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Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 9 of 20

Know How to Present Yourself as a Photographer


Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 9 of 20

Know How to Present Yourself as a Photographer


Lesson Info

Know How to Present Yourself as a Photographer

This is hopefully pretty obvious except I thought we should address it and that is they try to be presentable I got a pretty bad example sitting here right now like totally unshaven has always like this though, so there's nothing I can do about that but you know, if you if you put together sloppy andi you're not taking respecting yourself there's very little chance I think that a stranger would believe that you would give them the respect that you know their image and their story deserves so it's a little thing but if you're perceived as you know, having self respect and trust, then I mean it's having self respect that it's more likely you'll get trust from the people that you're photographing. The other thing I wanted to say was this has happened a lot like photography is will dress up and go undercover I've seen people like dressed up is like mujahideen in afghanistan and I like going around I guess it works for some people I'd never, ever, ever, ever do it. I'm always the same excep...

t for one situation, which was when I went to the white house and I had to wear a suit, so normally I'm just wearing this on I don't dress up like I don't pretend to be mujahideen and I'd pretend to be homeless I don't pretend to be anything like I think that if you start dressing up trying to you know, I've seen I've seen photographers and reporters dress up like soldiers and they go out like they justify it in certain ways like they don't draw attention to themselves too like snipers or whatever, but I don't know I still just wear this with a bulletproof vest and I think that it adds to your integrity like you representing yourself for who you are and that's all you're not trying to enter the other person's group ppe on dress like them and be like them I also think that in difficult situations should you ever find yourself in them if you start dressing up and trying to hide like if you're in, you know, like burma under the under the counter, which is now mostly past you start dressing up like a monk and going on trying to be undercover if they catch you, you're screwed, you're going to jail if you go around looking like no, you normally do and you're not trying to hide anything there's much less suspicion that's actually put onto you yeah, so it turns out most of the white house photographers don't learn suit, so I didn't really need to wear a suit like they often just wear like trousers and a tucked in shirt and one of them always wears a tie, so I turned up in the suit knows, eh okay like no one else is wearing this but on the other hand I felt comfortable like I didn't feel comfortable meeting the president wearing jeans and a ship whereas I do feel like you know, I felt that that role demands a certain level of well I know that role demands a certain level of respect so I turned up wearing a suit I feel comfortable and that means I can work more easily I'm not constantly thinking like god damn it why did I wear jeans? This is so unprofessional so before I head out I always read over the pitch on the research file that I've written well sometimes bring it with me uh usually I'll leave it at home but I'll just read over that and make sure I'm familiar with everything I'm doing I checked for all of my things like I make sure that my batteries to charge by putting him into the camera only takes two minutes but it means that you won't have that disaster when you're in the field like our whole job in something you know zana's photographing strangers where you there's just so much that we can't account for that way you never know what's gonna happen right? You never know who you're going to meet you have to stack your odds that you're going to get a picture and you have to stack assad's by taking as many variables out as you possibly can when you're researching a story like let's say we're going to be photographing um I don't know um ah revolution taking place in a square, you know? You don't have to be at the revolution no one lot is going to be good you can go in honestly going google maps and look at where east and west is and find out where the lot is going to be nice you can know what time of day it's going to be best to be that by looking at tv coverage of when that square is filled with people, you could be there and you can make sure you can know that your camera's charged at all your spare batteries a charge you've got enough memory I don't turn up unprepared make sure you note pad is empty uh, make sure that you have the business cards um and whatever else you need to actually shoot like stack the odds in your favor, you can never guarantee your picture, but you can make it much more likely that if the chance you know we're arises, then you've got the best possible chances of making a great picture in that situation. Um, so next up is the embarrassing section for me um and that's pot three second three in which we're gonna have video of me talking to strangers a swell as screwing up occasionally

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!