The 4 Cs of Street Photography

The 4 Cs of Street Photography

by -
The 4 Cs of Street Photography


A warmest of welcomes and a big thank you to everyone who’s choosing to enter our ViewBug Street Photography contest!

Street photography is, without a doubt, one of the most vibrant and exciting types of photography a shooter can indulge in. It is always evolving and for the most part, does not follow any rules! However, some of you may be new to street photography or unsure of how to approach it. Here is my quick “4 C’s” of street photography to get your feet wet!


Characters in Street Photography

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” wrote William Shakespeare and that quote is really what street photography is all about. Street Photography is a never-ending play with a limitless cast of characters. The characters are indeed a vital ingredient in the scene, or in this case, the photograph.

But how do you find a particular subject, or character? What makes up a good character? There are no clear-cut answers for this. It could be the way they’re dressed. The expression on their face. Their interaction with another subject or their surroundings. It’s key to hone your people-watching skills and to look at the folks on the street as all potential characters in the story you’re going to tell.


Camera in Street Photography

This is the easiest thing to remember about street photography: always have your camera with you!

Because street photography is unscripted and unpredictable, it is imperative to be prepared and have your camera with you whenever you’re out on the streets. I’ve learned that the hard way by missing shots because I was without my camera.

But now, with technology coming as far as it has, we have no excuse to be without a camera. Sure it’s not realistic to carry a DSLR around all the time, but look at the amazing quality today’s mirrorless and compact cameras are capable of. And, on top of that, it’s a safe bet you’re already carrying a camera, anyway… your phone!


Composition in Street Photography

Composition, in any genre, can make or break a photograph. However, in street photography, achieving great composition can be a very, very tall order. The streets, like I said before, are unpredictable. It’s a volatile environment. The opportunities present themselves in an instant, so it can be hard to compose on the fly.

It’s best to keep the rule of thirds tucked in your mind when composing on the streets, but it’s also good to remember a few other things. Be aware of your surroundings and use them to your advantage when composing. Look for leading lines around you. Use them to draw a viewer deeper into the image or towards your “character”. Also, use the geometry of your environment to your advantage. A city, in particular, offers a wealth of geometry to work when composing.

Framing is another important compositional element to factor in on the fly. Again, the streets provide plentiful opportunities to make great “frame-ups”. Doorways, windows, etc… they’re everywhere. It’s important to practice and practice some more. With practice, you hone your ability to predict how a scene will unfold before you press the shutter.


Courage in Street Photography

Lastly, there’s courage. Street photography may seem like a frightening endeavor at first, but few types of photography offer more of a reward for the perceived “risks”. Don’t be afraid to go out there shooting. You have a right to be out there and a right to enjoy your passion. And street photography doesn’t mean you have to be confrontational or in someone’s face. It can be done in a stealthy, candid fashion… which some people prefer. You can even play the role of the tourist, if you want to be sneaky.


Just remember, if you’re afraid someone will give you a dirty look or confront you when you’re taking a shot, to keep your most powerful weapon for self-defense handy. And that’s a smile



  1. Good advice. And yes a smile will work every time. Well almost every time. I give the appearance of a federal agent no matter what I’m wearing but I just remember a FED NEVER smiles. So smile folks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.