Street photography

Street photography features chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Although there is a difference between street and candid photography, it is usually subtle with most street photography being candid in nature and some candid photography being classifiable as street photography. Street photography does not have to include a street or even the urban environment. Although people usually feature directly, street photography can be absent of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character.

The street photographer can be seen as an extension of the flâneur, an observer of the streets (who was often a writer or artist). Framing and timing can be key aspects of the craft with the aim of some street photography being to create images at a decisive or poignant moment. 

Street photography can focus on people and their behaviour in public, thereby also recording people’s history. This motivation entails having also to navigate or negotiate changing expectations and laws of privacy, security and property. In this respect the street photographer is similar to social documentary photographers or photojournalists who also work in public places, but with the aim of capturing newsworthy events. The existence of services like Google Street View, recording public space at a massive scale, and the burgeoning trend of selfies, further complicate ethical issues reflected in attitudes to street photography. 

Much of what is regarded as definitive street photography was made in the era spanning the end of the 19th century through to the late 1970s, a period which saw the emergence of portable cameras that enabled candid photography in public places.


The street photographs I have included here were taken in streets and bars in Dubrovnik. I enjoyed watching the other tourists enjoying their food and drinks, while listening to what they were doing on their holidays… cruising, wine tasting and enjoying the beautiful old town. However, I did feel uncomfortable taking their photos. I didn’t ask for permission because I wanted the photos to be candid rather than posed. This could raise ethical issues, especially where I wasn’t in a public place. It could also have been a health and safety issue if anybody had not liked having their photo taken! There were few other health and safety considerations, although I had to be careful not to trip over anything when I was taking photos while walking down the street and, when I was sitting at a table, I had to be careful not to knock my drink over. I also had to be mindful of people around me because it was quite busy.

The photos were all taken in dim light because it was a rainy day. I increased the ISO to 1600, which generally doesn’t produce too much noise with my camera, and used a wide aperture of f2.8 to maximise the light entering the camera (and give a shallow depth of field with a nice blurred background). Using aperture setting, the camera selected appropriate shutter speeds for correct exposure. These ended up being between 1/15 and 1/100 second. Some of these speeds are quite slow considering I was holding the camera and didn’t have a tripod, but the images are fairly sharp and I’m quite pleased with them. I used my 60 mm lens (120 mm full frame equivalent), which means the people in the photos look as though they were closer than they actually were. I also like the shallow depth of field I can get with this lens. 


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