The photo shows a man about to light a cigar. It is night. This street photography is by Bastian Peter. Für Artikel: The Art of Street Portraiture: Techniques and Tips

The Art of Street Portraiture: Techniques and Tips

The photo shows a man about to light a cigar. It is night. This street photography is by Bastian Peter. Für Artikel: The Art of Street Portraiture: Techniques and Tips
Street portrait © Bastian Peter


Street photography is a compelling genre that combines the spontaneity of candid shots with the intimacy of human connection. A sub-genre within this realm, street portraiture, has the unique ability to capture a subject’s personality and emotions within the bustling environment of city life. This article will take you through a journey of techniques and tips to help you capture captivating street portraits that showcase the essence of your subjects while keeping your audience entertained and engaged.

Building Rapport with Your Subjects

A crucial aspect of street portraiture is establishing a connection with your subject. This relationship allows you to capture genuine expressions and emotions. Start by approaching your subject with a smile and ask for permission to take their portrait. This not only shows respect but also breaks the ice and establishes trust. Engage in small talk to make them feel comfortable and to learn more about their story. This information can help inform your composition and bring depth to the final image.

Camera Settings for Street Portraiture

To ensure you don’t miss a moment, it’s essential to have your camera settings dialed in for street portraiture. Here are some recommended settings:

  • Aperture: A wide aperture (f/1.8 – f/2.8) will create a shallow depth of field, drawing focus to your subject and blurring the background.
  • Shutter Speed: A fast shutter speed (1/200s – 1/500s) will freeze motion, ensuring sharp images in dynamic environments.
  • ISO: Keep the ISO low (100-400) for better image quality, and adjust as needed for lighting conditions.
  • Autofocus: Use continuous autofocus (AF-C or AI Servo) to track your subject’s movements and maintain focus.

Composition Techniques for Engaging Portraits:

  • Rule of Thirds: Place your subject along one of the vertical or horizontal lines that divide the frame into thirds for a well-balanced composition.
  • Leading Lines: Use natural lines, such as streets, sidewalks, or buildings, to guide the viewer’s eye towards your subject.
  • Framing: Utilize elements like doorways, windows, or arches to frame your subject and draw attention to them.
  • Juxtaposition: Place your subject next to contrasting elements, such as bright colors, patterns, or textures, to create visual interest.

Capture Emotion and Story

A captivating street portrait goes beyond a simple snapshot; it tells the subject’s story and conveys emotion. To achieve this, focus on facial expressions, body language, and the surrounding environment. Pay attention to the details that can add depth to your image, such as clothing, accessories, or the subject’s interaction with their surroundings.

Experiment with Different Perspectives

To make your street portraits stand out, try shooting from different angles and perspectives. Get down low, shoot from above, or try a close-up to create a unique and engaging portrait.


…with these techniques and tips in hand, you’ll be well on your way to capturing captivating street portraits that resonate with viewers. Remember to be respectful, build rapport with your subjects, and experiment with different approaches to create a diverse and engaging portfolio of street portraiture.

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