How to Turn a Boring Scene into a Full Street Photography Session

This is a syndicated blog post from Zlatko Vickovic. The content and the images here are being used with permission.

Nothing. Boring scene. I was sitting on top of some stairs, enjoying my cigarette as usual, and searching the area with my eyes for something interesting to come up. My camera was sleeping next to me. I’m sure you all have these moments. You steal some time from your routine life and go out shooting, full of enthusiasm. Suddenly, you realise nothing is happening, nothing interesting at all.

And it seems that harder you want something to happen, less are the chances. Old masters of photography use to say: “… Just sit and wait and look around… something will happen.”And it happened. Two girls came up and started to take some pics of each other, with their shiny smartphones, of course. Blah… boring. After observing them for a few minutes, I couldn’t resist myself.

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“Hey” I said “are you taking photos for instagram?”


“You should find some clear background.”

“Why?”, they asked.

“Well”, I said “you are wearing black, and your background is messy, and also dark grey… so it will not make photos look great.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, trust me… I know…”

They have continued to take pics with their smartphones. Waste of time, still I was thinking to myself. I open my mouth again. That’s me. Smooth talker…

“Also, you should try different angles… there are many photos from the eye level, and they all look the same… if you want to stand out from the crowd on instagram… you have to be a little different… try to crouch, or put phone a bit higher…”

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They started to laugh.

“Hahahaha, how about you take a few photos of us. You have that big camera, and it looks that you know what you are talking about.”

That`s why I love street photography, you never know what can happen, once you are out there on the streets.

“Ok”, I said, “but I’m just an amateur, I cannot promise you anything…”

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They laughed again, coming closer to me.

I turn around and spot this big yellow wall behind me. Great, I was thinking, a small twist of luck. Gods are with me today. So,  that’s how it started and became a situation in which they jumped and spinned their heads, while I was shooting like a maniac, a real machine-gun work with my Nikon. It was such a good time for all three of us, maybe 30 or 50 minutes, I completely lost the sense of time… After I finished shooting, we exchanged our Facebook profiles and I promised  that I will, of course, send them the photos. It was great fun and experience! And all that came out from completely boring situation, just because I threw them few words and initiated a communication.

Takeaway tips:

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  1. If you run around  with your camera desperately trying to find something interesting to shoot and nothing is going on, maybe it`s good idea to sit at one spot, relax, and wait until something interesting comes to you.
  2. If you see some interesting character, try to wait until he is in front some less messy background, or you can try to ask if he can move to a desired place.
  3. When life throws at you unique photographic opportunity, shoot a lot, shoot to death, unless you are as good as Bresson and you can take perfect photo at first click, and even Bresson works the scene, shooting multiple times and trying to find the best composition, angle and moment.
  4. Sometimes, only difference between nothing to shoot and a good photo opportunity is in starting a conversation with a complete stranger. Maybe that idea looks now terrifying to you, but believe me, you have nothing to lose… Just be sensitive to people around you, and throw few casual words if you see a chance for good photo. Sometimes that’s all that separates you from a boring scene to full street photography session, and a lot of fun!

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.