Complete guide on urban photography Let nothing stop you!

Perhaps you’ve heard of street photography, and you’ve probably even thought that they are the same. Sometimes the labels are seen as something negative, but in other occasions it helps to understand the concepts and know where we want to go. In fact, for years the two have been one and many times uses the term interchangeably, but today I will tell you what is urban photography and how it differs from the street. Because with the new styles have been spreading more and more, although they are still found in many points.

The idea with this article is not to catalog, tag, or judging, or anything like that, but to open new doors to creativity, give you new ideas and photo that you can spread your wings and fly which cities you leave and where your imagination takes you.

To gain more insight into street photography, don’t miss the mega guide that we have prepared with all the tips and tricks of Street Photography.

Now, we’re going to mess with the urban.

What is urban street photography?

Urban photography is one that is performed in the urban environment, within cities, and pursues an aesthetic purpose and creativity, but it requires a technique cared for. Capture elements of urban, architecture, objects, or even urban landscapes.

urban photography
The urban photography captures any item, and action in cities

What are the differences between urban photography and street photography?

The main difference is that the photography urban pursued the aesthetic and the street of the message. While the first is more demanding in terms of image quality, in the street more premium emotion or the story forward.

Other important differences are that a urban photography can be prepared, while a street is not. A photo urban could be more of a photo in the street, but not a photo of a street. The street photography is spontaneous and natural, photographer should never influence in the moment or the scene, but to capture what happens.

For example, if you entrap a person jumping in a puddle, the natural way would be to street photography. If you put your colleague to jump the pond to shoot from the best perspective, to achieve the framing is ideal and with the jump, the more spectacular, then it is not street photography, but photography urban. The street photography the only preparation is to anticipate the situation, in the urban you can manipulate the scene to your craving to achieve the image that you have in your head.

For example, this jump has nothing to do with the famous photograph of Henry Cartier-Sombreness, who scored the decisive moment. Which does not mean that it is not a picture well-executed, creative, attractive and interesting. It is simply a different style with a different objective.

urban photography

All of this can remove that urban photography puts more emphasis on the team while the street accepts any camera, regardless of the image quality that you offer, as long as the photo is able to rappelling the stomach.

Equipment for urban photography

As it came to saying, in urban photography, being the aesthetic purpose, requires a more demanding in terms of image quality. Let us see what is the recommended equipment for the photographer urban.

Camera to the urban photographer

The cameras are recommended for the photographer urban are those that allow to shoot in manual mode and control all the parameters to achieve exactly the photo you are looking for and be able to give free rein to your creativity.

That is to say, mirrorless (or without mirror), slr and compact advanced. Is it a mobile phone? Depends on the mobile and how to use it ;P

Having a camera with manual controls, which will allow you to squeeze your creativity will be the objectives.

urban photography
The best camera is the one that fits you and your needs


Any goal you can serve for photography urban because in this case the creativity has no limits and it doesn’t matter if distorsionas the reality, because here the faithfulness and spontaneity is not the goal, but as I said the order is more aesthetic.

From the target type fish-eye with these effects so characteristic to telephoto lenses that compacted the plans and make it seem like two skyscrapers are next to each other to skip them when in reality they are hundreds of meters.

What is important is that you understand the concept of focal length and you know what you can get from each of them. Because it will not be the same thing that you want to capture details in large urban scenarios.

On the other hand, also keep in mind the luminosity, since the more light the lens, in addition to be able to capture more light, you’ll be able to achieve greater background blur.

You also have the possibility of using optical fixed or zoom. Everything will depend on your style and the kind of photography you like to do.

urban photography
Taking the best of each objective. The creativity of the power

Accessories for the urban photography

When it comes to not put limits to creativity, the accessories can be a great ally. They are not essential, of course, but depending on what kind of images to look for, can be very useful and even necessary.

  • Tripod and shutter release. To achieve night-time images or long exposure and capture motion. The tripod is indispensable, the shutter-release button is to avoid vibrations, even though you can use the trigger delay of the camera or an application for shooting from your smartphone if your camera allows it.
  • Polarizing filters. The city is filled with crystals and other reflective surfaces. If you bother certain reflexes that are not wanted, with a polarizing filter can be kept at bay.
  • Extra battery and card. This is a recommendation, but everything will depend on the sessions soles make and your needs.
  • Strap comfortable. To wander the city looking for the best instant ideally, bring a comfortable, choose the belt that best suits your needs and tastes.
  • Backpack. While in street photography it is ideal to go with the camera and ready, in the sessions of photography urban is likely to bring more of a lens, the tripod, and even the flash, if you like its effects. In this case, a comfortable pack is always welcome.
  • Flash. It is essential but it is another resource to achieve spectacular images and creative. Yes, I speak of the external flash, so we are clear, right?
  • Drone. If you have one or you have a chance to acquire it, can be an incredible experience to capture urban scenes.

Tips for urban photography

In this section I’ll tell you about some of the aspects that you must take into account when making urban photography, at the same time that I introduce some tips that will be of great utility.


Depending on the time of day, you’ll be able to achieve very different images. The sunrises and sunsets you provide lights and warm side, and also the blue hour, a spectacular moment for the street photography at the blue of the sky contrasts perfectly with the artificial lights. The photographs of these hours are stunning.

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That said, we return to the question…

Backlights are another type of photographs that you can achieve when the sun is lower. Time to achieve silhouettes or flares that add warmth to your images.

On the other hand, the central hours of the day allow you to capture photos of shadows and high contrast, and this harder light also makes the colors look more bright and saturated.

Know how it behaves light and plan your sessions, urban photography taking into account the type of light, will help you to achieve the most impressive images and to reinforce the message you want to convey.

urban photography
The light of dusk in street photography offers a multitude of possibilities

And what happens when night falls? What guards the camera? But oh no, friend! It opens up another world of possibilities to you: Lights, cars, signs, neon, buildings, and shop windows lit, etc, And if you surround the darkness light will shine even more. Time to achieve amazing effects if you have already mastered the external flash.

The night is a festival of lights, are you going to lose?

Composition in street photography

The composition is fundamental in urban photography, the way you place the elements within the frame will help you to give more or less prominence. A good composition can be the difference between the spectator stand to enjoy your image or that pass you by.

Accounts with certain resources to capture the viewer’s attention or give prominence to the center of interest. These are resources compositional most commonly used in street photography:

  • Frame. The frame vertical is more dynamic, helps to emphasize the height of the buildings and to transmit more force. The horizontal gives greater stability.
  • Perspective. The angle from which disparate your photography can completely change the effect on the viewer. For example, it will not be the same as photographing a skater jumping to the height of your eyes if you do it to the ground.
  • Lines. The lines help to guide the gaze. The diagonal lines create tension, the horizontal stability, the vertical dynamism and the curves are more sexy and subtle.
  • Vanishing point. When the lines converge at a point known as the vanishing point, and this acts as an arrow accurately. The lower the perspective from which disparate, the more powerful will be the effect of the leakage point.
  • Patterns. Several repeated elements form a pattern, this may be more or less uniform but when it is interrupted by a different element, this becomes the center of interest. You can use to create rhythm in your image.
  • A natural framework. When you use the urban elements to frame your protagonist within the image is known as framing natural. This makes the gaze is focused directly on him.
  • Reflections. Take advantage of all the reflective surfaces to get interesting compositions. Puddles, glass, mirrors, metal surfaces, etc, will be your allies in the city.
  • Human element. In street photography does not need to be the human element, which does not mean that you can be included or not add interest. As humans we are we are identified immediately. In addition, a human figure, not only works as a center of interest, but includes size scale and can help to reinforce the dynamism or the stability of an image, depending on the action you perform.
  • Graffiti. The city is full of them, mix and match with the human element, with the framing natural or play with the perspective, but it is a resource that you shouldn’t miss in urban photography.
  • Architecture. The architecture is the perfect complement to your photographs urban, as a background, as a protagonist, as coprotagonita, to use his lines as an element driver, etc
  • Color. Uses color to convey messages or to achieve compositions more attractive. With analogous colors, you can create pictures urban full of harmony, on the contrary, if you are looking for contrasts always have the option to include complementary colors. The red is a great attention grabber wherever you place it.
  • Black-and-white. I just speak to you of compositions based on the color, which does not mean that you can’t do street photography in black and white. Of course, though you will have to compose thinking in monochrome, the composition never can hold you in color because it would not work, although it is best to shoot in color and then do the conversion, but always knowing that it will work in grayscale. Lean on the lines, patterns, light and shadow, etc
urban photography
The black-and-white is also another possibility for urban photography


Playing with the shutter speed you have a lot of power in your hands. From freeze movement with fast speeds, such as a jump, or to pass it with slow speeds, for example, to capture the speed of a train. The possibilities are endless, the only limit is your imagination.

You can also achieve impressive photos urban using the technique of sweep. It can be difficult, but in reality it takes is practice. If you want to get it, you can .

urban photography
Swipe to convey the movement


We have already discussed the idea of including the human element. It is okay to photograph passers-by, however, to achieve all that you set out to do will help someone who’s willing to follow your instructions. Someone with enough patience and a taste for the photo (in front of or behind the camera) as to endure a session of “get here”, “go up to this wall” , “put it this way”, “jump”, “jump again that has not been well”, “do we go up to the top of this skyscraper?”, etc

You know what I mean, right? Someone who shares your passion or you want to so you didn’t mind accompanying you in all your follies, photo by the city. And if it is a creative mind that will feed yours, the better.

Inspiration: gallery of urban photography

I’ll leave you with a gallery of images of urban to spark your creativity and give you ideas that come out to practice.

Editing and revealed

Pass by Lightroom or any other image processor it is not a sin film. It is the last step to achieve the picture that you, as an artist, you want to achieve.

With the revealed finish your picture, you highlight what value it has for you, you bring the color to the tone or saturation you want or retocas where you want it to disappear that lantern that you’re upset. Because yes, because other disciplines do not support this type of retouching, but the urban itself. The creativity and the final aesthetic is what that bonus, so yes, if you want to delete a banana from the soil that brings nothing but an eyesore, why not?

If you have to use effects in Photoshop for your image more spectacular, and that is what you fancy, why not? There are No limits in art. Don’t let that you put you can’t put them to you. Just like that you have infinite number of creative filters that you can use.

Use all the resources at your fingertips, whether of material, composition, lighting, or software – editing, because this discipline, contrary to street photography, not only supports it, but thanks.

With the editing programs, and revealed you’ll be able to give the final touch to your photography. Your camera is a tool, you be the artist.

Up to here this guide on urban photography. I hope this article helped you but above all, that you’ve inspired you and you’re willing to have your camera in your hands and go out to capture the life of the cities with it.

If you found it interesting, please, don’t share it. It may be that someone is willing to read it, didn’t even know. Thank you and until next time :).