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Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 11 of 20

Where is Street Photography?


Street Photography: The Art of Photographing Strangers

Lesson 11 of 20

Where is Street Photography?


Lesson Info

Where is Street Photography?

I think we should clarify what street aware street photography actually is because it's it seems that a lot of us might consider just to be on the street but it's not extreme photography is really anywhere like any semi public or public environment when I say semi public it could be you know like these sort of public spaces that they build in you know the corporations have to build into buildings when they make a space so you can sort of shooting there until somebody tells you otherwise and then you can fight a little bit maybe get a couple frames off until you get thrown out um but so street photography is really like truly public areas it could be the beach it could be uh park it could be even in games like football games um even music festivals you know it's based around the street but the street is I think sort of a code for in public it's anywhere the public is gathering so I try to explore you know what I'm doing this to try to explore other opportunities other than just like peo...

ple on sidewalks you know, people inside walk is great but you know you might get bored of that o r you know it's good to have visual range and your picture's particular few doing a profile of a city like seattle and you're trying to create you know, many documentary about what the place looks like you're definitely gonna want to go inside and outside look att places I train stations or markets whatever else he might find like this compaq's allover the place that apparently get filled with people tailgating which is why I mentioned earlier on game days just the trip to me um so so um yeah like one of the things that I learned early on when we think those taught early on was apparently the geographic photographers would be very keen on photographing first thing in the morning until about nine o'clock and then again in the afternoons from you know, for until sunset but in the middle of the day when the light was really harsh and a lot of these places they would work inside so it's good in your notes to have different locations where you can actually work on dh you know, find great lighting situations and powerful you know, picture opportunities and if you're working in some place like I don't know amnesia and it's the middle of summer and it's midday no one's gonna be outside because it's just steaming hot but you know, in the early very very early in the morning and late late in the afternoon it's busier outside that's great so take all of that into account while you're shooting, we hear union station where where hopefully we're gonna find a bunch of people sort of in transit or waiting for buses or trains it's a pretty normal place to come any city that you know working as a street photographer you're looking for areas that attract people so transportation hubs well that could be often sketchy this one seems pretty nice um they always attract a little people which makes an interesting place to try to photograph on meet strangers I think it's a street photographer it's important to say that you know, photographing any sort of public space is a really good thing some spaces and more public than others like you get thrown off a lot of areas but what I generally do is work until I'm told I can't so it's always better with security and police to ask permission or teo basically get permission as your access is getting smaller and smaller so don't ask wait until you're told that you can't work um but then of course when you actually photographing the people this is what we're going to explore here I think different situations call for different approaches there's times that were going teo work as you know, work up to people and into their space without actually asking verbally for commission but it could be looking through the eyes making eye contact it could be saying hello and then continuing to work sometimes you know, I think I have seen some of the earlier clips you actually engaged before you even start shooting so we'll see how we go here so always ready uh this was the on the other patch to just print was on the patch of the second asia in iraq which I loved it was like it was like the grown up version of be prepared um so this just means um like what I was looking at before how you're always setting your camera as you're entering and exiting different situations and that the like the book of five rings idea of the sword becomes no sword that thought becomes no thought that you're just acting you know, acting on instinct you know, photography street photography I think needs to be instinctual where you're listening you know, to your heart you're listening and you're responding to things as you go rather than you know, looking at something to analytically which is which has its place for sure I think that that sort of analytical thinking comes into place when you arrive into into a scenario and you're looking at where might work but once you've identified areas you go in there and just let it go you know, be in the moment and start working the situation and seeing what's happening um I always clean my equipment and check everything before I start working um so I think that's what this is so always before I shoot I checked both of my cameras have exactly the same dates on times so that when I'm ingesting the photographs the photographs will actually come up according to capture time and using two different cameras, the photographs will be in in sequential order as to when I shot them. S o I've got these new york time, and then this camera has a function that allows me to create local time, someone local time for seattle, which is right, and then this one is the same thing, so they're both in line and then I've always been taught going up that no matter how clean your camera's, looking to clean them every day, these were brought up in this kind of weird samurai tradition. Um, where they talk about the idea of cleaning your swords and making sure that soldier shop because a blunt sword is useless. So it's the same thing with your cameras, you have to make sure that they're always clean in orderto make sure that you're shooting shop and they're working, so that doesn't have to go through them with a toothbrush, but definitely make sure your lenses or at least clean I'm some reason my lenses are always filthy. Uh, and then the last thing I do is check the light on dh see what I need to shoot out so today's super over cost, so I'm gonna shoot it eight hundred. Um, normally, if it's sunny, I'd be it like one hundred or two hundred. And then, as it gets darker and darker, I can usually go up to sixteen or thirty two hundred. That's it eight hundred, which is good on dh. So is this one. So we're good to go.

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!