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Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 15 of 20

Always Have a Street Photography Backup Plan

Ashley Gilbertson

Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Ashley Gilbertson

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Lesson Info

15. Always Have a Street Photography Backup Plan
What happens when everyone says no? In this lesson, Ashley suggests some alternative projects or backup plans when the original plan isn't working.

Lesson Info

Always Have a Street Photography Backup Plan

Okay when you get a little nose in a specific location you can try to shoot wide try teo incorporate the people in your photographs into a wider environment where you don't really need permission where they're not like super identifiable central in the frame you know, working in their personal space so I'm going to show an example of you know what we did city hold actually where we looked at sort of graphic elements and people working on walking within that graphic element sure she was pretty great so where I'm shooting around the place now I'm having trouble finding a lot of people so I found a spot that I'm noticing a lot of people are walking by and I love this bright red wall when I'm shooting that it's balancing actually out with a light outside perfectly so it's a really beautiful lighting situation it's graphically strong so most of my street photography and approaching strangers involves like you no interaction with people and discussing with them what I'm doing but then their ...

situations like this where it's just you know, visually powerful um so sometimes you just have to make whatever situation you're in work continues that's graphic sometimes it's emotional it's connected um sometimes just less so so there's a pretty good example of, you know, graphically strong frame I think right at least I hope we'll find out in the right clothes right where is everybody so one of the keys when you're shooting is looking for different elements in the frame so we've been waiting to someone tio you lean up against a wolf pass that red window and now I'm waiting for someone to walk in front of it at the same time and ideally I'd love somebody on the street walking by at the same time but we'll see if all of the different elements coming to play at the same time it's like so much of this is a waiting game finding a good frame and then shooting at least that's my style there's a lot of people who work in different ways where they'll be walking around and grabbing pictures always shoot but I'm more of ah uh I've been called a camper before uh so now we waiting for the right person in the right and walk through the frame making the right sort of body body motion whether it's stepping or their hands out just something interesting to happen. So that's what I talked about earlier um you need to learn your rights as a photographer about where you can and can't shoot what you can shoot what you can't shoot on dh then stand up for them like there are so many people who tell me that I can't shoot because they're having a permission or I can't be in this space because they haven't got permission and is not true I we usually into that conversation you know, with um with understanding and say actually that's not true the law stipulates that blah blah blah blah blah but occasionally doesn't end that well and like everybody ends up shouting I call the cops and then come down and so he's got like, full right to be here in person but you should think about you don't have to but I always think about the next person is going to be coming after me and shooting in that same spot make it a little bit easier for them if you give up because somebody's giving you a hard time even though you know you're allowed to be there and that person who's throwing that person out throwing you out today is going to have you know, even more fun throwing out the next person to turn up so I try to set a precedent for the next person by by saying like this is actually what the law states so I understand what your rights are where you're shooting um and you know how to operate within the law so can we do some some questions wear we go uh talk about what's coming up next? Um I really appreciate that last sentiment about giving us permission tio uh no what we do have the rights for because I think a lot of people you know will just kind of hold back so question is when you are out shooting have you ever run into a situation where the person gets upset and demands that you erase the photo? How do you handle a religion belligerent person per se belligerent? Um well, every belligerent person is different, right? Um in the past, I think I want to lead any pictures I don't do it any pictures to anybody treat my digital files as I trade film it's like, oh, it's a one way ticket once I shoot them, they're there don't delete stuff that's that's to be done by somebody else like, if I stop cheerleading stuff, I find that it's a slippery slope that's not editing in camera because like what's the difference it's a garbage frame that doesn't mean anything like today it's a garbage frame in ten years from now, it might be something that I'm looking for, you know, like um like the first and last frame of a roll of film, you know often has stuff that just looks totally bizarre, but it could be great you never know, so I want to lead any photographs for somebody who's like, pissed off that I'm taking pictures, I'll try to understand why they're so upset um and definite empathize, you know, like when I say empathize were talking of a lunch about what that actually means and, you know, empathy is making sure that people feel head, you know, sympathizing is saying that that sucks, that you feel that way. However, I'm not deleting pictures, I'm sorry, I'm a professional photographer. This is how it works. You're in a public space. I'm part of the contract that you are in. When you're in a public spaces, like you're being photographed, you're being photographed anyway. I'm working for a magazine I'm working for my

Class Description


  • Confidently approach strangers for street photography
  • Refine your eye for strong compositions
  • Choose the right gear for street photography
  • Tell a story through street photography
  • Write captions to accompany your work
  • Cull and edit your street photography images
  • Use street photography tips for building a career


Find the courage and skill to photograph strangers in public. Work with renowned street photographer Ashley Gilbertson to build both the confidence and skills necessary to succeed as a street photographer. Learn how to capture people moving through everyday life in artistic ways. Find out how to approach people in the street -- and how to photography anonymously in public places when everyone says no.

From understanding gear and the nuances of focal length to working as a documentary photographer in a public space, take your passion for street photography to the next level. This class isn't for beginners learning shutter speed and aperture for the first time -- it's for anyone that's ever wanted to work in street photography but struggles to build the courage to do so.

Watch behind-the-scenes videos following a real street photographer in action. Hear tales -- and see sample images -- of street photography across the United States and abroad, including major cities like New York and Chicago. Build captions and edit images with Photomechanic and Adobe Lightroom Live. Dive into an art form that reveals the complexity of human nature with Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers.


  • Intermediate photographers eager to try the street photography genre
  • Enthusiast photographers branching into documentary style photography
  • Advanced photographers struggling to come out of their shell to approach strangers

SOFTWARE USED: Adobe Lightroom 6.0


Australia born photographer Ashley Gilbertson is a well-respected documentary style artist that many consider among the best street photographers. From working on editorial shoots to personal projects, his work has earned him an Emmy nomination, the Robert Capa Gold Medal, and an American Society of Magazine Editors Ellie award. The street photographer is also the author of two photography books and a regular writer for publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Based in New York City, Ashley's work has been featured in major publications as well as museum and art galleries around the world. 



I have taken more than a few of the Creative Live courses. I have, in general, found all of them to be very good and I have learned something important from them all. Not always enough of exactly what I was looking for, but something useful and important. This course was absolutely amazing. The best I have taken. I would like to download it and see it again and again. Ashley's style was authentic, humble, yet confidence inspiring. The information he gave was focused and totally useful. He shared both philosophy and thinking as well as real tools to learn - whether they be soft stuff (like how to approach someone) or hard stuff (like gear and settings and such). I cannot recommend this class highly enough. If you want to learn to do "humanistic photography" (his term which resonated with me), this is best I have ever taken!


This was a terrific and wonderful class. Ash was superb. His stories were awe inspiring, his passion was evident and his ability to teach was flawless. I would take any other class by him and actually can't wait for more of the VII agency programs eminating from Ron's class during photo week 2015. A great great addition to Creative Live's orbit.


Wow, I loved this course - I watched the whole thing, and most of it twice, during the first run. Ash is is intriguing, a good teacher, honest. I found this class to be so inspirational. I especially loved his encouragement about talking to strangers, asking to take their picture- "what's the worst thing that could happen?" And the videos watching him in action were motivating- you saw him make connections but also saw him get rejected too, but he keeps such a positive outlook. Love this class, please more photojournalism!