Top Tips for Street Photography in London

At Foto Ruta London we love all things street; walking down the street, eating on the street, street festivals, street life, street food... We even talk ‘Street’. But the street we love most, is our old pal Street Photography. London undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest locations for shooting street photography, which is why we launched Foto Ruta in London. Here are some useful tips we’ve learned along the way that will hopefully give you the confidence to get out there and shoot the city like a pro:

Explore off the Beaten Path

 Foto Ruta Image

Foto Ruta Image

Avoid the touristy spots when you're shooting – try to seek out  ‘real life’ scenes. London has an overwhelming array of neighborhoods, all offering vastly contrasting content and backdrops. Exploring off the beaten path will reap wonderful rewards.

Challenge the Status Quo

 Photo credit:  Live4Soccer 

Photo credit: Live4Soccer 

Shots which challenge the ‘norm’ in terms of composition and story/subject matter can be powerful. Look out for ‘surprising’ subject matter and composition. We call this ‘tension’. When you mix a bit of glamour with grit, the results can be impressive.

Be Bold. Be Brave.

 Photo credit:  Karin Viva

Photo credit: Karin Viva

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to get close to your subject – this can be a little intimidating  but will likely produce powerful images. In a big city, approaching your subject is easier than it feels. At Foto Ruta our clients are encouraged to get close…and then closer.. It takes time to build confidence but it’s worth it.

Colour or Black & White?

 Photo credit:  Sean McGrath

Photo credit: Sean McGrath

Whether you’re a traditionalist or a modernist, both Black and White and colour have their place in Street photography. Digital is free so try both and see which works best.

Travel Light

 Photo credit:  Edward Conde

Photo credit: Edward Conde

Keep equipment to a minimum. The best street photographers are minimalists, using small unobtrusive cameras (a Leica if you have a few thousand quid spare) and only one or two lenses.  Lugging around a whole range of lens and other pieces of equipment will only slow you down and very possibly stop you getting that last minute shot.

Get Another Perspective

 Foto Ruta Image

Foto Ruta Image

Experiment with different angles. Shoot from down low at street level, up high for a bird’s eye view or at an angle to create an alternative perspective  Street photography is a less formal medium so make the most out of it. Loose and fast is what we like to say, and slow when you have to be.

Watch Your Backgrounds

 Foto Ruta Image

Foto Ruta Image

Consider what is behind your subject. The background can make or break a street photograph. Billboards, signs, graffiti and other visual elements can really make a statement in a shot (as above). Equally, look-out for distractions that detract from the photo such as trees  coming out of people’s heads, distracting actions, and unwanted light.


Bring it into the Light

 Photo Credit:  'Practicalowl'

Photo Credit: 'Practicalowl'

Play with light. Shooting into the light is discouraged by traditionalists but street photography is all about breaking these ‘rules’.  In fact, break all of them. We encourage it.

Blend In

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Foto Ruta Image

Try to shoot unobtrusively and unnoticed. Or if this proves difficult, stay until people around seem to be comfortable with your presence.

Return Visit

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Foto Ruta Image

Street photography is not all about spontaneity – it’s also about patience. if you see a scene with potential don’t be afraid to keep coming back to it until you get the shot. Sometimes returning when the light is right can lead to your best shot.

Play with Camera Settings

 Photo credit:  Shereen M

Photo credit: Shereen M

At Foto Ruta we often encourage use of Manual mode, however many Street photographers like to shoot on automatic or Aperture priority so they can focus on capturing the moment rather than worrying about settings. Try both and see what fits the context in which you’re shooting

Life Through a Lens

 Foto Ruta Image

Foto Ruta Image

Exaggerating perspective will help set your subject in context and provide a more forgiving depth of field’ – use a wide angle lens (or even a fish-eye).