These 3 Street Photography Mistakes Will Make You Look Stupid

If you don’t want to look stupid as a street photographer you must avoid these 3 street photography mistakes.

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3 Street Photography Mistakes that will make you look stupid

Those who know me might be shocked to hear me calling anyone stupid.

No. I don’t believe you’re stupid.

But if you make any of these 3 street photography mistakes I might just be tempted.

I made most of these mistakes.

So you might ask: ‘Who’s the stupid one then?’

I know.

Guilty as charged.

Which one of these 3 Street Photography Mistakes are you guilty of?

These 3 Street Photography Mistakes Will Make You Look Stupid


Street Photography Mistake #1: Forgetting To Read The Camera Manual


This applies to all newbie photographers. Not just street shooters.

When you first get a new camera you’re so excited you just want to take it out of the box and start taking pictures. There’s no time to read the manual.

Prior to buying your favourite gear you spent hours on the internet researching. You compared many camera models and decided this one was just what you needed.

Now it’s finally here and you just can’t wait to test drive it.

You unbox it and start snapping around. You fiddle with as many controls and buttons as you can. But you forget one thing. This one thing that you’ve got no time for is the camera’s manual.

You don’t read the manual.

The manual?

Who reads manuals these days?

‘Manuals are for amateurs. Not for me. I know what I’m doing.’

You know the feeling, right?

It happened to me.

And I’ll never forget making this silly mistake.

It most certainly made me look stupid to this police officer who tried her very best to save my life. All she asked me to do was: “Delete the offending photos from your memory card.”

I fumbled with my camera and realised I didn’t know how to erase images from my camera. I wanted to delete those pictures. But how?



Avoid looking stupid by familiarizing yourself with the camera manual. Make sure you understand how every button works and what each dial does. Read the manual from cover to cover before you toss it away.

Street Photography Mistake #2: Leaving Your Camera In The Car On A Hot Day


Street photographers are always told to carry their cameras with them wherever they go.

Sometimes it’s impractical to follow this advice. But we try to follow this rule to the letter.

I tried my best to comply with this advice until one day I found myself without a camera to carry with me.

No. It wasn’t stolen.

It simply died.

I didn’t drop it or something like that.

I had left my precious cargo in the car on a hot South African day in Johannesburg. I closed all the car windows. This is what you do when you’re in Johannesburg.

You lock your car and close all the windows. Otherwise it might get stolen and you’ll have to walk home. Wherever ‘home’ is. I couldn’t risk losing my vehicle in the City of Gold. My home is some 200 kilometres east of Jhb.

So I locked it. And closed all the windows.

I thought to myself: ‘I will only be away from the car for a few minutes.’ An hour later I was still waiting for my parcel in this building.

When I finally got back to the car I reached for my camera. I had left it underneath the passenger seat, hoping the heat wouldn’t reach it.

I was wrong.

My little Fujifilm S700 was dead. It’s electronics had melted due to the unbearable heat.

I tried to switch it on.

Nothing happened.

I took out the battery.

I looked at it as if I knew what I was doing.

Put the battery back into the device and tried once again to switch it on.

Nothing but dead silence.

I was devastated.

Guess how I felt at that time?


I felt stupid because this was not supposed to happen. I could have taken my camera with me instead of leaving it in the car.

TAKE AWAY POINT: Don’t leave your camera in the car on a hot day.


Street Photography Mistake #3: Believing That Street Photography Is Black and White.


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Street Photography Mistake No. 3


Street photographers love to shoot in Black and White. We are so obsessed with this medium that beginners tend to believe that this is the number one rule of street photography. It’s NOT. There’s no rule that says: THOU SHALT SHOOT ONLY IN BLACK AND WHITE or the one that says: THOU SHALT NOT SHOOT IN COLOUR.

If you look at the portfolios of great street photographers such as Dr. Jonas Rask, Rinzi Ruiz and  Marco Larousse you might believe that Black and White is the only acceptable medium for street photography.

To disabuse you of this notion, I want to urge you to take a look at other great street shooters like Martin Parr, Forest Walker and Dirty Harry (aka Charalampos Kydonakis).

It’s perfectly OK to shoot street photography in colour if that’s what you choose to do. It’s a matter of personal taste. Don’t ever feel like you Must shoot in Black and White.

We see the world in colour and therefore colour seems natural to us. Black and White on the other hand strips colour away from what were looking at. It’s abstract and takes the viewer from the reality we know to something completely different. If Black and White appeals to you, fine. If you prefer colour, no problem. Just shoot the streets without the unnecessary burden of mistakenly believing that you have to shoot in Monochrome.



You don’t want to feel, sound or look stupid. So avoid repeating these 3 street photography mistakes.

Can you think of other street photography mistakes to avoid?

Please share them with me in the comments section.

Or connect with me on Twitter and keep this conversation going.

Till next time.


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