Street Style Photography 101: What to Know when You’re a Beginner


By Sara B.C.

Photo by Sara B.C.

So you have a fashion blog and maybe you have thought of shooting street style photography but you have no idea where to start. Can anyone shoot street style? Do I need to buy a new camera? How do I approach people?

You don’t have to keep asking yourself these questions anymore. Here are a few tips to help you get started in taking the first steps as a street style photographer.

The Camera

You actually don’t need a super expensive DSLR camera to shoot street style. Does it help? Yes. Is it absolutely necessary? No. Let me explain.

If you’re beginning to shoot street style, your usual compact digital camera can be perfectly suitable for shooting sessions. When someone tells me, “Your camera is great, so your photos must be so good!”, I always tell them: a good photographer doesn’t need an expensive camera to take good photos and an expensive camera won’t make bad photographers’ photos good. So don’t feel deterred from shooting street style just because you don’t have a DSLR.

What if you do have a DSLR? Then, don’t hesitate to use it! It’s not just a matter of quality, but also of looking professional. Be visible! When you approach the person that you would like to photograph with a good DSLR in tow, that person might be more willing to collaborate because you will look more professional than using a compact camera (or a smart phone). In the past, I experienced it myself —  when I approached people with my camera clearly visible, they stopped more frequently than if I did it with my camera inside my bag.

Choosing the Location

You have your camera and you’re ready to start shooting your first street style session. But where? The location will depend mostly on the style you are looking for. If you live in a more or less large city, you’re probably aware that certain districts or neighborhoods are more alternative, some others are of the posh kind, some are trendier than others. When you choose to shoot in a certain area, you know to expect a certain fashion style in that region. So take advantage of that in order to make your photography closer to your own style or to the style of your blog. Also, get creative! Make ‘thematic weeks’ on a certain quarter’s style or a specific showcase, to demonstrate your readers the diversity of your city’s fashion.

Choosing a good location for your photography is very important. No matter what area you decide you shoot your photos in, I will give you a few tips to choose the best location.

  • The place must be relatively busy, so that you could have many passers-by to choose from. If you choose a lonely street, you will wait for hours and probably find nobody worth photographing. However, you don’t want the street to be very crowded either, because it won’t be easy to take photographs in the middle of a crowd.

  • Choosing a busy street with narrow pavement is not a good idea either, as every photographer needs to a frame a shot. You don’t want it to be too tight a space or too congested. Then, you won’t feel comfortable under these conditions. My rule of thumb for the perfect location is boulevards, pedestrian precincts and streets, squares, gardens and parks. Here you will have plenty of room to choose the best location where you feel the most comfortable.

  • A great background isn’t necessarily important for a good-quality street style photo, but there are a few things you have to keep in mind. First, make sure that there are objects obstructing the focus or the subject of your photo (i.e. a street lamp). It may seem obvious, but it’s so easy to forget in the spur of the moment! Secondly, if you’re shooting a photo with a wall as the background, the wall shouldn’t have a distracting pattern, so that it won’t draw the viewer’s eye away from the model’s outfit.

  • The location is vital but so it the time of the day. If you decide to shoot your street style photos in the morning, keep in mind that the light won’t be very good, unless it’s a cloudy day. Sunlight is very direct, so it will make too many shades. Daytime can be a fun time to shoot street style in the university area of your city: you will find students coming and going from one building to another all morning long, so it may be a great time to spot young stylish people. Shooting in the afternoon and evening has got many advantages, especially in the weekends, when people dress their best. However, especially in winter, when days are short, you might run out of sunlight soon, so your street style sessions can’t be as long as they would be in the morning. Adjust your shooting habits depending on the season and the weather!

Photo by Sara B.C.

Taking the Photo

As soon as you spot a person with an interesting outfit, don’t think twice and go for it. I have lost so many great chances just because I was too slow! Be confident, polite and professional. Approaching the person you want to photograph is probably the hardest thing for every street style photographer, but if you are confident, it won’t be a big deal. Approach that person politely and introduce yourself in a professional manner, but don’t forget to be flattering towards her/him. After all, the reason why you want to take a photo of someone is because you like the outfit or style. Everyone likes hearing how great they look and what awesome style they have! By the way, always ask for permission before taking a photo of someone. Posting a photo of a person on the internet without permission could get you into legal trouble, so don’t ever do it. You might also want to consider looking into model release forms to protect yourself and the blog or any other publications you might be involved in now or in the future. Give the subject or model you business cards to promote the blog and to let the person know where he or she will be able to locate the photo.

Now, to shoot your photographs, kneel down in front of the model, so the person will look much taller. Then, hold your camera in vertical position. Take photos of the whole outfit, but also pay attention to details, accessories, etc. You will have to adjust your position and posture for shots depending on the space, background, or look. Sometimes the smallest details are what make an outfit great! Shoot many more photos than what you think you need; of course, you won’t post them all, but you will have several photos to choose the best from them.

After you’ve finished shooting all the photos, you can ask your model a few questions to make a small profile, such as their favorite brands or designers, their style icon, etc. Of course, don’t forget to tell them about your blog and provide the url. A great idea is getting a business card done. They are very affordable, look professional, and they won’t get lost as frequently as if you gave out your blog’s address on a piece of paper.

Remember: the key to success is to be professional, confident and ambitious. Success won’t come easy, but you will see how you’re improving little by little every day. The bottom line is to enjoy your passion!

About the author: My name is Sara. I’m a translator and interpreter from English and French into Spanish and I live in Madrid, Spain, where I was born and raised. My hobbies include photography, travelling, literature, cinema, visual arts and performing arts. I guess saying also languages, fashion and writing would be too obvious, wouldn’t it?

5 Comments on Street Style Photography 101: What to Know when You’re a Beginner

  1. Monique
    May 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm (7 years ago)

    Great post!! I’ve been kind of nervous to go out and do this!!

  2. Queen in Heels
    June 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm (7 years ago)

    I take street style photos that I post every Friday. I also did a post with tips on how I approach people over on my site. Thankfully, I only take photos of the heels so, all the women I approach are willing and happy to have their photos taken.
    I also carry business/blog cards that I had printed just for when I am doing street style photography (very different from my business cards). I give these to the women and ask them to make sure to stop by and to spread the word. Sometimes, I pass out the totes I had printed for the blog, but since those are more expensive I save them for certain times.
    Great post.

  3. Jessy Nyiri
    April 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post and very helpful Sara!!
    I’ve been trying to find ways to improve my outfits pictures and it’s not easy when you’re 5’10”!!

  4. Maya
    June 26, 2014 at 12:20 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this informative and well-written post! It was so encouraging and helpful. I have a blog myself and have often wondered whether the pictures and camera are “good enough.” It’s so enlightening to realize that the art isn’t totally dependent on the camera. I will definitely be implementing these tips in the future 🙂

  5. Charlotte
    September 23, 2014 at 3:24 am (4 years ago)

    Great artikel! Just the ‘kick in the butt’ I needed to get started, as I wasn’t sure where to start 🙂 Like other people said, very encouraging and helpful


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