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Lights and shadows in street photography

March 22, 2019
lights shadows street photography

Lights and shadows in street photography – Light is everything in photography. Basically pictures are made by contrasts of lights and shadows. Contrast attracts viewer’s eyes and allows to distinguish the various elements of the scene. This concept has been taken to the extreme in modern street photography. Infact, opening #streetphotography on Instagram we can see many bw and color pictures with huge contrasts of highlights and shadows (and of course silouettes).

lights shadows street photography

These kind of street shots are generally well composed, the contrast is visually strong and nice to see. It’s a kind of picture that quickly and easily come out when you scroll down small images on Instagram or Facebook. People watch and suddenly click on like because these photos are often aesthetically beautiful. That’s why some people probably take this shots: POSITIVE FEEDBACK.

lights shadows street photography

Perhaps photographs of lights/shadows and silouettes are frequently based on beautiful aesthetics, while “contents” are less important. That is a first problem. Moreover it seems that all photographers see the same things and have the same style (second BIG problem).

lights shadows street photography

I’m not telling you don’t photograph shadows/lights and silouettes. I’m the first one who take these kind of photos because it is really funny and (sometimes) simple. But I’m saying to try also different kinds of styles and to photograph what you really like. Do you really like shadows/lights and silouettes? Perfect! Let’s do it! Even better i suggest you a modern street photographer who takes photos of silouettes with his smartphone. Check his username in Instagram: so.asa.

lights shadows street photography

I’m writing this article after months and months of reflexion about this argument and I’ve find inspiration after reading Jeff Chane-Mouye’s article about street photography and social media. Probably i’ll write another article about photography and social media but the essence is what i said before: there are too many street photos with the same style, with a beautiful aesthetics and composition but without an exciting content. Often this pictures are based on contrast of lights and shadows that catches viewer’s attention on social media.

lights shadows street photography

Anyway, as I said, my personal advice is to photograph what you really like, don’t do what other people like. All photos posted in that article are taken by me. I’ve taken these pictures underexposing -2/-3 stops, obtaining in this way dark shadows and saturated colors that give to images a surrealistic look.


Stay well, have always light in your life

Best, F.S


Read more articles about street photography:

10 famous quotes from masters of street photography

Smartphone street photography #2

Smartphone street photography #1

Street photography: I want more life

Street photography: Stanley Kubrick

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