m, Berlin, 2022Photo by Alex Motoc on Unsplash

Street Photography : Feelings of Fear and Risk when You Take Shots of Strangers on the Street

It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relations with it. — Antoine D’Agata

Sean P. Durham
6 min readJul 29, 2022


As a street photographer I think about “why?”, very often.

It’s in our nature, we always want more. So, when I ask why do I take photos on the street, I already know the answer, but I want more answers.

It’s as if I’m piling up a lot of information about my actions to confirm that I’m Okay, I have a right to do this.

To take photos of people who never asked to have a photo taken, and my desire to take the risk of being caught out and snapped-at by an angry stranger. It feels risky, all the time.

Maybe, if I’m unlucky I might experience a Bruce Gilden moment, and get a punch in the mouth. He’s had a few.

Street photography is a battle with your own fears. The fear of offending a person, in some way or another.

Taking shots is about dealing with feelings of fear and risk when you take street shots of strangers on the street. That’s a fact, but it doesn’t answer our questions about why we need to do this thing.

I think we need to experience the fear, or at least wind ourselves up into a state of positive tension that creates a powerful feeling of anticipation.

If your mind is positively tense, knowing that you could see something soon, a composition on a street corner that offers, something like, the perfect shot, then it’s a good feeling. We capture moments that seem important in the moment.

Street Photography; a man walks along a street, a shutter in the background
Photo by Barthelemy de Mazenod on Unsplash

Many street photographs are shot at a distance. And they are good. I sometimes feel like I’m hiding out, hunkered down, holding my camera to look as if it’s unimportant, my body language casual…



Sean P. Durham

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Street Photography. Fine Art Photography, writing, art, cats. http://berlinstreetphotographer.com