Street Photography Workflow

Apparently infographics and flowcharts are all the rage these day, so I thought it might be cool to produce a workflow chart to show you my street photograph process. The chart is quite self-explanatory I think. 

This is a graphical summary of my recent articles on street photography, and if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, it might be useful to refresh yourself on my article on “How I Approach my Street Portraits” in particular.

I hope the flowchart makes sense and you find it useful? If you’ve been following my previous blog for a while, the contents of the flowchart should not come as a surprise. And in another Robin Wong tradition, here are some images from a recent Shutter Therapy session.

All images shot with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 45mm F1.8 and 25mm F1.8


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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2017 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. The sequencing of the flowchart does not seem sensible to me. Should you not determine whether the subject meows before assessing the lighting conditions? Or are you only willing to rub kitty’s tummy in good lighting conditions?

  2. Stunning, stunning portraits… I tend to opt for a ninja approach, but never delete photos, only archive them. 🙂

  3. Very nice flow chart, especially with happy kittens. But I´ve got a little question to getting permissions. Did you have problems after publishing such nice pictures because someone retired their oral admission ?! Or if someone is saying an oral admission wasn´t given ?! How can such problems be avoid in just an oral way ?!

    • Robin Wong says:

      So far I have not come across such issue in Malaysia. However, if anyone has issue with the photos shown here, they may let me know, surely if their reasons are valid the photos will be removed.

  4. I´ve got a little question. Did you have problems because after publishing the oral permission was received ?! How do you avoid such problems like word against word ?!

  5. Robin: are you mentally preparing yourself for the D850 here at MT? You’ll have to pick up the slack on that review now that Ming’s hands are tied with Hassy. Early specs indicate 50MP, Dual EVF/OVF, IBIS, tilt screen (YAY!), illuminated buttons and dials and NO BUILT IN FLASH (WOW!). Looks to be a real beauty though. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen or read you holding a giant DSLR? 🙂 You ok with that? Have really enjoyed your posts here … thank you!

  6. Hello,
    I have followed your advice, just bought this big 25mm f1.2.
    Very Happy ! Now I can be a street photographer in complete dark with my mk2
    Have fun !

  7. Ah, Ming…. I had to laugh a little, not at you, with you. The chart is already flawed in the first box, isn’t it? Whether you accept it or not, at a certain point the subject is immaterial, because no matter what it is, it is upstaged by shot discipline, workflow, and final output. If you apply those things with focused and rigid discipline, you can make a great picture even in the absence of subject. I realized this a few years back when I started to shoot “InBetween” frames, that is, the space between obvious subjects, which when treated with the same care as actual subject matter, is just as beautiful. As an exercise, I was at Yellowstone Park one weekend and never shot a single geyser, waterfall, buffalo, or any of the typical subjects that are expected. Instead, I only pointed the camera down, in perpendicular fashion, squared up (no tilt), and shot patches of flora and fauna, the stuff most people were just walking over or past. The goal was to recognize and frame the geometry of any random piece of ground, and then give it the same care and attention that Ansel gave El Capitan. 🙂

    • Martin Fritter says:

      Well, in this case, you’re doing pictures _of_ the street! Actually, Irving Penn did this – especially cigarette butts and gum. But he would send assistants out to find stuff and then he set up his Hasselblad with extension tubes and lighting and so on.

  8. Your flow chart for street shooting is phantastic! Couldn`t you find a gifted programist to translate it in camera presto so we could do away with all these cumbersome decision. A press on the button labeled StreetPh and here we go.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Hah, there should be a preset customized “scene mode” named “Street Photography”!

  9. There is a midway between Direct and Ninja: take your shot without asking, but do not hide either. Give the subject a chance to react, both while you shoot (their expression may actually become interesting) or after you shot (in which case the conversation, if it happens, is ofter interesting too, and may lead to a longer portrait session). Ninja is creepy, I think, and Direct alters the dynamics too early in the process. Nothing wrong with Direct, but it’s different.

  10. Tuco Ramirez says:

    Missing an “I don’t understand” box that branches off into a “Waste time comparing DXOmark scores” tree with endless equipment
    review sites below that never returns.

  11. Harry van Gastel says:

    SWEET photography ? 😎

  12. Kristian Wannebo says:

    Allow me a question;
    I recognize the advantages of the m4/3 system you have chosen, but do you ever miss the shorter DOF a FF (or even – somewhat – an APS-C) system can give – and I’m not thinking of portraits?
    ( I’m considering a switch from EOS-M, mainly for the possibility of a good IBIS and a fully articulated screen.)

    • For me, I personally think that with the F1.8 lenses (and now we also have a few F1.4 and F1.2 options), I have sufficient shallow depth of field rendering for my own needs. I cannot say for everyone of course, but lenses like Olympus 45mm F1.8 and 75mm F1.8 do give razor thin DOF.

      • Kristian Wannebo says:

        Thanks for YOUR point of view!

        • Kristian Wannebo says:

          And when you need the wider 25mm?

          • When I shoot with 25mm, I usually do environmental portraits, and I need to see everything in focus.

            • Kristian Wannebo says:

              I guessed something like that…

              Only, I thought that e.g. with the man with the fish (25/45 mm ?) – but perhaps not with the man and the boy – you just *might* have wanted a bit more background blur? Or?

    • Frans Richard says:

      I switched from Nikon DX to Olympus OM-D. I now have 2 E-M10 bodies, 6 lenses, a flash and some other accessories that all fit in an unbelievably small bag that weighs less than the Nikon gear I had. I can get shallower DOF with one of the ultralight f/1.8 primes than I could get with any of the f/2.8 Nikon lenses I had that weighed a ton (remember f/1.8 on m4/3 is equivalent to f/2.4 on DX/APS-C DOF-wise). I have no regrets whatsoever having switched and do not find DOF control is an issue.

  13. For “how to approach” you can add a few more paths to address things that meow, chirp, bark, or growl. Could also elaborate on shooting small children when the parents can see you.

    • Oh dear, if that something growls… better not get too near.

      Kids are trickier and do be extra careful. The shots that I have managed to acquire, the parents were friendly and did not mind having the photos taken. I understand people from other countries (these images were shot in Malaysia) may be sensitive to people taking photographs of their kids, and we do have to respect their decision. Be smart and do not find trouble.

  14. Jonathan Hodder says:

    Overpriced (Irish) coffee for the win…

  15. Dear Robin,

    This article really made me laugh . . .

    If I may challenge one point – it’s the one about the kitty. I usually take a picture instead of rubbing its tummy. I only rub their tummies when I am without a camera (yes, this does happen at times). The result is worthwile – I have a series of lovely cat’s portraits.


  16. Kristian Wannebo says:

    You do have a knack of engaging people!

    The silent drama of the last photo.
    But I do come back to the woman with the yellow package
    and to the first photo.

    The link “How I Approach my Street Portraits”
    is broken.

  17. well done !!!

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