Capture the Pulse of Your City: Intro to Street Photography | Garry Bowden | Skillshare

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Capture the Pulse of Your City: Intro to Street Photography

teacher avatar Garry Bowden

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

3 Lessons (13m)
    • 1. How to Choose and Approach a Subject

    • 2. How to get an Authentic Portrait

    • 3. How to Showcase Your Work

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About This Class


Street photography is an amazing way to see the world in a different light. When you go out on the streets to take pictures your senses become heightened because everything is potential art. You become more observant and aware of the beauty that exist all around you.

This class is for anyone who wants to develop their photography skills while exploring their city and getting to know it and it's residents on a deeper level. You'll leave this class with more confidence, a higher level of technological skill, and the resources to engage anyone you see on the street.

This class is project-based. Your project will be shooting great street portraits in your city. 

In this class we'll go over...

  • Works of master street photographers for inspiration
  • How to approach a subject
  • How to find the right background and create your own aesthetic
  • How to converse with the person and get a story
  • How to find an audience for your work (social media)

Another great benefit of this class is being able to converse with photographers from around the world. It's very easy to get stuck in a rut of your own perspective, this class will connect you with artists in different cities with unique visions that you can view for inspiration. You'll also have the opportunity for Photo Critique + Q&A with fellow students. 


  • Review photo projects
  • Get peer feedback
  • Answer any questions

Since the skills we'll be mastering are mostly about how to connect with people and compose beautiful scenes, any digital camera will do. I suggest digital over film because you can upload your pictures immediately to share with everyone.

Meet Your Teacher

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Garry Bowden


Garry is a photgrapher and filmmaker residing in San Francisco.

Garry has been walking the streets since 2011 photographing + interviewing the cities residents for his project Souls of San Francisco. His work has been featured several magazines and blogs like the Huffington Post, Image Source, and Atlanta Magazine.

He released Volume 1 of the project in early 2013 and is working on Volume 2 which is scheduled for release in late 2013.

See full profile

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1. How to Choose and Approach a Subject: - all right. - How you doing, - Everybody? - My name is Gary about it. - I'm teaching you guys what I know about street photography. - Um, - so what I wanted to go over with you first is how you approach subject when you're getting - ready to go out street. - Um, - so there are two types of tree photography, - and one is candid. - Shots on the other is when you stop the person and engage with him, - which to me is more interesting because, - I mean, - can't access to me always seem a little bit creepy, - just like taking your camera and shooting people. - So I prefer to stop people and ask them and get to know them. - And as you can see all of my portrait, - that's how they're done with that connection that you can feel, - Um So if you're going to do it that way, - I mean, - if you're gonna do a candidly, - then you don't really need instructions. - You just take your camera and you shoot every you want. - But if you're going to show to connect with people, - there's a few things need to dio. - First, - you need Teoh have some sort of ritual Before you take pictures. - It brings you down to a calm level because what people are responding to when you're asking - to take their picture is your energy. - Right? - So, - um, - friends and I almost always drink tea before I go out and take pictures. - Um, - it's a soothing process. - It makes me chill. - So when I go on approach people, - you know it's with the good energy and get flow. - Um, - I wouldn't like drink a bunch of coffee and then be like, - Hey, - what's up? - Take your picture. - So that's first of all. - I mean, - whatever ritual is good for you does not to be drinking tea, - but you can decide what that is for you. - Um, - and then I just go to a neighborhood and start walking around, - and I'm not really in a hurry. - So I just look at people. - CE looks interesting. - Whether there it's the clothing or just like the energy they bring Teoh persona weather out - and just look people in the eyes, - you know, - people in a hurry. - I don't usually bother to stop them because you're already like breaking something that - they're going to do. - So it's probably not gonna be a good portrait. - Um, - but if they're people that look like they're willing to be approached, - especially when you make eye contact with them and you have that that moment, - then you know, - I just compliment them, - and I picked the people that are, - you know, - genuinely interesting to me, - some of that. - It's a sincere compliment. - So someone has a cool hat on are pretty eyes. - Then I just say that I'm like, - you have really pretty eyes and wait for them to acknowledge that compliment in there, - saying like Thank you and you're like, - you know, - can I take a picture of you? - Usually that's all you need. - You know, - I used to try to explain the project, - and then I was a photographer trying to do this block. - But essentially, - what you're doing, - if you start talking about that, - is you're making the interaction about yourself when you compliment someone you're making - about them, - which is also putting the media's because you're a stranger and you're seemingly just - approaching them because you like something about, - um, - so really, - that's all you do to put somebody's, - you know, - strong at contact. - I'm engaged in the conversation, - compliment them. - Take the picture Now, - if you're going to be doing a blawg like I'm doing. - You want to get some sort of human interaction, - Then you can take your question and continue it from why you originally stopped. - You know, - like something about their clothes you could be like, - Are you into fashion? - Are, - um you have they have a dog with them? - You can make conversation about that. - Are you gonna have pre made questions? - You know, - whether you want to ask about current events like the other day? - The gay marriage act just passed in San Francisco. - So that was a good thing to engage people about, - but it's really just up to you. - Um, - all the other stuff is up to you. - The main thing you need to know is become send people get energy, - compliment then and respect their space. - All right, - let's start there. - Excited to see what you guys come up with this week. - Take care 2. How to get an Authentic Portrait: Okay, so there are a couple of things I wanted to share. I'm about approaching people, and once you're engaged with them, we've already gone over at approach people. Once you're engaged with them, Some things to think about. Um, so I have friends since ever can, And 70 with the 50 millimeter lens I take. My porch is pretty close. So for me, the key to getting a good portrait is getting an authentic representation of who that person is. So the first picture may not be the best money. You kind of have to establish a report with that person and do it very quickly. So after you've complimented them, which, um, shook with the mid eighties, you know, if it's sincere, um, I usually take a series of pictures and the 1st 1 I try to do, you know, roughly from 6 to 8 feet away. And that's about how far I am when I start talking to them and I let them know Good, I'm gonna take two or three, and I'm gonna get progressively closer. So when I finally get up to them, you know, and take a portrait, um, they know it's coming right So if you were just to ask if you could take a portrait and take your camera and stick it in their face, that's probably gonna make them uncomfortable, and they're gonna have it uncomfortable Look on their face. But if you can start with one far away and then take another one here and then take another one here, they're ready for it. They know it's coming. Eso that way you get like a more authentic expression, which is really nice. Another thing I want to tell you guys about Waas backgrounds. So how do you choose the right background? Um, that's up to you, but you don't always have to choose a person when you're walking around. Sometimes you can choose a background and stand there and wait for a person who looks interesting to come walk in front, and that's an easy way to engage them. You say, I've been waiting here to take a picture of someone in front of this background, and I'd really like to take your picture. Do you mind? An easy way to do that is if it's a mural or something, and it has a lot of yellow in it and the person has, like a yellow shirt. Are you know, even a pink shirt? You could just tell them. I think that your clothes would contrast really, really well with, you know, the background out here. And usually that's a good enough reason. Um, so that's just another way to go about doing it. You know, you can do it by walking around and approaching people directly. Or you can do it by finding a place that you really like, and then waiting for the right person to come. Both are excellent ways to create great porches. Um, so those are a couple ideas, So, Yeah, I'm excited to see what you guys come up with on your own. Give those two things a try. 3. How to Showcase Your Work: - Okay, - So now that you have your pictures, - what do you do with? - Well, - obviously you do whatever photo editing that you do and whatever program we use, - I personally used light room. - Um, - you can use I photo if you don't have light room. - There's a 30 day free trial you can download from the adobe website on, - but it's really easy to use. - I've never been a photo shop guy. - It's always been too complicated, - but, - um, - check that out or whatever you're comfortable with. - Um, - the next step is Heidi, - connect your work to an audience. - Um, - so me, - personally, - I set up several sites on Facebook, - Tumbler, - instagram, - and that's a lot. - So if you only want to pick one of those, - I think Facebook is probably the easiest thing to do. - That way you can direct people to your Facebook page after you take the picture. - Um, - with a card, - you get cards made. - These are my cards for my project, - with a picture and just direction about where they can go to find the pictures. - So if you do it to Facebook, - then people will find their picture and hopefully attack themselves. - And when they tag themselves in it, - then their friends and their whole network will see your portrait and your project, - right? - So that's not only are you getting the person you took were getting their whole network. - That's a good way to draw people to your project. - So you can do that with Instagram. - Also, - because Instagram is now has ways you could tag people. - Also, - I don't think you can do that with Tumbler. - Um, - all the tumbler is good for getting stuff shared, - but to give things shared the most quickly, - I think you want to have it so people can show your word to their friends, - and that way they can find you through that easy network. - So Facebook is part of the best suggestion. - You go and create a page like my product is sold the San Francisco So it's just facebook - dot com slash little San Francisco. - You could make yours whatever you want it to be for your city are your nature, - whatever you're focusing on, - and then you upload your pictures there. - Another thing to do when you're uploading pictures is to constantly update the content, - so I try to go out and take pictures every day. - I know that's not possible for everyone. - So someone may go out and take, - you know, - 5 10 pictures in one day, - right? - Um, - and as opposed to going on Facebook and posting all of those pictures at once, - what you can do is is Q those pictures out. - Tumbler has his option. - And now Facebook has it also, - which means you can choose when to post your pictures. - So if you want to keep people constantly engaged, - you have to have constantly updated content. - So, - for instance, - I post my pictures at 11 a.m. every day. - I used to post several a day, - have a mini I took 35 27 But I found it's much better to be consistent. - So on that block, - I'm now post one picture every day at 11 a.m. That gives me the luxury to maybe take five - pictures and then I've got five days, - you know, - paste out that way, - if you get backed up, - you have some cushion. - So what you're doing with that constant posting is building a river, - and that consistent rhythm is what helps you are site to grow the fastest. - Um, - obviously you could do a website also just like a standard website. - But, - um, - that's not it doesn't grow as quickly like on a website. - There is generally not anything that's counting. - The amount of people that have visited are like your page are Arthur is it's not the same - thing is what's on Facebook. - You know, - when people see that a lot of people like your page or a lot of people like a picture of - them, - then that makes them excited and more enthusiastic about sharing your site and getting it - out there. - So those are some general things to think about. - Um, - if you want to do multiple mediums like I said with Facebook Instagram, - our Twitter tumblr usually linked those things across. - But the more things you want to set up, - obviously more work. - You gonna have to do so if you're just starting out. - I was just starting with Facebook, - and then if you feel like you get a hold of that and have a good rhythm that you get - started, - then you can start to think about other things. - Um, - I'm excited. - Look at your pictures. - If you have any questions, - are you want to do some feedback. - We can do that in a in class are alive. - Workshop, - questionnaire session. - But I just wanted to give you some general information on how to start a blogger and had a - drop traffic to it. - So I hope that's a good start for you guys. - And you have any questions? - Feel free to ask me. - All right, - talk to guess in.