Characteristics of Urban Photography

Although Street Photography and Urban Photography are very similar in their style, I believe that there are important distinctions and that they are not the really the same.

While Street Photography focuses heavily on people and their environment, Urban Photography includes to a greater extent the architecture. Nonetheless, Urban Photography, is not equal to architecture Photography, at least to my understanding.

Urban Photography can be gritty, while Architecture Photography displays more cleanly buildings and the city.

In that sense, Urban Photography still has a lot of life in it for me, without showing people directly. But it is more than just Street Photography without people.

Urban Photography often has a distinct style, focusing on geometry and forms to create visually compelling compositions.

Urban Photography - Black & White windows

Inspiration through Urban Photography

I believe that we can learn a lot by trying other genres and extending our mind beyond Street Photography. Only breathing Street Photography day & night will make you very narrow-minded.

You are absorbing a very close style of photography, probably from the same group of people. Street Photography can be more than what you see and in order to find out which direction you want to pursue in the long-term, checking out other styles of photography can help you a lot.

We Street Photographers can also learn a lot by trying Urban Photography for a day or two, or in-between when there aren’t a lot of people on the streets.

Through Urban Photography we can learn how to compose more compelling photographs, putting more thought into the background and the arrangement of the “urban environment”.

Street Photography should be about life and its stories mainly, but improving the composition isn’t anything we should neglect.

Expand your horizon by testing out new grounds and get more creative for Street Photography.


Urban Photographers often highlight geometrical figures in their photography. From circles & squares to symmetry & repetition, the form is the subject in their photos and it doesn’t need much more than that.

You can find these kinds of forms anywhere and train your eye to recognize these figures benefits your Street Photography heavily.

Henri-Cartier-Bresson highlighted in his pictures how important geometrical figures are in his photos. He even tried to teach recognizing them by squinting your eyes. In theory, this should help you to see the outlines more than the details.

Urban Photography - The City

See The Details

Even though I preach the importance of details in Street Photography very often, it can still be hard to focus on everything that is going on in the candid scene. Capturing the right moment on the chaotic street is already very hard on its own. Keeping an eye on every detail is even harder and hardly possible, without neglecting more important factors.

For Urban Photography, the human isn’t the most important part of the picture. Interesting details can already create a great subject for themselves.

Without the “pressure” to include people in your pictures, your eye has more room to find hidden details that you want to show.


Much like “typical” geometrical figures, patterns can create very interesting appealing compositions. In Street Photography, we sometimes see them but don’t know how to integrate them into the overall composition.

Especially in color photography patterns can have a heavy influence on the image. Some buildings or neighborhoods are purposely painted with a certain color scheme in mind, but you can also find great patterns naturally.

Take the patterns one step further and break them again. Harmony is fine, but only unfolds its true charm when there is a slight dissonance in the picture.

Break patterns, or find portrait details that are in contrast to the patterns to create a photograph with a higher level of suspension.

Urban Photographers to check out

Canal Andres | Tumblr

A post shared by @canal_andres on

Lindaberlin | Instagram


Karl, the San Francisco Fog | Twitter

Fogust is coming.

A post shared by Karl, the San Francisco Fog (@karlthefog) on

Miky Alanis | Instagram

🥚 . . . . #D7500 #Nikonsinfiltro #NikonMX #MikyconNikon

A post shared by Miky Alanis (@mikyalanis) on