Critique Wanted Mentor me a little please: Street Photography


Hi everyone,

Some of you may recall that a while ago I asked the question "what is street photography?" (see here

After taking into consideration the discussion from the above thread, I went out and about and did a little practice - I observed peoples behaviours on the street and tried to train my eye a little, but most importantly I think I've gotten more comfortable using my DSLR on the street :)

So far I think this is one of my better attempts:


Improvised Drumming by VinceChu89, on Flickr

If anyone's interested here's my description from my flickr:
This drummer seemed like he was having the time of his life drumming on the streets of Manchester.

He sat their improvising on his improvised drum kit, made from pots, pans, and buckets with concrete/stones in them.


Occasionally he threw up a drum stick, drummed single handedly then caught his drum stick and continued two handedly with a smile. He knew he was good and oozed confidence :)

(shadow of my friend watching in the corner)

I'd really appreciate some C&C :)

So far I think:

1. Can't help but think that I should have caught him a little more off guard - he seems a little distracted/aware of my prescence?

2. A slower shutter speed to show his hand movements more - he kinda looks static?

PS - I've got more photos to share later (not necessarily street)


Hall of Famer
Perth, Western Australia
Bill Shinnick
An interesting subject to start with Vince and agree it looks a bit static or posed for 'street'. The image lacks punch and contains a very light background with the shop window not adding any thing despite context - he's in the street. Similarly there is extensive shaded area in the right third which also adds nothing. The effect of these two areas is to flatten and broaden the histogram away from the bell shape. I would try a tighter crop and then some levels or curves on the histogram. There is also the classic 'fall-back' to mono.


Super Moderator Emeritus
I won't comment on this as street photography since it's not my thing but more generally I would go along with Bill.

Crop out the right hand side - there's nothing there - and maybe look at it more as a portrait form. Some PP as Bill suggested might give it a little more impact.
More generally I think you're right that it would be better if he were paying attention to his drumming rather than paying attention to you. That might just be a matter of hanging around - and making your financial contribution in advance! You mentioned in your Flickr comment that he would throw one stick in the air and continue drumming one handed then catch the falling stick. This might have been the moment to aim for - get down lower and wait for the stick to go in the air, heading out of the frame above. This would give the image a more dynamic nature and it would something to the upper part of the frame where the empty shop window isn't really doing much.

Just my thoughts for what their worth.


NYC metro are
Good start, Vince.

This is a discipline of photography not for the faint of heart. You need to get in real close to your subject(s), becoming both observer AND participant in the moment. Like any craft, it takes practice, practice, and practice. You just have to be out there, all the time. After a while, you'll start to -- intuitively -- see stories and scenarios developing before your eyes, not to mention individual little moments, where narrative and formal visual elements all fall into place.

Also, it helps (in your continued visual education) to look at others' works. Study what they do; their style, approach, formal visual language, irony, story-telling, relationship to subjects, etc. If at all possible, look through books, not just websites. There's no substitute for leafing through real pages in a narrative fashion. Go to museum and gallery shows that exhibit this genre, and look.

Some photographers to look at, in no particular order:

Henri Cartier-Bresson
William Klein
Willy Ronis
Alfred Eisenstaedt
Robert Frank
Robert Doisneau
Walker Evans (especially his NYC subway series)
Bruce Davidson
Jeff Wall
Anders Pedersen
Martin Parr
Garry Winogrand (all-time master of human irony)

These, among many others, will get you started with the visual language.



Administrator Emeritus
Philly, Pa
You have good responses so far.
I'll give you a few of my thoughts.
Street is more about you and how you see/connect to the environment you are in at any given point in time. Your sensibilities, sensitivities, passion etc will all come into play or they won't.
It's not just about a certain subject matter but more how you relate to that subject matter.

Your best work will be the images you make on an intuitive level. If your concentrating on photography, gear etc.... you may get a decent snapshot but that's about the best you'll get. That's not what you want.

A major stumbling block is, preconceptions implanted in your brain. You get input from shooters, images, words, books etc. You can't get past these things but you can find a work around. A good way to do this is to establish themes in your work.
Something like this...... Icons, Faces, Bodies, Legs, Shadows, Homeless. What you try to do is to get your images that relate to a particular theme grouped together. When your out working, you can never get bored because you have so many things to work on.
After sometime, you will notice that certain things keep popping up in images that turn you on. These are the things your looking for. It's the root of what you do.

You break preconceptions by recognizing the fact that everything has been done already but not yet, not by you. You start to find your identity in your work.
Every great shooter does this. Every great shooter ever has done this. There is no other way to find yourself.

If you are not seeing yourself in your images, what are you seeing? If the viewer isn't seeing you in your images, what are they seeing?

The best way is to work hard, but only work when you are completely conscious of what you are doing.

This is not some esoteric metaphysical scientific rite of passage. It's about finding your self in your work. Then you find the work inside of yourself.
The viewer will then see you in your work....

How do you see the world Vince...... Insert your images here.......


Hall of Famer
Brisbane, Australia
I guess it depends on why you want to take street images, and what you define as street images. Are there particular types of street images you've seen that you like? That will give you a good starting point of what to look for.

I can take images on the street, but I don't always classify them as street as per my own definition, even if they do contain people within the frame. To be honest I prefer this more urban style of photography which tends to be more environmental, but there is some crossover between the two genres. I don't think that street images have to be completely candid shots of people, but I do think that they should tell their own (human) story without accompanying words. That story may be interpreted differently depending on the viewer, but the fact that you've triggered a response shows that the image has worked.

There are street images, there are good images, and there are good street images. Just head out onto the street, concentrate on trying to achieve the second, and a few of them are bound to fall into the third category.


Hello Vince,

I have a photographer to add to the formidable list you've been provided with. Doesn't get enough credit for his contributions. I'm sure Don is familiar with his work.

He coined the phrase "The Naked City" in reference to NYC, and was responsible in great part for the "film Noir look" of the 1950's.

Arthur Fellig, who went by the name Weegee. Took his nick name from the (popular at that time) Ouija board. People felt he had a sixth sense for being the first on the crime scene.. often arriving before the NYPD.

An interesting guy, with an interesting story. Here's one of his which appeared in many newspaper.. (public domain)

Children asleep. From Tenement Penthouse.

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Thank you so much everyone, there's so much food for thought here! Unfortunately I've had a busy few days (even though my exams have finished :'( ) and its 5am here so I need to get some shut-eye.

Tomorrow I'll have more time to digest everything and promise to get around to replies.

But wow, what and overwhelming response - thank you all so much - grouphug? :D