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What Makes a Good Street Photography Image?

I ask this question because I really don’t know the answer.

I am interested in street photography, I have taken street photographs in many different places, but I have yet to capture what I would call a good street image.

To my eye, most of my street images are boring; they are mainly images of random people in random locations doing nothing.

In some ways I know what doesn’t make a good street image; it is harder to know when a street photograph succeeds.

I have studied many street photographers, and success still eludes me.

I know when an image appeals to me, when it has that something extra that makes it stand out from the crowd. But that something extra is hard to achieve.

So, what makes a good street photography image?

I have come up with some possibilities.

A moment – I think that capturing the perfect moment is key to successful street photography. It might be a look, an expression, an interaction or an action that encourages the viewer to look at the image, ask a question, wonder what is happening or what is being said, or guess at what might happen next. This moment captured on camera will encourage the viewer to engage with the image for a while, rather than just give it a fleeting glance.

An interesting play on words - An interesting play on words is often found on signs in the street. This can provide an interesting subject for a photograph especially if it is something uncommon.

This is one I just spotted in Dublin when I got off a train - a Chinese take away called Wok On Inn.

It was difficult to capture without being knocked down by an oncoming bicycle!

Something out of place, funny or incongruous - like this pedestrian sign and nowhere to walk.

or reading something without a comma

Something just screaming to be photographed - like this row of pink buses!

Or a question mark in the street.

An event – something out of the ordinary, where people are gathered for a single purpose or there is some sort of action going on.

An interesting juxtaposition -

A girl selling newspapers and magazines who is more interested in reading her phone!

A story

A story image invites questions - Who are they? Where are they? What are they doing?

or even

Where have they gone?

A humorous incident

Seagulls crossing

Street photography is not easy.

I don't have many examples of photographs in each of the categories above.

But there is something to aim for in this genre.

In future I will try not to go out and just capture random images.

I will try to keep the points above in mind and hopefully will return from each street photography outing with more interesting and effective street images.


Although I am always trying to improve at photography and take better images no matter what type of photography I am doing, my overall priority is to enjoy my photography.

Coming home with some good images helps but sometimes it's the experience of just being out taking shots that gives us joy. And if that's the case for you, then just ignore what I've said above and go out and shoot.

If you find a gem among your images, great.

If not, at least you'll have had some fun doing what you love.


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