How to Avoid Taking Boring Street Portraits

I recently joined a street portraits group on Facebook, and without wanting to be overly critical of other photographers’ work, I’ve found a good 90% of the images posted extremely boring and unimaginative (when they actually hit the brief, which is rare). Pictures taken on long lenses with no engagement with the subject; the camera pointed randomly at the street, shooting normal looking people behaving normally with no real subject or point of interest; paparazzi/stalker-style shots as the photographer is scared to approach people; boring shots converted to B&W in the hope they’ll appear more interesting; the list goes on.

Street portraiture is probably my favourite type of photography – I’ve been published for it and have another whole website dedicated to it – and whilst I’m no expert or professional, I like to think I’m half decent at it at least. So here are my tips to avoid boring street portraits and to make more compelling and intimate images.

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“Nothing to Do But Take Photos & Drink Beer”: A Street Photography Workshop in Tokyo

As with everything else, Covid-19 did its best to mess up my Tokyo travel plans. I was going there to see the mighty New Order, but they’d cancelled a week previously after Japan banned all public gatherings for two weeks to try to halt the spread of the virus. ‘Regret’ indeed. But I’d booked a non-refundable flight and a hotel with an onsen and so, not being particularly afraid of catching a cold, I decided to go anyway, and following a mostly empty flight from Don Mueang, I found myself at an equally quiet Narita Airport on Saturday morning.

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8 Tips for Better Asian Market Photography

Asian markets have long been a popular draw for photographers, particularly street & travel photographers. It’s easy to see why – they’re a riot of colour, shape, and activity, full of people who are too busy working to worry about that weirdo pointing a camera at them.

And yet a lot of the market photography we see online tends to be samey and cliched – piles of fruit, smiling stallholders (a staple of any photographer’s visit to a market in SE Asia in particular), price tags etc. I spend a lot of time shooting in the markets of Bangkok with my photo walk clients, and always try to get shots that are a bit different to the norm. Here are my tips for making sure your next market shoot produces the goods!

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Railway Cuttings – The Hairdressers of Hualamphong

Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station is a veritable mecca for photographers, with its combination of historic architecture, beautiful light that changes by the hour, and colourful crowds of people coming & going.

On my last visit I saw a row of men sitting in chairs getting haircuts behind platform 12, took a few photos, and assumed it was probably a one-off charity thing. But I went back to the station yesterday and saw it was happening again, so I asked one of the hairdressers what was happening.

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It’s Monk Time! Bangkok’s Vietnamese Novices

Quang Ngo was 14 when, after seeing the respect accorded to a monk who visited his village in rural Vietnam, he decided the monastic life was for him, and went to live in his local temple shortly after. Quang Thang was 16 when he saw a monk caring for people at his local hospital in Hue, and likewise decided that that was what he wanted to do with his life.

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