Top 10 Things to do Before Street Photography (or, the top 10 mistakes I used to make)


stars and striped by Phillipe Han (phantasy)) on

(Inspired in part by Two Cute dogs‘ top 10 series.)

A lot of this may be familiar for the veterans, but for the new and upcoming shooters these tips have saved my life.

Here goes. Take them with a grain of salt.

1. Take a photo before you go out. Assuming you’re using digital of course. If you can take a picture correctly, it shows that the lens is attached correctly, that the battery is in, CF card is in, and the camera innards are working correctly.

2. If you’re using digital, pack 2 CF cards. This is to avoid complications if one CF card decides to bug out on you. This happened when I was shooting my Fuji X100 on a beach, where sand somehow got into the card. In fact, invest in a CF card holder while you’re at it.

3. If you’re using film, load your camera with 1 roll, and bring 2 others. I never shoot more than 3 rolls in one day, despite Winogrand’s tendency to shoot one roll a block. Unless you’re an investment banker, I seriously doubt you can afford to shoot more than 4 Tri-X films per day. In fact, since they’re almost a precious $5 a pop, you might as well invest in a Japan Camera Hunter film case while you’re at it.

4. If film, Decide B&W or color. If you’re bringing both, you haven’t thought this through. Quick rule of thumb- Monochrome is for the silence and sincerity of the subject, color is for atmosphere & loudness of color in the frame.

 Hurricane by Phillipe Han (phantasy)) on

5. Do not bring a camera bag. Unless you shoot flash, then I understand. I use a camera bag to store my equipment when I travel. Unless you have no jean/jacket/coat pockets/purse/man-purse to store film in, you have no excuse. Invest in a good strap. Trust me, you get weighed down after about 70 minutes of shooting. Water you say? Buy a bottle outside if you’re thirsty, for goodness sake. Which leads me to six…

6. 1 camera, 1 lens. At least for the purposes of street, I’m going to assume you’re going to be shooting until dinnertime (if yes, then okay, stuff in a f/1.4 lens somewhere for night shots). If so, one body, one lens is all you need. I’ve lost on average 2~3 shots while foolishly changing my lens from 50mm to 28mm, an idiot’s quick path to mediocrity. Landscape and commercial portrait photographers also know this very well, since every second counts.

7. Read. In the words of Jon Stewart, “Yeah go read a f**king book.” A street blog, a photo book, I don’t care. (don’t whine about photo books being expensive, libraries still exist). If you need suggestions check out this comprehensive list.

untitled by Phillipe Han (phantasy)) on

8. Meditate. Just kidding. Though it might heighten your sense of achievement, lol.

9. Decide on a subject, if possible. What are you going to shoot today? The color red? Halloween costumes? Feet? Ladders? The Mission in San Francisco?

10. Wear your sneakers. Or whatever comfortable shoes you have. No seriously, your feet are going to hurt after an hour of shooting.

I shall return for part 2- top 10 things to do during street photography. What are your top tips for before going out to shoot street photography?

Don’t forget to stay updated on facebook, twitter, or check out my most recent work on 500px.


4 thoughts on “Top 10 Things to do Before Street Photography (or, the top 10 mistakes I used to make)

  1. keeper

    Nice list. I’m not sure how much I agree with having to choose bw or color film. but for the most part this is sound advice

  2. My latest mistake – make sure the battery is fully charged. 😦
    It really sounds stupid, but when you go out frequently sometimes it can happen.
    I missed out the other day as the battery was dead.
    Have a second battery! I just bought one today.

    Other than that, I make sure to travel as light as possible. Basically just the camera and nothing else. Not even a bag if I can help it.

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