Tips for Ziploc on street photography

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Senior Member
Jan 17, 2002
Hi, Ziploc. While I am not an expert (been doing street photography only about a year), I'll try to answer your questions here.

First, visit a few websites to get inspired. I was basically inspired to get into street photography after visiting websites like:

and of course our very own Singaporean, .

After being suitably inspired, just go out and shoot lah!

On the one hand, you want to shoot candid photos. This means that the subject must not know that he is being photographed. I think, above all, your motives must be pure. There is an element of voyeurism in street photography - you want to capture glimpses of life in its raw, natural form. There is sometimes only a fine line between that and being a cheekopeh. For this reason I seldom take pictures of young women. Anyway there are enough of such pictures floating on the net. I prefer character studies of old folks and foreign workers. You will see this as a theme in my work:



On the other hand, you can get very nice smiles and portraits if you just ask for permission. You don't even have to open your mouth for this. Most of the time, what happens is that I try to get candid shots. If I am spotted, I just nod and smile in a friendly manner, and point to my camera. They will usually oblige and pose for me, or smile nicely, like this satay man and this car washer. The satay man saw me taking pictures of him through a fence and challenged me, asking what I was doing. I said I was taking photos, as a hobby. He smiled then and continued working. Now, the picture of him is very attractive, so I don't see why he would object to it.



I've only once asked verbally if I can take pictures, and the result was a very stiff portrait, which I won't bother to show.

(to be continued)

Wow! Thanks for the great advice! The photos are great too!!! I will go and try :gbounce: :gbounce:

What to shoot? The answer is whatever interests you.

For me, I am interested in character portraits, as I mentioned earlier, as well as any picture that makes a statement. I always look for humour in my compositions, as well.


Take the above picture. It works because here is an old man playing one of those old Chinese instruments and singing loudly, sitting outside Yamaha Music School. Who has a thing to teach whom? (He sounded horrible, by the way, which is why he wasn't getting many donations - but I gave him two bucks anyway, to thank him for letting me take a picture of him).


And this picture is full of irony. You can't see it very clearly, but the poster above the woman says: "Now is the time to think about retirement". She obviously has a lot of time to think about things, but obviously retirement is not one of them, since she cannot afford it. Sad and striking.

I'm sure there are lots of other subjects you can take. Each picture should tell a story, so that the viewer can enjoy it. Actually, sharing it on this forum is great, because there are so many descriptions of pictures I've taken which I never saw the implications of. Analyse my picture until so chim, it was quite funny. How I composed it deliberately this way and that.

Most of all enjoy yourself. I liked your picture of the afternoon in MRT. It's a great start!

Thanks thanks. I like your photos very much. Hope I can one day be as good as you :p

Equipment wise, I personally much prefer my Nikon CP990 over my D30. It's relatively small, and the swivel allows you to compose your pictures and shoot from the hip. Most of the time, your subjects are not even sure whether you are taking a picture of them or fiddling with your electronic toy, watching a personal video player or something. Since my pictures are mostly reduced to B&W anyway (add noise, some more, to degrade the picture), picture quality is not that important. The few times I've lugged my D30 around to take pictures were not very rewarding (except maybe the buskers).

One piece of advice I've heard is to put on a face that says: "I'm working". For that you need serious equipment (SLR at least). It won't work with a point-and-shoot. Haven't really tried that, since I prefer blending into the background.

Sometimes I dress like a tourist (loud flowery hat, sunglasses, bermudas, backpack, t-shirt) and walk around snapping. Nobody pays attention to tourists taking photos. You might even get approached by local girls.

i really love your photos. they convey a very direct (not abstract) sense of meaning/focus. im still learning street photography, thanks for the links and your advice.

The one thing ive feared is will people object, i think you have answered that in this tread. thanks you very much.

haha abt the "professional" look. hmm maybe ill just lug a tripod/monopad, ard, or sling a SLR over :) and not use it heh. i look like some small kid taking photos :devil:

There was a flea market seller once who shouted and cursed at me after I took his picture. I said I was sorry, and meant it (which is why I'm not posting his picture). He continued shouting, saying that it was not OK just because I had said sorry. I just smiled apologetically and walked away quickly. It helps that I'm a six footer, I guess. In any case, I was prepared to run (to save my D30).

Hi StreetShooter,

Really kind and nice of you to spend so much time writing such a lenghty tips for me that has so many good advices. Really appreciate it. :)

Originally posted by StreetShooter
Hi, Ziploc. While I am not an expert (been doing street photography only about a year), I'll try to answer your questions here.

First, visit a few websites to get inspired. I was basically inspired to get into street photography after visiting websites like:

thanks StreetShooter for sharing your tips on street shooting.....and thanks for those good links to other resources on the web....

talking about inspiration through reading, i first got inspired to try street photography and photojournalistic shots after spending 2 hours at Borders reading / thumbing through Bystander: A History of Street Photography :p Wanted to get the book, but i was carrying a lot of things that day, and that book is big and bulky!

it makes for good reading for anyone interested in this topic....

on a off topic note, another interesting book there is Magnum: Fifty Years at the Front Line of History: The Story of the Legendary Photo Agency........... not exactly street shooting stuff, but very engaging and interesting chronicle of Magnum. And it has very nice street photos by Henri Cartier Bresson too.



This thread is very useful for future street photography enthusiasts, hence, I have moved it to General Photography Chat where techniques, tips & tricks should reside. ;)

Good tips SS! It takes a big heart to share good tips like this.

Now, if only this could be stickified. :)

Originally posted by fish
Good tips SS! It takes a big heart to share good tips like this.

Now, if only this could be stickified. :)

fishy, r u Zac??!!

This thread should be a sticky in the Street Photography forum.

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