10 Ways To Blend In – A Street Photography Guide

Eye Contact

It follows reason that if you’re looking at someone, they will look at you.

If staying inconspicuous is your aim, look straight ahead. Focus on your image. The less attention you pay to subjects around you, the less they will see you.

Side Streets

Putting yourself out there can be very daunting (I know this all too well!).

Something I’ve done in the past, and occasionally still do, is start by finding a side street.

Not only does this give you the opportunity to make sure your camera is all set up, but it allows you to catch your breath.

If you have just spent the best part of 20 minutes traveling to your location, take if a moment to absorb your surroundings (by yourself) – is a great way to calm your nerves and gather your thoughts.

Once you have a clear intention of what you’ve came out to photograph – get out there.

Camera Gear

This one will depend largely on your current set up, your confidence levels and whether you’re willing to put mind over matter.

Allow me to explain.

I’m fortunate enough to have two cameras. Both relatively inexpensive. A Canon 5D Mk I and a Canon M50.

The 5D is bulky, heavy but full frame. It is large, imposing and obvious.

The M50 is small, lightweight but a crop sensor. It is subtle, has the appearance of a “cheap camera” and can lead to some very close up moments.

Clearly both set ups have their perks. In my experience, and in the interest of remaining inconspicuous, it certainly helps to have a small, compact and subtle system.

However, mind over matter, if you have a better set up for the job but are afraid of what people might think…. Well, I’ve already written a piece on how to deal with doubt.

Walk Around

Similar to what I’ve already spoken about with side streets, having a walk around can help you blend into the situation.

If you walk into a scene, whip your camera out and start photographing, there will be some strange looks and even a possible confrontation.

However, if you walk around, through and become a part of the crowd, you will very soon become part of the environment.

Once you find people have stopped paying you any attention, it’s time.

This can take as long as is necessary. You will find that the person holding you back from getting started will almost certainly always be you!

The Tourist Effect

This is a favourite of mine.

If you are in a City and it has a tourist attraction, (it may even be your own City) you can use The Tourist Effect to your advantage.

Simply put, if you take a photo of a well known building, street or setting, people will be less likely to wonder why you are taking a photo.

After a few minutes of taking photos of the local environment – again, using this as an opportunity to test and adjust your camera settings – you will fit right in. People will stop paying you attention.

This gives you free reign to start your session.

Get There First

This one ties in with The Tourist Effect.

You have a location. The light is right. You have the image in you mind.

If there is a subject in the right spot when you get there – but it would cause confrontation taking that image – it may be best to just wait.

Once the subject has left, the setting is under your control. When the next subject enters the frame (providing the subject is right for your intention) the shoe will be on the other foot.

I have found, very often, that people will tend to stop and apologise for almost walking into your image.

This is the perfect time to look up, smile and wave them through. They wont mind if you take the image. As far as they are concerned, you were planning to take the shot before they got there – not because of them.

Dummy Shots

I use dummy shots to make it appear that I’m photographing something im not.

For example, say there’s a story developing, or a beam of light getting brighter as the clouds move for a brief moment, I will take a few photographs of the surrounding area. I will stand on the spot and take photographs all around me.

Timing my shot, I will rotate into position, taking the photograph at the exact moment my subject enters the position I had in mind.

You know the dummy shots will not be used, but it’s a way to take the confrontation away from the situation. If someone thinks your taking photos of the whole environment, they are less likely to think you are taking their photograph.

The image above is a prime example of this. There is no way I would just walk up to him and take his portrait. Instead, I took a few images of the surrounding location, as well as above him, allowing me to take the portrait of him without confrontation.

Once I have the image, I looked away and headed off.

Shoot & Move

This one is simple.

The longer you stick around, the longer people will notice you for.

Take only as much time as you need.

Compose your shot. Frame you subject. Control your light. Click. Move.

Neutral Clothing

This is fairly obvious.

Wear clothing that will allow you to blend in with your environment.

If you don’t look like you belong there people will notice.

Keep it simple, keep it plain. The aim of the game is to focus on capturing your images with as little confrontation as possible.

Stay Calm


This is something I have to remind myself of constantly. People are inherently more concerned with their own day then they are with yours. Meaning, people will generally notice you and move on.

What counts is that you share your story. Remind yourself that the story is more important than the pressure you’re putting on yourself.

Because it is – self induced.

10 Reasons Why You Need A Mirrorless Camera For Street Photography!

Instant Exposure Feedback

One of the best features on mirrorless cameras is the ability to view how your image will look before you press the shutter button.

Conventional DSLR’s show you an image, through the view finder, based on the light available to the mirrors. So, no matter how much you adjust your exposeure settings (shutter speed, apature and ISO), the incoming light will remain the same – You just have to wait until you take the image to see if it was correctly exposed or not.

With a mirrorless system, you can see, in real time, the effect your exposure adjustment will have on the final image. Image over exposed? Reduce increase the shutter speed and watch the image become darker.

This ensures your images come out correctly exposed every time, leaving you to focus on telling the story and sharing the emotions around you.

Afterall, cameras are just a tool to show a story.


Mirrorless cameras lack – well a mirror. This missing component significantly reduces the overall footprint of the camera.

A smaller camera, especially in street photography, means more manoeuvrability, easier to transport and less likely to cause any kind of confrontation with potential subjects.

Overall, a smaller camera body can lead to a more discrete experience.

Discrete Experience

To the uninitiated, a large bulky DSLR can come across not only as professional, but also as commercial. This tends to leave some subjects thinking the image you have just taken of them may end up in a publication.

Smaller mirrorless systems pack the same performance (if not more!) then their DSLR counterparts – without the “professional” look. This frees you up some space to discretely take photographs without the worry of potently confrontational subjects.

Focus Peeking

Most mirrorless cameras provide you with an opportunity to see what parts of your frame are in focus. This tends to come in the form of a coloured outline around all the parts that are in focus.

This means you can use lenses that do not natively come with autofocus. Samyang is a great example of this – a brand I have used in the past with my Sony a7 series mirrorless cameras.

Depth of Field Preview

Mirrorless cameras afford you the opportunity to view how your image will look before the shutter button is pressed.

Having the ability to view the depth of field beforehand can come in really handy in street photography.

Street Photography generally lends itself to very short moments or stories that develop and fizzle out instantaneously.

With depth of field preview you can set your shot up as a situation develops, raise the camera and confidently capture the image without any little surprises. A real game changer.


One of the biggest benefits of a mirrorless system is its light weight form.

For example, my Canon M50 weighs 387g (13.6 oz).

By comparison, my Canon 5D weighs 810g! (28.5 oz).

My DSLR weighs over twice as much as my mirrorless. This may seem meaningless but over the course of a 12 hour street photography session that extra weight all adds up!

One Handed Operation

So we know the mirrorless is weighs less. Well, turns out that comes with another big advantage, one handed photography.

To stay as discrete as possible, I try to practice handling my mirrorless with one hand – using the articulating touch screen on the Canon M50 – to grab my shot before the subject has even noticed.

This may be unorthodox. The photographer in me finds it difficult to not use the view finder. To bring my camera to my eye, compose the shot, wait for the opportune moment, the lighting just right and capture that image in a single shot.

The reality is, that’s just not the case. Standing with a bulky DSLR to your face, aiming your lens at a passer by, can lead to a confrontational situation – one you would rather not be in.

To avoid that, modern technology – especially in the form of a mirrorless system – allows me to grab my shot subtly.

Black & White In Camera

This is a novel feature. However, having the ability to see your image in black and white BEFORE the edit has helped me in more than one situation.

There has been times where I’m stood Infront of a subject, a street, and ally way and I know there’s an image to be captured, a story to be told. The problem is, I just can imagine what it would look like in black and white.

This is where this feature comes in. Change the profile to black and white and recompose the image. It helps you to visualise the final product before you take the photograph.

Pro tip, remember to change the profile back to standard. You don’t want to be editing an in camera black and white image. There’s no going back from there!

Smart Phone Connectivity

As mirrorless systems are at the frontline of smart tech, it makes perfect sense for them to connect to our smart phones. My Canon M50 connects to my iPhone seamlessly. 1 press of a button on the side of the camera and i’m connected to an app on my smart phone. I can transfer images from the camera instantly, ready for a quick import to Lightroom mobile if I need to get the image uploaded on the go.

Another benefit is being able to set the camera up on a tripod, step away and remotely capture an image. My smartphone acts like a second screen, allowing me to see, in real time, exactly what my camera can see. This can be used to get some very candid moments in street photography.

Just keep an eye on your gear!

Bang For Buck

I’ll keep this one short. The tech inside mirrorless systems matches, if not exceeds, their equivalent DSLR counterparts… at a significantly lower price.

Check the competition to find the best system for you.

Either way, mirrorless systems are an absolute game changer!