Street Photography Tip – Composition

Street Photography Tip – Composition is the number one aspect that separates a snapshot from a memorable photo. Digital photography is very forgiving and so much can be repaired in post-processing. Except for composition! It’s one method of upping your odds in street photography.


There is much emphasis in street photography as being an activity where you have to chase the shot! But that’s only one way to do it. If you’ve been on aphoto tour or workshop with me you’ve likely witnessed me stopping everyone to look at a red wall or repetitive patterns or shadows. . . Look for that thing that really attracts your eye. Then wait for people to enter the frame! In New York City or other cities with a good population you won’t have to wait for long for someone to enter your frame. Like it or not! Patience is a virtue.

Anyway, I call it slow photography. That may seem contradictory for some when it comes to street photography or even being in the middle of the buzz of millions of people. Try it. You might like it.

From Issue 2 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe here.

LES with shadows

There are so many ways to shoot street photography and photography in general. And so many ways to process photos as well. The thing that really caught my eye here are the shadows and light. There’s also something about the symmetry of it all and the fire escape above. Then there are the people walking in opposite directions and no eye contact between each other. A glimpse of LES in the afternoon. 2 April 2017 on photo tour with a class from Australia.LES with shadows

On Lafayette Street

Training the eye to see in frames, in composition is something that I guess I take for granted. I don’t know how I started to see in frames or even when I did. It is an ever ongoing process. My eyes, my vision is always searching for new ways to see and capture things. I could say that it is rather an automatic process. Like a runner, running. That said, not all days are equal. Some are certainly better than others. I like to call it synchronicity when I find myself in the right place at the right time. And maybe it’s also called making my luck. For that reason it is good to be patient and to move slowly and attempt to really soak in my surroundings. In my workshops we always look at different ways to see things and different ways to compose a shot. Composition is typically the thing that will make or break a shot. The aspect that will give it a lasting effect. – On Lafayette Street, 9 April 2017.on Lafayette Street

Rainy Manhattan

The weather on any given day provides the color palette for a photo. If there isn’t enough color or too much color I might choose to process in b&w. There’s a certain kind of light on a rainy day that is quite nice. Photography is a process for me which always holds a bit of surprise. When I see the photos I will decide how they should be processed. I like both b&w and color though I definitely lean towards having a better appreciation for black and white photography. Regardless, rain and umbrellas are fabulous for photography. Manhattan

The Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City is one of the most well known buildings in the city. I have photographed it many times and I’m always looking for new ways to photograph things. To do it differently. I used to think that it was important to capture the whole building. Photography has changed for me over time and I am constantly redefining what works for me. This photo was taken 10 April 2017 during a photo tourThe Guggenheim

The Spirit of Chinatown

Capturing a photograph that embodies the spirit of the place that you’re in is for me always my goal. Street photography has at least 2 elements to it. The spirit of place and the human element. To be able to get both of those in a single frame is a real bonus. In my last post I talked about patience. And in the majority of the photos that really capture both of these elements, patience is the biggest factor. I typically start with composition. With a background that speaks to me for whatever reason. Be it shadows, repetitive patterns or even a building to name a few things. Then hurry up and wait as the saying goes! This photo was taken during the Chinatown Street Photography Workshop on 2 April 2017. I have a number of workshops and private photo tours where we explore many different neighborhoods in New York City while working on different photographic techniques, including street photography.spirit of Chinatown.jpg

Number 5 – Slow Photography

When we go out shooting street photography in workshops or photo tours I always like to start with composition. To find a background  that has appeal. And there are many possibilities. It is too easy to want to move quickly in this fast paced city. I like to find either shadows or light, street art or repetitive patterns or even advertisements as a background AND then wait for people to come into the frame. Perhaps we could call it slow photography. To take your time and wait for the shot. I always tailor tour and workshops to the interests of each individual to help them find and achieve those things. To find your style. number 5.jpg