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How To Create An Easy Street Photo Session

Clay Enos is a laid back photographer who is probably most well known for his portraits from the movie The Watchmen. Today he is taking his portrait photography to the streets and doing something most of us would find pretty intimidating by asking random people to pose in front of his white backdrop. Making people feel comfortable with you in a short amount of time is a crucial skill to have as a photographer, and Clay does a great job explaining how you can do this on the street with a relatively short 50mm lens. Now some people might not consider this real street photography but it's definitely an easy way to capture spontaneous images with a studio look.

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jonathan thorpe's picture

i love clay, super nice guy, but check your spelling on "Sesson" love the site guys.

Vall's picture

You read my mind! Just in time for my first street photo shoot. Thanks a lot! Great tips. :-)

Nathan O'Kane's picture

That looks like a lot of fun when it isn't 4*F outside! I think there was a touch too much sharpening for my taste, but hey, that's his thing!

Paul Kremer's picture

See, THIS is the kind of video I enjoy watching here! Very inspiring. I don't think I would have processed them the same way, but I enjoyed his idea and the shots look great!

Lindsey's picture

Great video, thanks! Any chance you guys know what kind of camera strap it was he was using?!

Antoine Thisdale's picture

Ah see, that's interesting!

I've done something similar a few years ago, but i had a light setup to go with it and it did scare a lot of people away. I love the street photography vibe of this video, as it's really what its all about. Simple photos with simple natural light.

Question for Clay Eno if he's reading this; Do you have everyone sign a release? or its voluntary and that's it?

amalotov's picture

in front of Rayko photo center if my SF street knowledge is on point.

Christopher Cauble's picture

Now, there's a resourceful photographer! I'm not a fan of the over-processed photos, but that's his call. Thanks for posting!

Tanner's picture

Saw this video like a year ago and kept telling myself I was going to get out and do this this last summer. Forsure going to get out this spring/summer and kick this idea out!!

Lubin's picture

This is an ok video, shows simply that you don't need planning to do photography. Hell, in many businesses you have to be in people's faces to get them to stop and notice you. If no release was signed, hopefully, he got their emails and gave out as many of his cards, so he could show those people later on the results and maybe get a sale or two. Some times, from my experience, you will find people willing to pay you on the spot for the photo you just took, because they just love it. You never know what will happen.

Wesley's picture

That looks like a great idea, i'm just curious what his next step was?
Give them your business card and put the pics on your public site, give them an unique order no.? let them sign a model release and make a city portrait book?
I will be able to make the pics of random strangers but i can't make up my mind what to do as a next step.

james darden's picture

Didn't someone upload this a long time ago. I thought I saw it on this site.

james darden's picture

I wonder how many people passed on this thinking he was some kind of crazed lunatic or maybe was someone in law enforcement posing as a photographer in an effort to nail someone in a sting operation or maybe that he was looking to expand his library of victims in his stalker portfolio?

In today's society, people are very leary of stuff like this in major cities where weird things happen.

james darden's picture

Does one need a permit to do this? Especially if you're just outside a store. My photography group's next contest happens to be street photography. I can see taking my girlfriend and her cousin's daughter with me on something like this. They are both very outgoing and personable. I think with their help, it would be much easier to break the ice with strangers and they would be more open to letting down that barrier that I would not otherwise be able to get through if it was just me on my own. They could pose with them for one shot then jump out of the frame so I could get them alone.

Christian's picture

What kind of Post Production software was use?

I really enjoyed the video! Well done.

Yianni M's picture

Loved this video!


Chris's picture

I did saw this video some time a go and we did the samething it was super, i think about 60 people past,55 has no problem to be fotographed.


Michael's picture

I saw this video a few years ago when I was taking a BW film course. I got inspired by it and went out the next day to take a roll of film of people walking by.

I used a (quite literally) random brick wall on campus, taped up a white sheet, and asked passers-by if I could take their photo. It was going really well, I got about 24 or 25 exposures before someone thought I was a terrorist because I was taking photos (I mean, aren't we all?) and called the cops. I got kicked out of the area because I didn't have it "reserved" even though I was on campus doing an assignment for a class.

Lesson learned - make sure you know your rights.

Not a whole lot ever came of those photos, I still have the negs though, I should scan those up.

Thanks guys, keep up the awesome work.

Ben Pettit's picture

Definitely trying this some time soon. Great idea!

Jeremi Blurton's picture

What did he do for releases?

Marc Pagani's picture

Interesting video and idea. Good for him. He's getting out there and shooting. Only comment I have is that he talks several times about how people are uncomfortable with him being "in their face", yet he's using a 50mm lens. Why not use a longer zoom or longer prime so that issue will be a non-issue (or is the in-your-face aspect part of the whole process)?

Donnie Bell Design's picture

This is at best, a great social experiment. At worst, a great photography project. I love some of the shots, I would do it so long as I could get a copy of the pic.

Jimmy's picture

Its a great way to challenge yourself and improve your people skills as a photographer. I don't like the way he edits the images and for my personal taste think they would look better just as B&Ws. I too like others watched this video a while back.

Carlo Parducho's picture

Where's the like button for this? Yeah he's a cool guy.

Jay McIntyre's picture

This video inspired me to set up in the streets this past weekend!  I set up a flash, umbrella, and reflector by a wall and started stopping people for portraits.  here's a collection of them

Anonymous's picture

When I first saw this video on the Strobist site I was inspired to try it myself. At first it wasn't easy but it does get easier and more exciting. I make my portraits on medium format film and only allow myself one frame to get the shot, no chimping. It's a hugely rewarding experience.

Majeed Khan's picture

You are great sir!

3rd-string jedi's picture

This is fantastic. Everyone that thinks they're a "street photographer" needs to watch this. Not because he's doing "street photography" in the traditional sense, but for this simple quote: "I'm trying to make them look heroic, not in a super hero sense...I'm trying to put them at their best."  Hot damn, I wish more photographers respected the dignity of the people they photograph. This dude just got added to my list of heroes. Way to go Clay.