What makes a Great Street Photograph?

Have you ever wondered what makes a street photograph truly great? What is it about those captivating shots that evoke emotion and tell a story within a single frame? The answer lies in the art of capturing the essence of a fleeting moment in the chaos of the urban landscape. A great street photograph is not just visually striking; it has the power to transport the viewer into the hustle and bustle of city life, making them feel like a part of the narrative. In this blog, we will explore the elements that contribute to creating a memorable street photograph, from composition and timing to capturing raw emotions and unique perspectives. Get ready to dive into the world of street photography and discover what makes a photograph truly exceptional.

What Makes a Great Street Photograph?


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In a recent street photography workshop, I noticed that I might be creating false expectations for my followers on platforms like Instagram. I post frequently, so people assume that all my images are great. However, I explained to them that there’s a difference between casual sharing on social media and truly great images.

The Misconception of Expectations

Many beginner photographers feel the pressure to come home with a great image every time they go out shooting. However, this expectation is not always reasonable. Factors like lighting and subjects are beyond our control, and it’s the combination of these elements that make an image truly great.

Defining a Hit Rate

A hit rate represents the ratio of good images to the total number of photos taken in a given period. Some photographers consider a high hit rate as a mark of their talent. However, it’s essential to first define what makes a good street photograph before discussing hit rates.

Layers of Interest

My friend Joshua K Jackson shared with me the idea of building layers of interest in street photographs. By adding multiple layers, you can create stronger images. Let’s explore some possible layers of interest:

1. Aesthetics Layer

This layer includes elements like interesting exposure, light and shadow, compelling composition, and good color combinations. These technical and creative skills result in visually pleasing images.

2. Subject Layer

This layer focuses on capturing interesting people or objects that deserve attention. The subject serves as the base layer for building other elements in the image.

3. Moment Layer

The moment layer captures interesting actions or events in the frame. It adds another dimension to the subject layer, making the image more captivating.

The Importance of Multiple Layers

While each layer adds value to a street photograph on its own, combining multiple layers creates a stronger image. A photograph that incorporates interesting subjects, aesthetics, and moments is more likely to resonate with viewers.


Building multiple layers of interest in a street photograph is essential for creating truly great images. By understanding and incorporating aesthetics, subject, and moment layers, photographers can elevate their work and capture the essence of the streets.

FAQ: What makes a Great Street Photograph?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is street photography?

A: Street photography is a genre of photography that captures candid moments of everyday life in public places, usually in urban environments.

Q: What makes a street photograph great?

A: Several factors contribute to the greatness of a street photograph. These include:

  • Composition: A well-composed image with balanced elements and a clear focal point.
  • Emotion: The photograph should evoke emotions or tell a story, capturing the essence of the moment.
  • Moment: Timing is crucial in street photography. Capturing decisive moments or interesting interactions adds depth to the photograph.
  • Lighting: Appropriate use of lighting, shadows, and contrasts can enhance the visual impact of a street photograph.
  • Unique Perspective: Offering a fresh or unique perspective on familiar scenes can make a street photograph stand out.

Q: Are there any specific techniques for shooting great street photographs?

A: While street photography allows creative freedom, there are a few techniques you can employ to improve your chances of capturing great shots:

  • Be observant: Pay attention to your surroundings, anticipate interesting moments, and remain patient.
  • Use a prime lens: Many street photographers prefer using prime lenses for their speed, image quality, and compact size.
  • Shoot at a wide aperture: This allows for a shallow depth of field, isolating your subject and creating a visually pleasing blur in the background.
  • Develop your own style: Experiment with different approaches and techniques, finding what resonates with your vision and preferences.

Q: Can street photographs be staged?

A: Traditional street photography aims to capture candid moments without interfering or staging scenes. However, there are no specific rules, and some photographers may choose to stage or collaborate with their subjects creatively.

Q: Is it necessary to include people in street photographs?

A: While people are often a prominent element in street photography, it is not mandatory. Street photographs can focus on various aspects of the urban environment, such as architecture, street signs, or objects, depending on the intent and vision of the photographer.

I hope you find useful my article What makes a Great Street Photograph?, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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