Overcoming Your Fear of Street Photography in 31 Days

If you’ve ever gone out to try your hand at street photography you probably experienced your fair share of anxiety once you were out there. Taking photos of strangers, even on crowded city streets, takes practice and time, time that’s mostly spent getting over the natural fear of taking people’s photos without their permission. But the fact that it requires practice and time doesn’t mean that a few good tips won’t speed the process along significantly.

So, in the hope that you would stop missing phenomenal shots by simply not taking them, street photographer Eric Kim has put together a 31-day “program” of sorts that will walk you through the initial stages of becoming a street photographer. From identifying your specific fears to the final challenge of standing your ground in front of an angry subject who is threatening to call the cops and telling them to go ahead.

He’s put all 31-days into an ebook that he’s giving away for free, and all he’s asking in return is for some help getting it edited and looking pretty. Head over to his website and leave a comment if you’re looking to help better the book, or check out the entire PDF version by clicking here. And if you’re going to be taking on your fears of street photography this month, then good luck and happy shooting!

FREE EBOOK: 31 Days to Overcome Your Fear of Shooting Street Photography [Eric Kim Street Photography]

Image credit: Street Series: Cafe Manc by Caza_No_7

  • Mansgame

    Here is a weird idea Eric Kim.  How about leaving people alone when they’re minding their own business?  There is no artistic value in taking pictures of strangers eating, or other people’s kids.  Some might say it’s disgusting actually.

  • ben

     pictures of strangers eating, or other people’s kids is part of a long tradition in art. More than just photography. In my country we leave people alone but that has sort now mean no one gives a shit. The intention of the maker is what counts. and the local law here understands that.

  • Chris Keth

    Mansgame, have a look through the work of any great painter since the 19th century and you’ll find a lot of pictures of people eating and children. They thought everyday activities have value, why don’t you?

  • Tom Keliher

    “Street Photography” is so highly over rated. I am sick of Digital Rev reviews and them doing street photography. It’s boring as hell. And I agree, it is an invasion of privacy. You want to take someones photo? Get s signed release. And using the idea of “art” as an excuse to infringe upon people doesn’t hold water.

  • 9inchnail

     That’s why street photography is a recognized genre of photography and art, because it’s so disgusting. Bresson being the most popular perv of them all. Dude, just shut up.

  • Mansgame

    Did the artist plop down his canvas in front of them while they were eating?   I doubt it.  Also, it’s very different to take pictures of a busy street with people as the backdrop than pointing the camera at the people directly as the subject.  If I saw a total stranger pointing his lens at my kids, I’d confront the SOB.  

    Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right and the result is that eventually, people like him are going to give all photographers a bad name and cause the ones who are just taking pictures of architecture to be harasses and eventually cameras are going to get banned all together. 

  • 9inchnail

     Kai is a lousy photographer, no matter what topic they have, he takes crappy photos to illustrate it. Don’t measure street photography by his photos. I do like Digital Rev though, you just have to take everything he does or says with a grain of salt which he actually points out quite regularly.

  • Mansgame

     I don’t know what country you’re from but in most places in the US, you leave kids alone.   As I mentioned above, if you’re in a busy street like say NY or a famous landmark and take pictures of the landmark and people are in the shot indirectly, nobody is going to mind as long as photography is allowed, but if you just start pointing your lens at people and singling them out, you’re crossing a line. 

  • Dez

    Dont want to be photographed eating iceream on the streets?
    Then eat your effing iceream at home!
    Street photographers have a tuff life because of these kind of retards.

  • Soon Seng Ng

    Too bad that the law in most countries does not agree with you. 

  • wickerprints

    Eric Kim is an obnoxious tool who likes to think of himself as being a better photographer than he actually is.  Good street photography is about revealing the unnoticed moment or a particular insight or mood about the subject.  It isn’t about manufacturing such things through posing, or getting up in people’s faces and flashing them.  Confronting or surprising your subject in order to elicit a reaction is disingenuous.  Only paparazzi do that kind of work, and the result is nothing more than a snapshot.

    My problem with Eric Kim isn’t his in-your-face approach.  It’s the fact that he is so fake.  His interactions are fake, his goofy affectations are fake, and his results are fake.  And somehow through it all, he is arrogant enough to think that his approach is sufficiently worthwhile as to merit self-promotion through e-books and YouTube videos sharing tips on how to offend people in public as a way of creating art.

    There is no law against rudeness.  But photographers who choose this route of deliberate provocation do so because they are either unwilling or unable to foster an artistic approach that transcends it.

  • Soon Seng Ng

    Documenting human behaviors and activities has no artistic value? This is a pretty big statement. I wonder whether you will be offended by the works of Robert Doisneau. He took photos of children and couple kissing on the street. How’s that?

  • Soon Seng Ng

    People like you are the one that is giving bad name to photographers. Simply enforce their creepy idea that street photographers are presumably perverts, pidofiles, or terrorists.  

  • shothi

    This makes me sad,31 day program seriously.I hate to see buffoons like him getting attention.If you like street photography you will find a way to do it.

  • Gavin Stokes

    Wow what a dumb ass…some of the greatest images ever taken are all about taking photos of people at moments like this

  • Gavin Stokes

    Wow!!!!! cant get over the narrow minded, thick headed people on here, Im going to assume they have never even picked up a camera and have no understanding of what art is and only come on here to Troll….by their logic none of these photos would exist

    Dumbasses, take a look at this little known street photographer, nearly every image a gem

  • Kingson Man

    Step 1: Don’t be rude to people. (hint: applies outside of “street photography” as well)

  • Steve

    All Eric Kim is doing is taking photos.  I find it really offensive when people think anyone taking photos of strangers or children on the street is abnormal.  Just look at that Cartier Bresson photo of children playing in the street.  If he was 20 now and wanted to take that photo, some people here would call it “disgusting”.  I think their attitude is disgusting.  Sure there are some creeps that shouldn’t go anywhere near children but to label every photographer as one of them makes me feel sick.  Would Cartier Bresson do street photography if he was 20 now?  Anyone that thinks his work is disgusting really has something wrong with them.

    I don’t care if Eric Kim and his friends aren’t as good as Cartier Bresson, what they’re doing might be just as important.  They’re showing that there’s nothing wrong with taking photos of what they see in the streets.  I’m sure they sometimes go too far with the flash in the face, that’s a different issue and one that can be debated properly.  Most of the time they demonstrate that street photography is anything but creepy or sleazy and I think that’s great.

  • Gavin Stokes

    I weighed it up, and felt it was called for…I stand by it

  • Gavin Stokes

    Agree , its more of a reflection on the person who has a problem with street photography than the photographer. Says a lot when its that’s the first thing you think of when you see someone taking a picture

  • Closely Observed

    Although to be fair most of Doisneau’s pictures of couples kissing were staged. Still, he made some incredible photographs, and I doubt he got permission up front for many of them. The way I look at it is this: the world is a slightly more beautiful place with Doisneau et al than without, and therefore street photography is worth celebrating.

    I’ve not been involved in street photography myself for very long, but from the reactions of the people around me I think it’s quite well received, even here in the small town where I live in the south of Poland. I post my pictures to a page on facebook, and now even have a few ‘likes’ from people who happened to appear in them – which is the most positive feedback I’ve ever had.

  • John R

    is a weird idea Eric Kim.  How about leaving people alone when they’re
    minding their own business?  There is no artistic value in taking
    pictures of strangers eating, or other people’s kids.  Some might say
    it’s disgusting actually”

    Weird, weird thread. 

    There is nothing too taboo to photograph.  We are all the same creature, sharing the same planet and some of us live in paradise.  The others are imprisoned by fear, thought or hunger.   

    Judging that children, dead people or anything else cannot be recorded is obscene.  Subjugating others though arbitrary censorship is a vile attitude that only diminishes yourself and leaves you morally bereft.

    That aside, I have been devouring photography books for forty years and Eric Kim has a classic style, from the few photographs that I have seen on his site he is always respectful of his subject,  and his photographs tell a story.

  • Kjboorman

    I remember I used to enjoy Eric Kim’s work until I saw one of his camera POV videos. 

  • Cloverbjc

    Mansgame…not sure if troll or just a close minded asshole.
    so photographing 30 kids doing a 5k race to support local fundraising at the YMCA makes me a perv? great. street photography is about capturing life…as we live it. capturing those quick subtle moments of raw emotion. how is this not artistic? in fact most people i have encountered on the street welcome having their picture taken. i’m new at street photography and gave my first run on the streets of NYC. not once did i encounter an angry unappreciative prick like you. if someone doesnt want their picture taken i apologize and allow them to watch me delete their photo off my camera. and i move on. not all photographers are pedophiles or terrorists. get that through your thick skull. now would you at least smile while flipping me off so i can take your picture? thanks.

  • Mansgame

     No, people like me are trying to fight stereotypes but it’s hard to do when people like Kim stick their cameras in people’s faces and act as if they’re doing important work. 

  • Mansgame

    No street “photographers” have a tough life because they’re mostly talentless hacks who can’t take real portraits and feel the need to invade other people’s privacy.  You can train a monkey to get a lens and point it at random strangers walking around. 

  • 9inchnail

     How do these people find themselves on your photos? I actually don’t upload my stuff in Facebook because I don’t want their face recognition crap alarm people on my photos.

  • 9inchnail

     And why are paparazzi allowed to do the same and make a fortune with it? They lurk and wait for specific people to show up and shoot them without permission. No one complains about that but people even buy the magazines because of the photos.

  • 9inchnail

    He definitely is socially awkward but hey, he’s Asian, what do you expect? I don’t like most of his work either but he has some balls, you gotta give him that. I have a similar approach to street photography and shoot people when I pass them but I try to remain undetected. He just doesn’t care and even shoots with flash. I couldn’t pull that off.

  • 9inchnail

     Unfortunately, he’s not the only one out there. I once photographed a little boy playing with his mother on a bench. Some random dude came up and harrassed me, obviously thought, I was a perv. He didn’t even know the woman or her kid, maybe saw his chance to play hero and impress her. But who is the pervert? Me, taking a photo of a total innocent and sweet situation or the guy that can only think of child abuse and pornography as soon as he sees a camera near a child?

  • Mansgame

    Name-calling shows to me that you have no ideas to offer.  I think you’re confusing event photography with street “photography”.  Not all pictures taken on a street are creepy or qualify your definition of a street “photographer”. 

    If you’re at a street festival or a parade, those people are putting themselves out there to be watched and don’t reasonably expect privacy.  It’s an event with newspapers and TV crews there. 

    If you have a model or client with you on the street, they’re the subject and allowing you to take their picture…nothing wrong with that.  The city is your studio. 

    If you like capturing cityscapes and the people walking around are simply a backdrop- again nothing wrong with that since that’s what you see when you’re walking anyway. 

    On the other hand, even if you didn’t have a camera and saw a couple talking and you stuck your face in the middle of their conversation and say “whatchya talking about?”, you can’t tell them “Well, if you don’t want people to bother you, stay at home”. 

    Your examples of the old time photographers is a strawman’s argument.  That was a different time and place where few people had a camera and it was a novelty.  It’s not like today where you have no idea what site the pictures are going to end up in.

  • Mansgame

     How is it different than sticking your nose in people’s conversation or starring them down when they’re eating an icecream?  Most people consider it rude if you walk up a foot away from them while they’re eating and just stare at them.  So why does it make it ok to do it with a camera (zoom or otherwise)?

  • Mansgame

    Ok, try this.  Go to the suburbs with your long telephoto lens and go to a kids’ soccer game and snap snap snap snap away and see what happens.  I’m guessing the parents are going to ask each other “who the hell is that, does he have a kid here?” and as you’re getting your head punched explain to them that it’s your right as a photographer to be there.  I’m sure they’ll understand.

    You’re also confusing people who are allowing themselves to be photographed by performing with those minding their own business.  Do you see a couple kissing in the street and walk up to them a foot away and just look at them? If yes, then you are a freak.  If no, then hiding behind a camera doesn’t make it any better.

    And yes, not all photographers are pedophiles but when people like YOU keep crossing the line by invading others’ privacy, you will ruin it for everybody else who loves photography.  YOU are the problem.  YOU are the one who ruins it for everybody else.

  • Potver7

     Oh, OK, so that’s why there are so many street photographers actually working in the US… And with great results as well!

  • Jackson Cheese

    Mansgame thinks photojournalism has no value, while his own instagram photos of flowers and cats are pure genius.

  • Jackson Cheese

    There is no expectation of privacy while in public.

  • Vincent

    Get in your bunker buddy. If people like you had a say in rule-making this would be a very bland and boring world.

  • Vincent

    So a couple of old guys will masturbate to the pics of your ugly kids. Big deal!

  • Jackson Cheese

    Been there, done that, shared the pics with the parents.

  • Echostation3T8


    You need a time out. Go take a nap.
    ‘I’d confront the SOB’? Yeesh.

    Street photography is a legitimate craft. If you don’t like it -fine. Don’t. But your don’t impose your close-minded view on those that do enjoy making/viewing it.

  • Echostation3T8

    I’m not sure why you keep harping on about kids. There are plenty of grownups out there to photograph too. And if they’re in a public arena? Done.

    A simple Google Image Search for ‘street photography’ will yield untold horrors for you. Better smash your computer.

  • Michael Choi

    Seeing all this love and hate comments, Eric has really made a presence of himself. Good job!

  • Echostation3T8

    Digital Rev’s Kai might not be Ansel Adams.. but his/their videos are both informative and fun!

    Don’t like him? Don’t watch him. That’s your right.

    And as far as I know: you don’t need a signed release unless you intend to use the photo for commercial purposes.. otherwise: shooting photos in public spaces does NOT require the permission of the subject. Comrade.

  • Mansgame

    But paparazzi don’t go bragging about how it’s an art. They know they’re slime.

  • Mansgame

    Uh, if you’ve been on here long, you’d know how anti-instagram I am.

  • Mansgame

    Sounds like the old Michael Jackson excuse that everybody else was ignorant and sleeping with kids was natural and innocent.

  • Mansgame

    No, but there is expectation of personal space. Do you walk up to people to eavesdrop on them? Do you get in people’s face while they’re eating and just look deep in their eyes? Isn’t that what this guy is doing with his lens?

  • Manuela R. Gatlin

    I have seen on his site he is always respectful of his subject, and his photographs tell a

  • wickerprints

    Great, so now you’re stereotyping Asians as being socially awkward. That in itself is extremely offensive.

    No matter how you try to justify it, it’s not socially acceptable to skulk around and pop very bright lights in strangers’ faces. It’s disorienting and disturbing. To give him credit for doing that is to have a sense of misplaced respect.

    But my point–which you and other commentators seem to have ignored–is that Eric Kim is hardly a model for doing street photography. His work is at best mediocre. It violates and subverts the very essence of street photography because he so frequently interferes with his subjects, thus he is eliciting the reaction he is capturing, but passing that off as spontaneous. As a result, his work is a deception.

  • wickerprints

    No, he is not just “taking photos.” Just because Eric Kim calls what he does “street photography” does not mean you, or anyone else, needs to accept that label at face value. To lump his work in with what actual street photographers have done is to bias the discussion in his defense and elevate his work far above what is actually warranted by his results. He is by no means a Cartier-Bresson or Vivian Maier.

    What I feel the need to repeatedly address here is that criticizing Eric Kim is not about condemning the practice of street photography as a whole. It’s about criticizing his tactics, his lack of respect, his arrogance, and his ulterior motives, which is centered around fomenting controversy through his provocative actions in order to spread his name.