City and Urban Photography: 5 Tips for Beginners
Urban photography is a broad topic that is only bounded by location. You have to be in a city to do urban photography. An urban photographer is as diverse as street photography and architecture photography. But just because you take a photo in the city does not mean it’s urban photography or that you are an urban photographer.
Urban photography is about the city. Cityscapes, street photography, and architectural details are all photographs that can be included under the banner of urban photography.
Many photographers think of the classic city photography taken in places like New York, London, or Los Angeles. But if you want to become an urban photographer, you don’t have to be in any of these locations. You just need to be in any city. Old or new. You can take photos in any urban environment.
What Makes Good Urban Photography?
Good urban photography is what you make of it. Because urban photography is such a wide topic that covers so many different subjects, there are no hard and fast rules to determine what is and what is not good urban photography.
Looking at the photographs of accomplished urban photographers, you will notice some patterns and similarities in their photographs.
Contrast is often a feature of good urban photography. Think of photographs you have seen taken in large cities where there is contrast. It can be between light and dark. Or tall and short.
Maybe even contrast between what is manmade and what is naturally occurring in the city landscape. When you are out doing some urban photography, think about how to include contrast in your images and how it will make them more interesting.
One contrast I notice between the styles of many urban photographers is that of minimalist composition and ones that contain a lot of details. It might be an urban street photography style. Sometimes it is more architecture. But there is definitely a style gap between the images different urban photographers make.
Good lighting is important not only for urban photography but also for any type of photography. Often, the better the lighting, the better the photograph. Don’t take lighting for granted. You need to plan to go out with your camera when the light for urban photography is best.
Think about the type of images you want to make and how the lighting is going to have an effect on how your images will look. Do you want hard light/ Or will your photos look better with soft light? Sometimes taking urban street photos at night will make a more striking image of a particular location.
Black and White Urban Photography
One of the best urban photography tips is to think in black and white. When you love urban photography, black and white images can add much more interest to the photographs you take.
In an urban environment, black and white photos tend to help you draw attention to your main subject. In the city, there are often lots of bold colors that add nothing to the photographs you compose. Taking away this color can help you make more interesting city landscape images.
Urban street photography including people, often works really well in black and white. These photos can capture more of the character of a subject and the location.
Related article: How to Take Street Photos in Black and White.