camera and the right gear

Camera and floor accessories

One of the benefits of street photography is that you will learn your camera and equipment very well, especially if you spend a lot of time practicing. This can lead to the realization that you don’t have the right camera, lenses, and accessories.

Street photographers generally prefer small, compact cameras. Indeed, some of these models are small enough to fit in pockets. Their small shape and light weight also make it easy to transport without drawing attention to yourself.

As many mirrorless cameras are getting more and more compact, you may want to consider upgrading to a full frame camera. Along with better image quality and greater dynamic range, full frame cameras also perform better in low light situations and produce more professional results.

3. Reduced anxiety when interacting with strangers

Photographer taking a street portrait

New street photographers might encounter two hurdles at the start. Taking pictures of strangers may seem unnatural at first, and if you’re an introvert you may find it difficult to interact with strangers.

The good news is that when you do a lot of street photography, over time those anxieties tend to fade, or at least become a lot more manageable. There are also gadgets that can improve your mental health.

The important thing is to have patience. The development of photography skills and people skills go hand in hand when it comes to practicing street photography. Even if you don’t intend to make people the subjects of your compositions, being in your community and engaging with the world will prove beneficial in other areas of your life as well.

4. Increased situational awareness

Photographer looking off camera

Situational awareness is a set of skills that can be developed. Essentially, it’s about knowing where you are at all times in relation to your surroundings. This includes keeping track of who is around you and anticipating their actions, among other things.

A more familiar term for this is “street smart”. How appropriate for street photography!

Photographing people on a regular basis, especially in large cities, will greatly improve your situational awareness. Usually, we don’t actively seek to develop our situational awareness, but if you put the time and effort into improving your street photography, it will happen over time.

5. Become an expert on your city and offer photography workshops

Photography workshop

Street photographers tend to have their own familiar territories or places that they return to frequently to take their photos. Over time, you will become an expert in the areas you explore with your camera.

If you live in a large city where there are a lot of photography enthusiasts, you may want to consider putting your expertise to the test and starting your own street photography workshops. What is a workshop like this? Basically, you will be showing people your favorite places to take photos.

6. Become a professional photographer

Studio portrait session

After you’ve been doing street photography as a hobby for a while, you might start to consider becoming a professional photographer. There are several genres of photography that involve taking photos of people, including portraiture, lifestyle, sports, events, and weddings.

There are photography courses available here at MUO that cover a variety of topics to help you get started as a professional photographer. Check them out if you want to improve your photography or boost your photo editing skills.

Street photography is more than just a genre

We have only listed a few benefits of street photography that will apply to other aspects of your life as well. And aside from those personal skills, street photography is all about capturing history in the making. All the more reason to grab a camera and start exploring.

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