10 Tips for Taking Street Photos at Night

There are a lot of reasons why some photographers like taking street photos at night. The first and most obvious, of course, is the fact that the street becomes more alive.

And this is not just because more people go out at night, but also because the night brings a more dramatic, extraordinary effect to otherwise simple scenes. This is true especially for busy streets like the ones you see in cities.

The cityscape is embraced by different light sources; there are colored ones, dancing lights, solitary and steady lights, car lights, and even lampposts. The scene is bathed in a myriad of colors, so there’s a more exciting vibe. It’s like everything is given a different meaning.

There is photography gear that you can use if you want to come up with good night street photos.

  1. Your camera. You can use a compact, mirrorless or DSLR camera. It depends on what you have or what your budget can give you. Look for a manual or semi-automatic compact camera that will allow you to shoot with a high ISO. A good image sensor size is also important. On the other hand, if you’re planning to use your DSLR camera, be sure to bring the right lenses. Aperture should be at least f2.8 (f1.2 to f1.8 are recommended). If you go with a narrower option, you’re going to have a difficult time taking good shots. Do not forget to set your ISO high; your options should be from 1600 to 6400.
  2. Additionally, you need to shoot with a wide-angle lens. This will make your depth of field larger and likewise, you won’t have a difficult time taking sharper photos. Some photographers like to use 28mm lenses, but there are some who’ll also consider 35mm, 50mm, or even 85mm.
  3. One of the things you won’t need is a tripod. Bringing one will not give you a lot of space to be spontaneous and creative. Besides, it won’t be easy lugging a tripod as you go around the streets!
  4. It is important to remember that you do not need to use flash. Artificial light, like the one created by your flash, will make the night scenes look unnatural. Also, when you do street photography, you want to be as unnoticed as possible; so if you use flash, everyone will be looking your way. Look for lighted areas that you can use instead of the flash. You can either look for a subject that has a light source behind him, or position yourself in an area where you can aim your camera at the light source. Play with the light sources first before taking a serious shot. Remember, you are shooting a night scene; therefore, they should look like they were taken at night.
  5. Additionally, since you do not want to be noticed by people while going around the streets, make sure your camera is black as this does not attract a lot of attention the way a white or brightly colored camera does. Also, you might want to wear dark clothes. If you wear red or yellow, or anything shiny & sparkling, you will stand out and attract attention. Avoid wearing anything expensive and, please, please do not wear high-heeled shoes. Sneakers are your best option because they’re comfortable, and you will be doing a lot of walking!
  6. Find different areas to shoot and don’t stay in one place for hours. Aside from limiting your scene options, this will also make you look suspicious. A lot of action is happening in the streets, so explore and use your creativity. Avoid shooting in dark and hidden alleys, though.
  7. Always bring someone with you when you decide to shoot in the streets at night. This is especially useful if you are not familiar with the area you are shooting. It is always best to be prepared.
  8. When shooting people, try as much as possible to find subjects who are not moving. It is difficult to take sharp photos of people in motion at night. You can, however, take photos of moving objects like cars. Or, if you really want to take photos of people in motion, be sure there is a good background or surrounding that can add a sharp element to your photo. For example, if you want to take a photo of some people dancing, look for an angle that will show their surroundings and then press your shutter button as softly as you can. Since your shutter slows down, it will allow some light to come in. Be careful not to move around while doing this. If you do this properly, your moving subjects may be blurred, but their background will be sharp.
  9. You can also try taking photos of your subject positioned against the light. This will result to silhouettes, which many like because of their dramatic/poetic effect.
  10. While there are some night scenes that will look good from far away, you should also try to shoot closer to your subjects. You should do this especially if you want your subject to be the main focus. But, of course, night shots are always good when you make your subject a part of a bigger scene.

If you want to take good street photos at night, make sure you also follow street photography etiquette. As always, practice makes perfect. Go out one night and practice taking photos of whatever night scene you want. Once you know what to do, schedule another shoot and click away!