Are Street Photography and Urban Photography the same? Where are the differences and the commonalities of these genres? Watch and explore how Urban Photography is a unique and original photography style, that shouldn’t be mixed up with other genres.
What is 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.
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 Photography Tips
To make more out of Your neighborhood, city or during Your travel, here are some Urban Photography tips to make Your next Photowalk more efficient.
Be an explorer
Curiosity leads to interesting scenes and as an Urban Photographer, You should follow anything that might be slightly interesting to You. Have the mindset of an explorer, but instead of a natural jungle, You are finding Your way through the cityscape.
Document Your exploration in the form of Urban Cityscapes and share those images with Your friends.
Whether it is the architecture, people or other signals, You should never let You hold back and simply explore the city.
New perspectives can open new angles for Your photographs.
This Urban Photography Tip might not be new to You, because there already a lot of images circulating on the internet shot from a low angle looking up, but even if this is already a widespread style, You can always be creative.
Search for skyscrapers, bridges or interesting scenery.
Alternatively, You can also shoot from the top to a lower point. Anything that differs from the normal “eye-level” opens up new perspectives and is more interesting to the viewer.
Visit other cities
Exploring as an Urban Photographer sounds like fun, but even in bigger cities, this curiosity might deplete when You are out on the street for a long time.
To re-inspire Yourself, the best advice is to change the environment and explore new cities. Those don’t need to be the fanciest or crazy cities that You can imagine. Just a small change in the usual habits can already help You a lot to get more creative and help You out of a photographic slump.
Luckily, flights aren’t very expensive anymore, at least in Europe I am able to find flights to interesting cities for as low as 20€ roundtrip. So don’t be scared because You think it might be too expensive.
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.
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
Instagram is a great platform to check out Urban Photographers. Here are my tips for some great feeds.
Canal Andres | Tumblr
Lindaberlin | Instagram
MARIUS SVALENG ANDRESEN | Website
Karl, the San Francisco Fog | Twitter
Miky Alanis | Instagram