Attitude And Street Photography

It’s no secret that we feed off of each others attitudes, if your significant other/cat is excited when you get home you get excited too.  If your bestie is in a bad mood when you hang out you tend to be in a bad mood as well.  The same can be said for Street Photographers.  If you walk around with a grimace on your face you’re fighting an uphill battle, people don’t want to be photographed by The Grouch.

Try a small experiment next time you walk down the street, you’ll need a bunsen burner, a couple of test tubes, and a beaker…  Just kidding, all you need is your glistening smile.  Unless you’re a dude;  Your smile should not glisten, if it does then you need to stop using your girlfriends chap-stick.  Next time you’re walking down the street smile at a complete stranger, if they aren’t a jerk they will smile back.  If someone smiles at you it’s hard not to smile back.  The same can be said for our attitudes as Street Photographers.  If we approach a subject in a disarming way with a smile they are likely to mirror your actions, it’s almost a reflex.

Caution – Some people have a creepy “I want to touch you” smile, ask a friend if your smile is creepy before you apply this technique to your Street Photography.


When I’m on the streets with my camera I try to keep a neutral expression and always smile at people who notice me with my camera.  Nine times out of ten they’ll actually strike a pose or approach me to ask me what I’m up to in a friendly way…  Granted, this is not ideal for my style of candid Street Photography but if they are looking at me then I’ve already lost the candid moment so why not have some fun.

This all seems fairly obvious right?  Wrong.  You’d be surprised how often I run into other Street Photographers with a “don’t even look at me” look on their face.  I’m sure they don’t feel that way, they are probably just nervous and when we are nervous we tend to get a little defensive in posture and attitude.  Fight the urge look through people and make eye contact with a confident smile, like you are supposed to be there, and they will respond in a positive way.

What is your attitude like when you are out and about with your camera?  Is it an attitude that draws people to you like in the images above or do people try to avoid you because you look like you’ll murder them if they get too close?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.