Street/candid photography..any tips on how you "hide" your camera?

Hi, just wondering if any of you have any tips on how you "hide" or make your camera less visible...I use a film body and a lot of the time with a 20-35 f2.8 lens {black body and lens} and find if I sling it over my shoulder {looks less dodgy} sometimes I miss shots that I might have got if I hold the body and lens in my hand with the strap wrapped around my wrist. {which I do..but is way more visible}

What do you do? any tips appreciated.


to "sglmom".. almost all the best shots in street/candid are taken without asking the person for permission. People freeze up and put on their camera face when they know they are having their picture taken therefore missing the true emotion of the person in an everyday enviroment... and in this style of photography blending in is what its all about.

10 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    I do a lot of street photography when I travel, often in places that I don't want to stick out like North Africa, Cuba, or Eastern Europe. And I don't really 'hide' my camera as much as simply use distraction or nonchalance- I just pretend to be slowly walking somewhere, and I shoot from the waist in portrait, using burst- obviously you'd want a decent depth of field, and have to rely on autofocus or set your lens to infinity. It just looks to a casual observer like I'm simply going past with a camera in my hand- 99% of people equate taking a picture with holding a camera up to your eye. I'll often be looking up at a building or something as I pass- nobody ever suspects that I'm photographing them. I almost use a reverse form of panning, except that I'm rotating the camera in place momentarily as I move through space, if that makes sense. I'll shoot moderately wide and crop out what I don't need. I learned through trial and error how to approximate angles and composition by 'feel' doing this. Sloppy? You bet! Does it work- absolutely! Of course, I shoot digital, so you might not want to burn film doing this. I sometimes have my day-pack slung over the one arm I shoot with, and let it dangle to just above my lens- I look like just another dumb tourist, so nobody notices me. If I need to shoot in landscape, I've also pretended to be fixing something or otherwise attending to my gear, triggering the shutter with the flat of my thumb, and always at chest level or lower so as not to arouse interest while looking down at my camera. Again, nobody ever thinks you're shooting if it's not up near your face. I've also done this- pretended to be adjusting my shoe or something, or reading my guidebook, while my camera is pointed discretely at what I want; or I've seen a shot, planned the composition, and used my 10-second self timer with the camera hanging from my neck, hands nowhere near it! Sneaky, sneaky... I should have been a spy...

    BTW, your site is excellent. My favorite shots are the skyscraper abstract with the tiny airplane, the elderly lady passing the tri-chopper, and the macro of the small stone with the white lines. The portrait of the guy mending his nets is also a great capture. Nice work.

    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Just let the camera hang around your neck at chest level. Use a 35mm lens at f11, set the focus to 7' and everything from 4' 5" to 18' 4" will be in focus. Use a cable release to trip the shutter. You'll have to practice composing without looking through the viewfinder. Alfred Eisenstaedt is famous for his candid photography done this way on the New York subway system.

    You can also buy a "spy lens" which is a long lens hood with a mirror at a 45 degree angle "looking" out of a hole in the side of the lens hood. So when you have your camera pointed one way you're really taking a picture 90 degrees to the side.

    If you only have a 50mm lens you can check its best depth of field settings at

  • 1 decade ago

    I have to agree with "namedeleted"...a TLR might be an option. Not only would you get much sharper pictures (considering it's medium format film), but depending on the circumstances, it might actually be much less conspicuous. That sounds kind of strange...a big, twin lens camera might be LESS conspicuous. But the thing is that most people have never seen a TLR before. If you're very casual about it and don't draw attention to yourself, the average person probably wouldn't even recognize that it's a camera! The public is so used to seeing people look through a viewfinder (or the LCD display on a digital camera), that when you look through the view screen on TOP of the camera, they probably wouldn't even think that it's a camera.

    The closest I came to "street photography" was when I was taking pictures at a lake in the mountains. I was taking pictures with my Yashica A, which is a TLR, as you probably know. I'm mainly interested in landscape photos, so at first I was just taking pictures of the lake. Well I decided to get some pictures of people around the lake...just loading their boats into the water, walking on the trail around the lake, etc. I thought it might be interesting to take some natural, candid pictures of the people. At first, I was kind of nervous because I had never taken candid pictures of people before (well, not strangers anyway). But then I realized that it really wasn't any different than taking pictures of the lake. As long as I didn't bother them, they probably wouldn't even notice me. And they didn't. They didn't notice me at all. The people were completely obvlivious and just went about their business.

    I think part of the reason was because I was using a TLR and so when I was looking in the view screen on top, they didn't even realize that it was a camera. I acted very casual and just talked with my friends while I took the pictures.

    I'm hardly an expert, because I don't do street photography. But I would think that as long as you don't do anything to draw too much attention to yourself, and as long as you don't bother them, most people probably would never even notice you. Most people have so much on their mind (especially right now) that they are totally oblivious.

    By the way, legally you do NOT have to ask permission to take someone's picture if they're on public property (public street, public park, etc). The laws might be different in some countries. But in the US, you don't need to have permission as long as they're on public property and you don't use the pictures for commercial purposes. You'll have to judge whether you can take the picture without the person noticing or without bothering them. Most people won't care or won't even notice. In some cases, it might be better to just introduce yourself and ask the person's permission. But yeah, I can see how that would ruin the "candid" moment of the picture. People act weird when they know a camera is around, even if they try not to. They act goofy, or they just get nervous and they can't help it.

    Good luck. I hope someone with more experience can help you. Try posting your question on

  • sglmom
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    I, too use SLR Camera bodies (Film and Digital) and have 3 particular lenses that I use on a regular basis (a standard length, a wide angle to small telephoto, and a standard to medium telephoto which end up taking care of the vast majority of what I shoot).

    Now with that said .. I would like to point out that you need to be sensitive to OTHERS .. and that means respecting the rights/beliefs of others in regards to their "images" ..

    I don't suggest 'hiding' the camera at all .. wear it around your neck, with the lens cap on. IF in doubt .. ASK the subject(s) if you can snap their image .. if they want it then yes, take the photo that you intended to at that time. (This is a rule of thumb that I learned while attending my Photography Courses at my local college -- the Professors insisted that we learn the 'ethics' of taking of images and how others could possibly be offended by them).

    I wouldn't suggest 'slinging' it over one's shoulder at all -- that is the way things 'slip/fall' and break (and goodness knows -- SLRs are expensive).

    Don't worry about 'missing' things .. just concentrate on enjoying what you see .. and yes, don't be afraid to ASK! I have a tendency to ask friends/family along when I need people in my photography .. and they know that I will take those photos for my 'stock'. As a result, I have ethically obtained what I wanted, and I did not offend anyone in the process.

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  • Phi
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Be relaxed and casual. I usually have my slr hanging from my shoulder along with a messenger bag. The bag helps camouflage the camera and it's right by my hand. In most cases I don't use the slr and use a rangefinder instead. It is much less conspicuous and when noticed most people think it's just a point & shoot. Another good camera to use is a TLR, you shoot from the waist and hardly get noticed at all. I don't recommend a long telephoto unless there is a real reason. It removes you from the subject - the street, and that's what it's about.

    Source(s): I'm a professional, I know photography ethics and law.
  • Megan
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Collect a few poses you like from magazines, practice them till they feel natural, and make sure when you are photographed whoever does the photos backs off and uses full zoom, shooting from a low angle so you'll look tall and in proportion. If you are photographed without zooming the lens you'll end up looking like the partying socialites at the back of the Sunday papers, big head and short legs. Cute, but not the best look.

  • 1 decade ago

    I hide my camera by not hiding it. I'm very visible when I take pictures. That, or I say I'm working on a project for a class if anyone asks.

  • 1 decade ago

    Telephoto lens 300 or more.That way you don't have to be close to the subject which makes you invisible to them or close to it. If you are shooting in daylight I like to use ISO 64/ ISO 100.and use a remote shutter cable so you won't get movement of the camera from the mirror slamming, well at leaest it like it is slamming.

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