The Anatomy of a Street Photograph

The reason I say it’s the “anatomy” of a street photograph is because it’s the structure I typically follow shooting street scenes, it’s this structure that helps bring my vision of the scene to life. I typically go out shooting every weekend, but I live in the relatively small city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and while we’re the second largest city in Indiana, we’re not loaded with people at all times like a lot of the big cities. When I’m out shooting on the weekend I always go out at sunrise and then walk around the city as the sun rises, paying attention to the long light that the morning sun gives us and I take a lot of snaps of how that light hits. I keep those snaps in an album called “Photo Notes”.

Today’s Photo Note and eventual street scene started on a Saturday morning (09.18.2020), after a nothing sunrise I waited for the sun to start cutting through some of the city and while walking around I caught the light coming through these slim windows. This isn’t a building that is open on the weekends and it’s the only building on the block, so the chance of getting someone to walk through the scene on a weekend was next to ZERO. So…photo notes.

I instantly like the possibilities. The cut of light is great, the slim window gives off a great shadow design and will change as the morning progresses and there’s a second set of slim windows for the sun to hit as it rises just camera right of this window on the other side of the pillar. With the position of the window and how slim it is, there’s only about an hour where the sun will shine through the windows. The good thing is, the parking lot for the building is on the other side of the opening, so anybody parking and walking into the building would likely be coming through that spot. I just needed a cloudless, morning…which is a crap shoot in Indiana and people, so I waited for a morning that looked clear during the week.


The following Friday was the best shot I had at it, so I headed out that morning. The sun was near the end of the window when I took the photo notes, and those were taken at 9am. Knowing I had about an hour, it was pretty good timing as the building opens at 8am. Found a couple compositions I was happy with and waited for a few people to start showing up, and people who were in early for cleaning and maintenance to leave.

It was a good lesson and exercise to remind me to plan out an image, or a series of images and to not rely on something spontaneous happening…especially if you shoot in a smaller, sleepier city where you will have to work a little harder to try and create something. The photo notes were taken with an XF 35mm f1.4, but I’m using the XF 23mm f2 for the final images. You can see some more of my street images on Instagram @dan_adams_snaps