Urban photography by Brad Evans

Staking out a place to shoot

December 4th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized


One of the problems shooting street pix is dealing with background clutter – it’s everywhere. That, and shooting in harsh mid-day light are what diminishes so many street photos. One shooting alternative is to find a strong uncluttered background and shoot at a time when there’s nice light – usually in the late afternoon.  And then stake the spot out letting interesting people walk into your frame for some candid snaps.

That happened yesterday while I was killing time walking up Market and finding an interesting window display at the Anthropologie store between Powell and Stockton. The light was great – nice shadows with shafts of late afternoon light casting warm highlights on peoples’ faces walking by. The window display was good because it was simple  with just two large objects. And it was unique with the polar bears offering a humorous juxtaposition to people walking by. I stuck around a half hour and took a couple dozen snaps looking for people that stood out. They might be carrying big purses, shopping bags, boxes, running, wearing large sunglasses, in mid-stride, or are dressed a little out of the ordinary. Anyone of those with an interesting background can stir the imagination for narrative.

Of the pix snapped, I like the one above the best. The light is nice, the shadows are deep, and there’s something about the eye contact set against the playful bears that draws me in. And for me, arrangements of three objects creates interest.


  1. 2 Responses to “Staking out a place to shoot”

  2. By Donald Kinney on Dec 4, 2009

    Interesting photo lesson about finding the background first and letting the scene happen…
    Also, I can see how three objects play off each other — interesting…

  3. By Luis on Dec 8, 2009

    Really appreciate the tip here. I like the idea, but I’m held back by the local paranoia: I get caught shooting towards a shop or store window and immediately get approached by security personnel. Though I don’t think it’s legally grounded, I have no interest in getting a scuffle with these guys. I sure would like to try it in a rural Mexican setting. Thanks again for the mini –but valuable– guide here.

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