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What is street photography?

Street photography is a unique and dynamic form of photography that captures the raw, unmediated moments of everyday life in public places. It is a way for photographers to document the human experience and tell the stories of the people, places, and events that make up our world.

The beauty of street photography lies in its ability to capture candid, unplanned moments that reveal the true character and emotions of the subjects. The photographs are often candid, as they capture real-life moments as they happen, without the subjects being aware of the camera.

However, it is important to note that not all candid photography is considered street photography, and vice versa.

Alexey Belov - Beijing, China
Photo by Alexey Belov, artist on PortraitMode.

Street photography explained: The different interpretations and characteristics

Defining street photography can be difficult, as everyone has their own interpretation of what it means. According to the Wikipedia article on the subject:

Street photography (also sometimes called candid photography) is photography conducted for art or enquiry that features unmediated chance encounters and random incidents within public places. Although there is a difference between street and candid photography, it is usually subtle with most street photography being candid in nature and some candid photography being classifiable as street photography. Street photography does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. Though people usually feature directly, street photography might be absent of people and can be of an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human character in facsimile or aesthetic.

The Wikipedia article continues:

It is also important to note that street photography does not need to exclusively feature people within the frame. It can also focus on traces left by humanity that say something about life. Photographers such as William Eggleston often produce street photography where there are no people in the frame, but their presence is suggested by the subject matter.

PortraitMode’s mission: Creating a platform for street photography

At PortraitMode, our mission is to create a platform for street photographers to showcase their work. While the definition of street photography may vary, we have established guidelines to ensure that the content aligns with the theme of street photography.

We believe that street photography encompasses capturing candid moments of everyday life in public spaces, featuring people, architecture, or urban environments.

Samuel Lintaro Hopf - Hamburg, Germany
Photo by Samuel Lintaro Hopf, artist on PortraitMode.

However, it’s important to note that not all types of photos align with the theme of street photography and may not be suitable for our platform.

For example, a close-up photo of a flower, a landscape with no human presence or emotion, or photos of your pets are not considered street photography.

Maintaining the Integrity of Street Photography

We strive to maintain the integrity of street photography on our platform by curating content that aligns with this genre, and creating a dedicated space for it.

When reviewing photos on the platform, we strive to be lenient and give the benefit of the doubt to our users. However, if a photo is significantly removed from the theme of street photography, it may not be suitable for our platform and might be removed.

The focus of PortraitMode remains street photography. We are here to provide a dedicated space for street photographers to showcase their work and we are excited to see the unique perspectives of our community members.

Lukasz Palka - Tokyo, Japan
Photo by Lukasz Palka, artist on PortraitMode.


  • The article sure is very informative which clearly defines street photography. Although not everyone may not agree. Either way, will take this information as my reference point and hope I will not be limited by it.

    Keep Snapping!

  • I believe it is good at this point in time to start narrowly defining Street Photography.
    I hope other experts will be able to join us and curate some of our work as we cannot all be Henri Cartier-Bresson on day one, and it would be great for the community to be a learning experience, not just a critical platform.
    Thank you David for starting this platform.

  • David, I hope it is ok I have asked Brian Lloyd Duckett who runs a Video Chanel called Street Snappers to join us in PortraitMode.io my request was the following
    “Brian would you please consider joining PortraitMode.io a STREET PHOTO ONLY COMMUNITY where you would be a great asset please consider”
    I hope this is ok as I would love this guy’s experience and knowledge in our community.

  • When curating content and removing photos, have the app notify the user of it’s removal and a short reason at to why, otherwise PortraitMode will just be limiting the concept/the definition and only became the will and judgement of someone.

  • Well so far i was so happy with this social media but they just took down a photo i took because it doesnt comply with their criteria of street photo… its a photo of the dog in the street….. like there were not enough elements in that photo sugesting the human presence…. God…. maybe Daido Moriyama would have a hard time publishing his work, or one of the main photos made by Josef Koudelka would never make it here, i mean i could explain this subject for hours… but i dont think they listen

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