How to shoot candid street photography 

Since I’ve started shooting street photography, I’ve always used to shoot it candidly, without asking for permission (expect a few staged photographs).

For me candid street photography is one of the most difficult genre because I need to be fast and at the same time don’t disturb the scene, and I must have courage to talk with people if I get noticed.

Why do I shot candidly?

Southern Italy, 2016

I shot candidly not because it’s a rule imposed by most of the street photography masters but because I lack of courage to ask people for permission and because the best thing about candid street photography is the sense of spontaneity, photos tend to look more real (I don’t think that candid street photos are better than street photos shot with permission. It’s just another way to shoot street photography).

About etichs

Cottbus, Germany 2016

Ethics in street photography is a difficult thing especially when it comes to shoot candid street photography because the subject doesn’t know that I’m shooting it and because there are different laws in all the countries.

I’ve always asked me if it is right to shoot people candidly and realized that from a law perspective it isn’t right to publish a photograph of people without their permission (without model release), maybe it’s this thing that sometimes stops me to take photographs. At the end what I think is that until I’m shooting in public places, I’ve the right to take photographs of people.

4 ways how to shoot candid street photography

1. Shot with a smartphone

Nicolai PT-face-southern-italy-2017
Southern Italy, 2017

Smartphones are everywhere in our society. Everybody owns and walks with a smartphone so it’s easy to be unnoticed while shooting street photography with it.

There are different techniques on how to shoot candid street photography with a smartphone:

  1. pretending that I’m taking a selfie while in reality my camera is pointed on the other side.
  2. I look constantly at my phone’s screen, walk slowly and point my phone everywhere pretending I’m taking a video while in reality I’m taking photographs
  3. looking at the screen and seem like a lost tourist that is checking Google maps and point my phone at eye level 
  4. shooting from the hip holding my camera at waist-level and shooting without looking at it, in this way people will not assume that I’m shooting them.

2. Find an interesting background, and wait for people to enter

Southern Italy, 2018

Also called the ‘fishing technique’ is looking for a good background, and waiting for the right person to enter into the scene. When someone intersting enter the frame I shot, to not get noticed, I assume that I’m taking photographs of something behind my subject (the background).

With this technique I don’t make eye contact with the subject so I can get near without being noticed. While, if I make eye contact with the subject he will assume that I’m taking his photograph.

3. Shot in a very crowded area

Southern Italy, 2017

I shoot most of the time in a small town, so it’s obvious that I’m making photos of people because there are few people walking.

Rather, to not get noticed, I try to go to the most crowded area of the town, the downtown area or, when I’ve the opportunity, I go in a city near my town.

Shooting in crowded areas it’s the easiest way to disappear in the crowd and also look like a tourist.

4. Carry my camera/phone in my hands

Figueres, Spain 2017

By taking always my phone in my hands when I’m on the streets I don’t make sudden movements by taking my phone from my pocket. If I want to take a photograph of someone, by moving my camera too quickly from my pocket I risk to be noticed. Instead, by always carry my phone on my hands people won’t note my movements and I can shoot candidly.


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