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5 tips for staying invisible while shooting street photography

One of the keys for successful street photography is to be as much of a fly on the wall as possible. When shooting strangers on the streets, awkward situations can arise, especially if someone doesn’t want their photo taken. But there are ways to ease this awkwardness, or avoid it entirely.

To share a few tips on how to be as inconspicuous as possible, street photographer Eric Kim has created and shared a 13-minute video. In it, he breaks down five tips he’s learned that help him to stay invisible when shooting street photography.

Related: How a pioneer of street photography helped shape the way we take images today

Each of the five tips Kim shares come with personal anecdotes that help explain how and why they work. Below, we’ll give a brief synopsis of the five tips:

  • Click, pause, move on – If you ever get caught taking a photo of someone and they look a bit salty or concerned, pause. Keep your eye in the viewfinder and move the camera around, as though you’re looking to compose another photograph. Your subject will be less likely to think it was them you were singling out.
  • Click, take a step closer, click, repeat – Rather than immediately jumping into the face of your subject, start out a little farther back and take one photo at a time as you move in. Not only does this fill the frame with your subject more, it also makes sure you have multiple photos before the person might ask you to stop.
  • Don’t make eye contact – This one is fairly straightforward. Less eye contact means less awkward confrontations.
  • Pretend like you’re shooting something behind them – Similar to tip number one, make it look like you’re shooting something other than the person or scene you’re actually shooting. Hold your eye to the viewfinder a bit more and pan around the scene.
  • Pretend you’re recording a video – People are less likely to think you’re taking a photo of only them if you look like a tourist capturing video.

For more context on each of these tips, be sure to watch the full video by Kim. You can find his work on his website and subscribe to his YouTube channel.