How To Compose Your Street Photography Like A Painter

Jul 6, 2017

Vijce

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How To Compose Your Street Photography Like A Painter

Jul 6, 2017

Vijce

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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You may have heard that photography is also referred to as “painting with light”. However, would you consider yourself a light painter so far? If not, let’s change that real quick to massively improve your street photography composition!

The difference between photographers and painters is that painters add elementsand photographers reduce them. When you hit the streets, your “canvas” is already filled with all sorts of elements on the street: subjects, sceneries, cars, trash bins, billboards, street lights, people in the background and so on. Your challenge is to kick as many unimportant elements out of your frame as possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbI2W0N4vHc

Do you see how the famous painter Edward Hopper only put the most important elements in his painting? Nothing is distracting you from that gorgeous lady.

Summertime by Edward Hopper | 1943

4 WAYS TO REDUCE DISTRACTING ELEMENTS

  • Always capture only1 subject, 1 couple or 1 group of people
  • Compose your street photos in a way that distracting elements don’t show up in your frame
  • Find a scenery that is less crowded
  • Crop out “noise” as much as possible

You can see the importance and power of reduction in the following 4 examples. You can see how I made progress over time in getting rid of unimportant and distracting elements.

1) STREET PHOTO WITH LOTS OF DISTRACTING ELEMENTS

Untitled by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

This is one of my earliest street photos from back in the day. The subjects are supposed to be the elderly couple on the right half.

Do you see how the distracting elements in the background ruin the photo. There are two people on the far right, a woman eating next to the old man, another woman behind her, a woman on the far left and many people in the background.

2) STREET PHOTO WITH A FEW DISTRACTING ELEMENTS

A Promise Kept by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

A while later, I tried to capture a couple again. As you can see, the scenery is much more reduced. However, there is one guy right next to the woman, a couple talking on the far left and the streetcar on the right.

As you can see, I also improved my post-processing by using a vignette and split-toning in Lightroom.

3) STREET PHOTO WITH 1 DISTRACTING ELEMENT

One Night In Amsterdam by Vijce | Amsterdam, 2015

I captured this golden moment a few years later. The couple not only pops out due to great natural contrasts, there is also a lot less distraction.

There is only one couple in the background that’s barely noticeable. However, it’s still something that shouldn’t be in the frame.

4) STREET PHOTO WITHOUT DISTRACTING ELEMENTS

Snowflakes and Butterflies by Vijce | Thuine, 2015

Do you see how there is nothing distracting from the couple? You notice the couple with the dog immediately. The fence, light and trees in the background serve as a beautiful scenery.

In terms of post processing, I increased the clarity for the snow and used split toning to achieve the intense colors.

READY TO PAINT WITH LIGHT?

At first, it’s quite a challenge to squeeze everything unessential out of the frame. However, you’ll quickly see massive results with a bit of practice!

Always ask yourself with every element of your photo why it’s in there. That way you’ll reflect your photos more and compose more thoroughly.

…and never forget: Your most important gear is your eye, heart and soul!

Mask Of Society by Vijce | Düsseldorf, 2013

About the Author

Vijce is an award-winning fine-art street photographer and coach based in Amsterdam. His label Eye, Heart & Soul empowers fine art street photographers worldwide. Make sure to check out his street photography workshops and connect with EHS on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook to level up your street photography game! This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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One response to “How To Compose Your Street Photography Like A Painter”

  1. Debajyoti Biswas Avatar
    Debajyoti Biswas

    GREAT. KEEP UP THE WONDERFUL WORK.