safety on streets

Dress for Success - Street Photography Techniques

You’ve heard of the saying - dress for success. It seems to be used most commonly in reference to impressing at interviews and successfully getting the job, in part by dressing for success. First impressions matter, generally people look at you before hearing from you. It’s natural to look at somebody and form a basic opinion of that person by looking at them. You can argue the rights and wrongs of this all you want, but at the end of the day it’s human nature to do so. Maybe this is even more true as a street photographer, since we are all keen observers of people. Before we take a photograph of any particular person we are looking at them, judging them and wondering if they would make an interesting subject in a photograph. Is the person open to having their photograph taken if asked, or if it would be better to take a photograph candidly? These are some considerations we take into account before taking a photograph. But what about being behind the camera, how do the clothes we wear affect those around us?

We have a few things to consider but usually the first thing we are trying to do as a street photographer is blend in with the crowd, not so much become invisible as we all know thats a thing left for the super heroes. Fitting in would keep eyes off us for a little longer and allow us the opportunity to get closer to the subject without being easily noticed. Eventually, you will get noticed, no doubt, and perhaps for other reasons beyond how you dress but it does help to fit in especially if you want those closer to the scene images.

The next thing to consider is your safety, and avoiding wandering eyes spotting you as a potential target. Having a camera around your neck doesn’t help matters when you're trying to dress for safety, but wearing your finest Supreme gear and hitting the streets of Tijuana isn’t going help your street photography at all and will draw negative attention. If you dress like those around you, chances are the camera will be pretty unnoticeable when hanging around your neck. What might look normal where you live can make you look very much out of place in a different part of town/country. So, the next time you’re shooting in an affluent part of town you might want to get in your best casuals on before some affluent neighbor calls the cops on the suspicious individual taking pictures of flash cars in driveways. The same can be said for the less affluent streets, that flash Louis Vuitton bag you got on sure looks good to the man in despair with nothing to lose, it tells him you got money! something he might desperately need.

Lastly, shooting for comfort and practicality should be considered. Towards the end of a long street photography session, your body might start to tell you where you screwed up when getting dressed. Nothing like having to walk/hobble across the border after a 5-hour slog on the streets of Tijuana, all due to picking converse as the shoe of choice for the day. Another good one is checking the 85* weather at 3pm, slapping on a t-shirt only to have the t-shirt drenched due to the extreme humidity that you didn’t check. Then surviving the after-dark journey home, in that lovely wet and now freezing cold t-shirt, brilliant.

Those are our tips for dressing for success whilst out doing street photography. Take into consideration those three points and find the most suitable clothing for the job.