Beginner's Guide To Urban Photography

Urban photography is a very broad genre. Some people associate it with cityscapes, buildings and architecture, whereas others may think of it more as ‘street photography’ in which you capture shots of people going about their everyday lives. To be honest, I think all these fall into the spectrum of urban photography. It is what you make it, and it's about being creative with your shots whilst out exploring these urban environments.

Although some people feel a little uneasy at first to be taking photos out in the public eye, (I know that I certainly did when out exploring urban jungles trying to find the perfect shots, yet you have people looking at you) but if photography is something you really love, it is always good to branch out and try something new, to push your photography skills and abilities to different levels and experiment with different angles and perspectives...don’t be put off by the people around you and in turn, interrupting your creative flair. Once you start capturing awesome shots, you’ll look back and wonder why you even felt awkward at all!

Where To Start?

Not sure where to begin with urban photography? Then maybe research some urban photographers before heading out, for some inspiration. Take a look at their work and things they are capturing to give you some ideas on what YOU can focus on as you explore and start to capture. Think about the objects they are photographing, the angles they approach, their perspectives, whether they are capturing their shots in the day or at night time. Thinking about all these different things should give you some inspiration on getting started with your own urban photography and how you wish to approach it. Once you have some sort of idea of what you wish to capture, then head out and get practising!

Start Snapping…

When starting out with urban photography, you may want to think about experimenting with different cameras, to begin with, to see what works better for you. Some people prefer to use classic film with manual film cameras, whereas others have a preference for using digital cameras. Either way, we recommend using something that is a little smaller in size for easier use and transportation, but yet again, each to their own. It’s what you’re comfortable with using (and carrying), and what you figure helps capture the style of shots that you are after.

You may want to think about a camera with an LCD screen, and taking into consideration shooting speed, aperture and the lens’ focal length too as these are all important factors. You may also want to consider using a camera with interchangeable lenses….think about the desired effect you are after as to what mm lens you use. For those larger scenery shots, use a wider angle lens or a zoom lens to get that perfect capture!

Ready, Settings, Go!

Before you start capturing your images, it might be an idea to adjust your camera settings so that it is ready to shoot as soon as you find that perfect picture opportunity! I myself like to use my DSLR camera on manual settings, but obviously that isn’t for everyone, especially if you are trying to capture something ‘quick’ in the moment, for instance. Program modes are a great way to take control of the exposure of your images. Once selected, it will adjust the aperture and shutter speed accordingly, making for that picture-perfect shot!

There are also Shutter Priority modes as well as Aperture Priority modes. Shutter Priority mode will allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds whilst the camera maintains appropriate exposure levels for your image. Aperture Priority mode gives you the option to choose the aperture and will, in turn, adjust the shutter speed accordingly. This will allow you to have greater control over depth of field. Basically, don’t be afraid to have a play with your camera settings, test out different modes, as well as manual, in different situations, and see what works best for the effect that you are attempting to create! Everyone shoots differently, and that's a good thing!

Capture In Colour Or B/W

Every photographer has their own preference for shooting in colour or black and white. It’s great to experiment with both as each effect can create something different and creative! Shooting in colour can really enhance an image as well as drawing people’s attention to your picture. At times, it can also be quite distracting though, and one thing in your image could take the eye off what you were truly trying to capture! Capturing in black and white can really emphasise form and light, as well as focusing on stronger contrasts for a more dramatic effect. So give each a try...and don’t just focus it on one scene, for instance. Be brave to trial colour vs black and white on closer up images as well as cityscapes to find your own niche!

There are many things to consider when approaching urban photography...we have covered just some of the ‘basics’ to help you get started! Do your own research too on urban photography to see what other factors are worth taking into consideration to help towards becoming a pro and finding your own creative flair for capturing all those awesome urban shots!

So, are you an urban photographer? Are there any factors that you think are important to think about before approaching urban photography? Do you have any awesome tips you would like to share with our fellow outdoor adventurers? If so, please write your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Snapping!!


Author: Gemma Johnson