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5 Reasons Festivals are the Perfect Place for Street Photography

Street photography is one of my greatest passions. I love capturing candid moments of city life. You can get very creative with street photography and create photographs in your own style. I know there are certain “rules” when it comes to street photography, but I feel like if you capture an image or moment that really speaks to you, then it’s your art.

I have been doing street photography for almost two years and I am always learning new ways to improve my photography skills. I have found festivals and special events are a great place to do street photography. Today I’m sharing five reasons why I like going to festivals to do street photography.


1. People are more willing to be photographed at a festival.

Photography is expected at a festival. Many people are walking around with cameras or using their cell phones to take pictures. Patrons notice this and their guard will be down versus if you just approach someone walking on the street and try to snap a photograph.

When people are at a festival or special event, they are generally in a cheerful mood. Therefore, when you approach someone and ask if you can take their picture, they are more likely to say “yes” than “no”. Sometimes people will notice you have a camera and ask you if you can take their picture. When this happens, I usually get the person’s email address or social media information so I can send or take them the photograph I took.

People are more willing to be photographed at a festival.
Find a subject that stands out to you at a festival and capture the moment with your camera.


What if someone doesn’t want their picture taken?

Remember to be mindful to respect someone’s space and don’t photograph them in an unflattering way. If the subject declines to have his photograph taken, simply smile and say “no problem” and find someone else to photograph. The person who doesn’t want their photograph taken has a good reason and you shouldn’t take it personally.

Photography Tip: When someone catches your eye and you want to take her picture, try telling the person what it is you like about her look and then ask if you can take the photo.

For example, while at the 2017 Red Bull Hartlines Street Skateboarding Competition, I saw a man wearing a cool Detroit t-shirt (see photo below) and went up to him and said, “I really like your shirt. Do you mind if I take your photograph?” He was happy to oblige. 

His Detroit t-shirt caught my eye and I had to get a picture of it.
People are more willing to be photographed at an event or festival, like this woman I photographed at the 2016 African World Festival in Detroit.


2. Artists and performers at festivals make great subjects, too.

I always like photographing street artists and performers, especially when they have a unique look. Most of the time, street artists and performers like being photographed, too. Sometimes they’ll even stop and chat with you or ask you if you’ll share the photograph you took with them via email or social media.

Just don’t forget to tip the artist/performer. I always like to leave a tip in their tip jar after I photograph them. More than likely, you’ll run into them again at a different event. They’ll remember you as the cool photographer who was kind enough to leave a tip. 🙂

Most artists and performers at festivals like to be photographed, too. Remember to leave a tip after you take their picture! 🙂
I like photographing street performers in the city. I think it shows the beauty of the culture of city life.
Ziam Penn, artist and performer, can be found around Downtown Detroit at events and festivals. He’s always happy to have his picture taken.


3. Festivals are a great place to practice street photography.

After I bought my first DSLR camera, I was excited to get out in the city and begin taking pictures. I had no clue how to use my new camera or how to do street photography, though. Attending festivals gave me the perfect opportunity to practice!

After reading an article about photography or watching a photography tutorial, I would go to an event and practice what I learned. This helped me SO MUCH with my photography. I definitely recommend if you’re new to photography to attend a festival to practice your skills.

My first time visiting the Michigan Renaissance Festival was an amazing photography experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to practice my photography skills.
Detroit Street Photography
If you want to practice your photography skills, attending a festival or special event is a great place to practice!
Find things that catch your eye and don’t be afraid to photograph it!


4. All that you need is right there!

When you’re at a festival or special event, you have just about everything you need for street photography. Many people are out and about, food is usually available, and bathrooms are nearby. This is especially helpful when you are out with your family.

I’m a mom of five. and most of the time my children are with me. When I attend a festival, I don’t have to worry about leaving to get the kids something to eat or to take them to the bathroom. Everything we need is right there at the festival!

Read the latest blog post: One of my favorite places to go for street photography is Campus Martius in Downtown Detroit.

I love doing street photography at festivals because it has all that I need for my photography experience: food, people, and restrooms.
Slices Pizza is one of my family’s go-to spots when we’re in Detroit exploring the city.


5. You never know what you’re going to see at a festival.

I remember the first big Metro Detroit-based festival I attended was Arts, Beats, & Eats in Royal Oak (2015). We had been living here for just a few months and it was our first time getting out and exploring the area. As I was walking around the festival, I was looking for something interesting to photograph. That’s when I met the “Spaghetti Man” decked out in an eccentric suit just dancing to his heart’s content.

I’ve been living in Metro Detroit for two years and I still don’t know why he’s called Spaghetti Man. I just know I see him at a lot of events in the summertime. (If you know the story behind the Spaghetti Man, please do share with me!)

Capturing the Spaghetti Man dancing to the live band made a perfect series of photographs. Ever since then, I have learned to keep my eye out for art, people, and other cool sightings that make great photographs. And I haven’t been disappointed yet. 🙂

street photography
The Spaghetti Man is known to attend events and festivals and happily dance to live music.
street photography
The Spaghetti Man


Camera Gear I Recommend

Many people ask me what kind of camera gear do I use or recommend. Right now, I am shooting with a Nikon DSLR. My favorite lens is the 50mm, but for street photography, I like to use the 35mm.

When I go out to work on my photography, I bring my camera backpack, 35mm lens, extra camera batteries, and an extra SD card (because you just never know).

Here’s what I recommend for camera gear:

Nikon DSLR 3400

Nikon AF-S 35mm lens

AmazonBasics Camera Sling Bag

SanDisk 32GB microSD card with adapter

Power Battery 2-pack and charger for Nikon




All photographs were taken by Jennifer Hamra (that’s me!).


What are your thoughts?