Tips For Shooting Street Portraits Of Strangers

Choosing a Focal Length

One of the most important skills that every photographer must have is knowing how to choose the right lens and focal length required by the shot.

In my opinion, the best street photography lenses are 35mm and 50mm primes – not too wide and not too telephoto. These lenses usually produce the most flattering images of people, unlike wide-angle lenses that create significant distortions that most people aren’t fans of. 

Think About the Background

When taking a street portrait, the first thing I will think about is the background and situation. Does the subject look good how they are or will you want to move them to have the correct background?

Do you want to get close and frame their face tight and forget any background, do you want to use a shallow depth of field to create separation, or is the background very interesting and do you want it as a prominent element?

All of these choices are valid and depend on the moment, but I’ll often try both. Sometimes I’ll start further back capturing more of the background, and then I’ll switch it up and get closer or try a shallower depth of field. It’s usually a good idea to give yourself options.

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