a woman is standing in front of a window.

Breaking the Rules: Creative Techniques in Street Photography

Want to push the boundaries with your street photography? Venture into the wild world of rule-breaking and creative experimentation with these bold tips.

Hey there, rule breakers! Are you tired of playing it safe in the world of street photography?

Maybe you’ve mastered the basics and are itching to shake things up a bit?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this juicy article, we’re going to explore some wild, unconventional, and downright rule-breaking techniques to breathe new life into your street photography game.

Because, let’s face it, sometimes the best way to grow as an artist is to throw caution to the wind and dive headfirst into the uncharted waters of experimentation.

We’ll be covering a bunch of creative techniques that’ll challenge you to rethink the “rules” of street photography, from embracing motion blur and playing with light and shadow, to turning compositions on their head and venturing into the world of abstract imagery.

So, grab your camera, open your mind, and get ready to break some rules, bend some conventions, and unleash your creativity!

The streets are calling, and it’s time to answer with some experimental, rule-defying awesomeness.

Let’s do this!

1. Embracing Motion Blur

a man swimming in a pool with his shadow on the wall.

© Polly Rusyn

Alright, let’s kick off our rule-breaking journey with some good ol’ motion blur.

Yep, you heard me right—we’re embracing the blur.

Instead of striving for those tack-sharp images, let’s add a dash of movement and energy to our street photography by playing with motion blur.

Trust me, it’ll be fun. Being in focus is so last season!

Panning to convey speed

First up, let’s talk panning.

This technique involves moving your camera in sync with a moving subject while using a slower shutter speed.

The result? A sharp subject against a beautifully blurred background that screams “speed”!

So, next time you spot a cyclist whizzing by or a skateboarder doing their thing, give panning a whirl and watch the magic happen.

Slow shutter speeds for artistic effect

Ready to get even more adventurous?

Try using slow shutter speeds to intentionally blur everything in your frame.

This technique can add an air of mystery and timelessness to your street shots, making them feel like fleeting memories or dreamy impressions of the world.

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Deliberate camera movement for abstract results

Feeling extra bold? Then let’s get abstract!

By deliberately moving your camera during exposure, you can create some seriously mind-bending images.

Swirl it, twist it, or shake it – there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

Just let your inner artist take the wheel and see where the blur takes you.

So, that’s three ways to embrace motion blur in your street photography. Give them a try, and you just might fall in love with the beauty of the blur.

2. Experimenting with Light and Shadow

a shadow of a man standing in front of a cement wall.

© Polly Rusyn

Now that we’ve gotten our hands dirty with some motion blur, let’s dive into the world of light and shadow!

Instead of playing it safe with well-lit, evenly-exposed shots, let’s crank up the drama and take our street photography to the next level by experimenting with high contrast, bold silhouettes, and moody scenes.

High contrast for maximum impact

Ready to make your images really pop? Then it’s time to embrace high contrast!

Look for scenes with a mix of bright highlights and deep shadows, and don’t be afraid to let those shadows go black.

By emphasizing contrast, you’ll create eye-catching, dramatic images that’ll stop viewers in their tracks.

Silhouettes for striking simplicity

Who doesn’t love a good silhouette?

There’s something about the simplicity and mystery of a silhouette that can make a street photo truly captivating.

So, instead of shying away from backlighting, use it to your advantage!

Position your subject between your camera and a strong light source, and let their shape tell the story.

Embracing moody and low-light scenes

Lastly, let’s talk mood.

Sure, golden hour might be every photographer’s favorite time to shoot, but don’t discount the magic of low-light scenes.

Embrace the grit and atmosphere of dimly lit streets, and use them to add depth and emotion to your images.

So, there you have three ways to experiment with light and shadow in your street photography.

Give these techniques a go, and watch your images take on a whole new dimension of drama and emotion.

3. Unconventional Compositions

We’ve covered motion blur and played with light and shadow, so what’s next on our rule-breaking spree?

That’s right, we’re going to turn our attention to composition!

Instead of sticking to the tried-and-tested rules like the Rule of Thirds or leading lines, let’s get a little wild and funky with our framing.

Buckle up, because it’s time to shake things up!

Get up close and personal

You know what they say – the closer, the better!

So, why not ditch the comfort zone and get up close and personal with your subjects?

By filling the frame with your subject or even cropping in tight, you can create images that are intimate and intense.

Play with negative space

Ready to embrace the void?

Negative space can be a powerful compositional tool, especially when used unconventionally.

Try creating images that are dominated by empty space, with your subject occupying just a small part of the frame.

You might be surprised by the impact that a little emptiness can have!

Embrace the chaos

Lastly, let’s give a big, warm hug to chaos.

Instead of striving for clean, perfectly composed images, embrace the messiness of the street and create images that are complex, dynamic, and full of energy.

So, there you have three ways to break free from conventional composition and inject some serious creativity into your street photography.

Don’t be afraid to bend the rules and explore new ways of seeing the world. You never know what amazing images might emerge!

4. Mastering Double Exposures

a man and a woman standing on a bridge.

© Polly Rusyn

Hold onto your hats, because it’s time to dive into the magical world of double exposures!

This technique might seem daunting at first, but trust me, it’s an exhilarating way to break the rules and create some truly mesmerizing images.

For some purist street photographers this is a no-no… But it’s fun to play.

Ready to let your inner experimentalist run wild? Let’s do this!

What’s a double exposure?

First things first, let’s define double exposures: simply put, it’s the art of layering two images on top of each other to create a single, composite photograph.

The results can be surreal, dreamlike, and just plain stunning.

In-camera vs. post-processing

You’ve got two ways to create double exposures: in-camera or during post-processing.

Some cameras have a built-in multiple exposure mode that lets you shoot and layer images on the fly.

If your camera doesn’t have this feature, don’t fret!

You can still create double exposures using editing software like Photoshop.

But always come clean if you have ventured into Photoshop or created a double exposure in your camera – don’t try and pass your photo off as a straight-up street shot.

Tips for double exposure success

Ready to give double exposures a whirl? Here are a few tips to get you going:

  1. Start with simple subjects: Try using silhouettes or objects with clean lines for a striking effect.
  2. Experiment with textures: Layering images with different textures can add depth and intrigue to your composition.
  3. Play with opacity: When combining images in post-processing, adjust the opacity of each layer to control the intensity of the effect.

So, there you have it – a crash course in double exposures!

Give this technique a shot and let your imagination run wild.

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5. Going Abstract

a reflection of a building in a mirror.

© Polly Rusyn

Alright, rule-breakers, it’s time to unleash your inner Picasso and dive into the world of abstract street photography!

This creative approach is all about shifting your focus from literal representation to visual expression.

So, let’s toss out those rules and explore the abstract side of street photography. Are you ready?

What is abstract street photography?

Abstract street photography is all about capturing the essence of a scene through color, shape, texture, and pattern, rather than focusing on specific subjects or recognizable elements.

It’s a fantastic way to unleash your creativity and look at your surroundings in a whole new light.

Tips for creating abstract images:

  1. Look for patterns and repetition: Seek out interesting patterns, whether they’re found in architecture, shadows, or even people moving through the scene.
  2. Embrace color: Bold, vibrant colors can make a powerful impact in abstract images. Keep an eye out for striking color combinations.
  3. Get up close and personal: Zoom in on details or use a macro lens to explore textures and reveal the hidden beauty in everyday objects.
  4. Experiment with reflections: These are like “natural” double exposures and you can have some fun juxtaposing and layering different elements.

So, what are you waiting for?

It’s time to let your creative juices flow and embrace the abstract side of street photography.


a reflection of a man on the side of a building.

© Polly Rusyn

And there you have it, my street photography rebels!

We’ve ventured into the wild world of rule-breaking and creative experimentation, proving that sometimes, to make truly unforgettable images, you gotta toss that rule book out the window.

From embracing motion blur and playing with light and shadow, to turning compositions upside down and mastering double exposures, we’ve opened up a whole new realm of photographic possibilities.

But remember, the key to nailing these experimental photography techniques is practice, practice, and more practice.

So, get out there, trust your instincts, and let your creativity run wild.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because that’s where the real magic happens.

When you push the boundaries of what’s “normal” or “expected” in street photography, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of unique and captivating images.

In the end, what’s most important is that you find your own voice and style, and have a blast while doing it.

So, grab your camera, hit the streets, and let your imagination run free.

Who knows? You might just create your next masterpiece while breaking all the rules.

Happy shooting, renegades!

P.s. If you enjoyed this post, you might like to check out this guide to storytelling in street photography.

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