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The Do’s and Don’ts of Street Photography

By Lisa Shalom | Inspiration

Street photography can be fun, but it can also be tricky.  People are always asking me how I managed to get a photo of the subject without upsetting them.  My answer is always the same - JUST ASK THEM.

An Italian friend of mine recently went to NYC with his camera and asked me how he should approach people.  Since he is a photographer, I told him the best way is to mention that very thing and hand them a business card.  Most people are flattered at the idea of a professional photographer wanting to take their photo and always ask where they can find it online later.

6 Do's & Don'ts In Street Photography

DO ask for permission if you're about to invade someone's privacy, intimate moment.
DON'T need to ask for permission if you're taking photographs in a public place.
DO carry your professional business cards, it's the easiest way to ask for permission.
DON'T take it personal if someone says they don't want their photo taken by you.
DO invest on a zoom/telephoto lens. They allow you enough distance from the person you're photographing that they aren't able to see you.
DO find out about permission depending on culture/country, every place is different and it's very easy to find out by either doing research online or by asking other fellow local photographers.

Here are some my street photographers and if I asked for permission or not:

1.  "Surfer"

_MG_1693 [1600x1200]

Used a telephoto lens, but also asked his permission.

2.  "The Blues"

_MG_1793 [1600x1200]

Used a telephoto lens.  Didn't ask permission and didn't need to.  Subject was participating in a public parade.

3.  "YUT Festival"


Used a standard lens.  Even though she was outside at a public festival, I still asked permission.

4.  "Marino Wine Festival"


Used a standard lens.  Didn't ask permission, and clearly nobody was bothered.  Wine is always helpful.

 The laws are very simple, though.  If a person is in a public place, you have the right to take their photo.  This is great news if you're ever at a carnival or other public event.  However, DON'T use this rule to invade someone's privacy.  There are paparazzi for that.

5.  "Rehovot Street Fair"


Used a telephoto lens.  Didn't ask permission and didn't need to as the child was attending a public festival.

6.  "Holi Festival"


Used a standard lens and asked permission.

7.   "Children Of Tivoli"


Used a telephoto lens.  Didn't ask permission and didn't need to, children were at a public event.

8.  "A Day At The Beach"


Used a standard lens and asked permission.

9.  "Market Vendor"

Vendor [1600x1200]

Used a standard, wide angle lens.  Asked permission.

You might be asking how I'm able to publish these photos online.  Well, like I mentioned earlier, if the photograph was taken in public it's legal to publish it.  However, if you do intend to use the photo to sell services, you will need a model release.  I've personally never had anyone sign a model release.  Then again, I never let companies use my photos to sell products or services.

Have a different street photography tip? Share on the comments :)

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