Building Confidence

How to Overcome Shyness While Shooting Street Photography


Peter Pickering

4/28/20242 min read

Stepping into street photography can feel like stepping onto a stage. The streets are bustling, the moments are fleeting, and everyone seems to be watching when you raise your camera. It's totally normal to feel a bit shy or nervous at first, but with a few tips and a bit of practice, you'll find your groove and gain the confidence you need to capture those candid, compelling shots. Here’s how to get comfortable with your camera and your surroundings.

Start Small: If the thought of pointing your camera at strangers makes you sweat, start with less intimidating subjects. Urban landscapes, interesting architecture, and street art are all fantastic subjects that can help you get used to shooting in public without the added pressure of photographing people.

Blend In: Sometimes, feeling confident is as much about your mindset as it is about your actions. Dress in a way that doesn’t stand out too much and consider using smaller, less conspicuous equipment if possible. The less you feel like you stick out, the easier it will be to relax and take photos freely.

Practice People Watching: Spend time observing people without your camera. Notice how most people are too wrapped up in their own worlds to notice what’s going around them. Once you realise that people generally aren’t paying attention to you, it becomes easier to photograph them without feeling intrusive.

Use a Long Lens: Initially, using a longer lens can help you capture street scenes from a distance, reducing the anxiety of getting caught snapping a photo. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually start using shorter lenses, which often require getting a bit closer to your subjects.

Know Your Rights and Be Respectful: Understanding the laws regarding photography in public places can give you a big confidence boost. Make sure you know your rights, but also respect the privacy and feelings of the people you photograph. If someone seems uncomfortable, it’s always a good idea to respect their wishes and not take their picture.

Shoot with Friends: There’s safety and confidence in numbers. Go out shooting with a friend or join a local photography group. This not only makes the experience less intimidating but also more enjoyable. You can learn from each other, and having company can make you feel less conspicuous.

Keep Practicing: Like any skill, confidence in street photography comes with practice. The more you shoot, the more natural it will feel. Over time, you’ll find that your initial apprehension turns into excitement as you start to capture the dynamic human elements that make street photography so rewarding.

Remember, every street photographer started somewhere, and many of them had to overcome their own shyness too. Keep pushing your boundaries at your own pace, and soon you’ll find that what once felt daunting is now exhilarating!

© Peter Pickering 2024.