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Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 17 of 20

How To Find The Right Caption For Your Photos


Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 17 of 20

How To Find The Right Caption For Your Photos


Lesson Info

How To Find The Right Caption For Your Photos

So in here we've got eleven hundred pictures which I shot of ah of two different to different chutes inside the folders the normal way that I would caption is I would select everything first uh different captioning programs work in different ways I would select everything first and I'll put in here um photographs from around seattle including and then some of the locations that I went to this is just my basic overall caption and for each for each grouping of pictures this will change again so you know, photographs around seattle including, um city whole plaza um kings county court um I don't know on da in an outdoor market um on november sixteen, two thousand fifteen um all right, so you copy that and put it on to all of your photographs and they would have that basic that basic caption there so even photographs that you miss when you're actually going through these by grouping they'll have it least that basic things on twenty years from now when you say I'm looking for that picture of...

the guy that I photographed outside the king's county court when you search king's county called in your computer it'll find this picture um so in a case like this like this on this situation with the with the red background I would find the beginning of that okay, so this is real I always messed us up so some editing programs do this automatically and you can set a preference but your photographs if you've done if you've set the date on the back of your camera correct thing the capture time should make older the photographs actually run after each other the file name like I've got two different cameras that eh he's right? So one cod will ingest first the second card will ingest second so in this situation I might have a whole bunch of red pictures in the top and then a whole bunch of red pictures in the middle because they're from two different cards when I saw it by capture time there on top of each other it's all the same time that I'm shooting so that's how it's easiest to captioning group so I find the end of this grouping and then I select all of those so there's one hundred eighty from that okay, so again I would go in and do a batch caption uh what if we got photographs around seattle including city hall plaza? So people will past a past red windows in at city hall plaza um in seattle, washington on november sixteen, two thousand fifteen um at this point I would stop putting in my name you should always put your name in your pictures always always always if that's the only thing you're gonna do and you don't want to do this what I'm talking about here definitely put your name in because as soon as you upload your pictures onto the web somewhere whether it's you know whether it's flicker with return your facebook page the t I p t c or the metadata that information stays inside the photograph so some dude in an advertising agency or if some editor at the magazine finds your picture is like this is great then he or she confined your name and then find a way to contact you through this information it also protects your copyright a cz much as you possibly can in a pretty difficult time protecting copyrights um okay, I would apply that to all of these photographs on dh then move on to the move on to the next one. So the next grouping is brian and michelle outside of the courthouse I stopped from the beginning of that one and then write a new caption for that so brian tannehill forty eight mystery michelle on duel I felt that wrongs this is there's no b they're um when you're writing this from your note pad transcribing information so outside of seattle court building in washington on november sixteen, two thousand fifteen, mr hat tannehill is the famous subject of a mary ellen mark image of two young boys holding a forty five calibre pistol he said he was attending a court hearing in an attempt to file a suit for defamation so you're looking it's a basic rule of journalism it's who, what? Why, when and where? The only thing that we can pull back on a little bit of photographers all of those aki accept why I always have why, but my captions is sometimes three or four hundred words long, which I think you know in some cases a too long except it's all pertinent information like to me, I'm telling stories so along caption actually adds a lot to the photograph. The photograph should be strong by itself without the long caption, but the long caption should add context on dh information so if you want to add why I've absolutely strongly you know, I think that you should, but a lot of people just don't want to do is take it's time consuming, so you go through this process for every single picture that you have, like here's a picture of some dude carrying a window uh, so I would say right welcome carries a window and a frame into a building in seattle, washington on november sixteen each pick each different grouping of pictures that you have in here like this lady carrying you started the beginning look all the way through to the siri's end of the series and you caption, huh? We didn't have her name, so a woman carries a child back in chinatown um so as far as your archive goes this is key you know this information is searchable you keep it in a manageable practice usually by by month on dh by country is what I do uh and then all of the file names unique which makes it a lot easier to search for. So once you've written basic captions for all of those things it takes a couple of hours if you've been shooting all day like you're gonna be in front of a computer for a couple of hours and it sucks I'm not gonna lie but you will absolutely be so grateful in time that you've done this um once I've gone through all of the pictures I will close photo mechanic goingto latte room um and this is where we actually start editing yeah and this was actually from jane leela so when you're going through doing that captioning how do you make sure that you're applying the right name to the right person? I know you've been taking notes but do you right down like markers for that actually I always write you know brian tannehill brown brown workmen jacket I will write down you know, all this identifying information about the person that I'm photographing lady in red dress with glasses off you know a man in brown jacket outside courthouse locations anything identifiable that the person but again that's one of the reasons that it's important to do it on the day because if you look at that information two months from now, like who? What? Well, I'm confused and that's when you start making mistakes. So it's, really in the past, this was a lot harder than what it is. Now. I think that in the past, we were more prone to mistakes, because we just have the note pads in the film, and eventually they sort of come together. And, you know, normally it was pretty good, except sometimes you'd mess it up. Now, being over do this on the night of is a pretty great thing.

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. 


  1. Class Introduction

    Start this street photography workshop with one of the most frequently asked questions: how do you photograph strangers? Meet your instructor and dip your toes into the world of street photography in the introduction lesson. Learn what to expect in the first lesson.

  2. What Do You Mean by Photographing Strangers?

    In many cases, street photographers photograph first in the decisive moment, then talk to the person in the photograph afterward. In this lesson, Ashley explains when he introduces himself first, and when he waits.

  3. Why Photograph Strangers?

    Carrying a camera gives you permission to be curious, to meet new people. See why strangers make such great photography subjects. Gain insight into how Ashley gets strangers to open up about their vulnerabilities.

  4. The Psychology of a Street Photographer

    Can you be a street photographer and an introvert? Learn how Ashley become extroverted for the sake of street photography and how to get out of your own shell. Work to build the confidence to approach strangers by looking at the worst case scenario and imagining how you would feel if the roles were reversed.

  5. Establishing Trust When Photographing

    Ashley says that trust is essential to successful street photography. Gain insightful tips to start building trust with potential photo subjects, whether you are working with them for one image or working with them for months. Learn how to confront your own fears and build trust with subjects.

  6. Decide on a Story to Tell Through Photos

    Begin the segment on the pre-shot process with a look at storytelling through street photography. Work through the process of determining what story to tell, from finding what you are passionate about to working for a specific cause. Just be sure, he says, to be open to changing your opinion as you work. Find inspiration from some of Ashley's past projects.

  7. How To Tell Your Story Through Photos

    Some stories try to change the world, others just celebrate the beauty and fun of it. Dig into researching the location, narratives, and existing work on a potential story. Learn how to build and pitch a photo essay, including a sample pitch.

  8. The Gear You Need For Street Photography

    Gear matters in street photography -- but perhaps not the way you think it is. A good street photography camera, whether film or digital camera, is simply a tool that helps you get the job done, whether that's a fancy Leica or an inexpensive camera and a prime lens or two. Ashley says, however, that you should know your camera inside and out. Street photographers also need to consider the conditions, traveling, and whether or not you need to be discrete when choosing gear.

  9. Know How to Present Yourself as a Photographer

    Perception goes with trust -- including what you wear and how you present yourself. In this brief lesson, gain tips on presenting yourself as a street photographer.

  10. Observe Your Shoot Location

    Scouting out the location helps prepare for a successful shot. Observing the location helps street photographers find the best light. Learn what to look for when scouting out a location.

  11. Where is Street Photography?

    Street photography doesn't require a street. Ashley explains how any public or semi-public location is fair game for street photography. Find insight into additional spaces to shoot besides just outdoors on the streets.

  12. How to Approach Your Subject

    Street photographers can approach subjects in three main ways. Work through each situation to interact with the subject while keeping the interactions unposed. Ashley also shares insight about getting a variety of angles to increase the chances of getting good shots with the right perspective. Go behind the scenes and watch Ashley interact with real subjects in Seattle.

  13. Ways to Connect with Your Subject

    Talk through ways to connect with your subject and how men and women may have different experiences in street photographer. Watch a behind-the-scenes video showing how Ashley talks with subjects. Learn why being at ease and comfortable is key.

  14. What to Do When People Say No to Photographs

    Not everyone will say yes to having their photo taken -- so what happens then? Ashley suggests not taking no personally and moving on to other photo subjects. In this lesson, learn how to capture photos of bystanders in ways that don't require a name.

  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.

  16. What to do When You've Finished Shooting

    The post-shoot workflow includes captioning and initial editing -- often on the same day as the shot. Ashley suggests writing down captions while it's still fresh in your mind, instead of waiting for the next day. Learn how to organize and cull your images.

  17. How To Find The Right Caption For Your Photos

    Documentary style photography isn't complete without a caption. Build a caption for your work in this lesson, from a generic caption for large batches of images, to captioning individual images.

  18. The Street Photography Editing Process

    Work through a three-step culling process for street photography. Start with culling photos in Adobe Lightroom using a star system, then continue narrowing down the frames.

  19. Toning Your Photos For Maximum Impact

    Street photography's journalism roots means editing should be minimal. Walk through the process of adjusting the tones in the image from maximum impact using Adobe Lightroom. Work with photos shot in previous lessons during this live editing session.

  20. Career Tips For Street Photography

    How do street photographers profit from their work? In this lesson, Ashley talks about the state of the industry, the different types of assignments, and how to approach street photography as a career.



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!