35mm Lens Street Photography Insights: Exploring the Streets

Michael • December 2, 2023 • 6 min read

35mm Lens Street Photography Insights

In the bustling heart of a city, where life’s narratives unfold one fleeting moment at a time, lies the captivating realm of street photography.

It’s an art that celebrates the ordinary, the extraordinary, and everything in between, all through the lens of a 35mm masterpiece.

Welcome to a world where the streets become your canvas, and every click of the shutter tells a unique story. In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the secrets of 35mm Lens Street Photography.

Whether you’re a novice seeking inspiration or a seasoned enthusiast looking to hone your craft, join us as we explore the art, ethics, and sheer joy of capturing life’s most candid moments on the streets.

1. The Essence of Street Photography

Street photography is a vibrant and exhilarating form of art, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the mundane transforms into moments frozen in time.

It’s about capturing the essence of life as it unfolds, unscripted and unfiltered, in the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle.

The 35mm Lens: Your Ultimate Tool

Now, you might be wondering, why the 35mm lens? Well, my friend, this petite glass marvel is your ticket to the heart of street photography.

It’s the lens that can breathe life into your shots, making them feel as authentic and raw as the streets themselves.

close-up shot of a 35mm lens attached to a camera, with the bustling streets in the background.
The 35mm lens: Your Passport to the Streets

What Awaits You in This Article

In the following pages, we’ll dive deep into the enchanting world of street photography with a 35mm lens.

We’ll explore its advantages, the art of composition, ethical considerations, and even delve into the magic of post-processing.

So, grab your camera and let’s hit the streets, for there’s a world of stories waiting for your lens to tell.

2. Understanding Street Photography

Now that we’ve set the stage, it’s time to truly grasp what street photography is all about. Buckle up, my friends, because this is where the adventure begins.

A. Decoding Street Photography: What’s the Fuss About?

Street photography is like the ultimate visual treasure hunt. It’s about capturing the soul of a place and its people by documenting the spontaneous moments that unfold in public spaces.

The purpose? To freeze time, evoke emotions, and tell stories through the lens of your camera.

B. A Peek into History: The Evolution of Street Photography

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? Street photography has a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century.

Pioneers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans revolutionized the genre, capturing raw, unfiltered moments on the streets of Paris and New York.

Over the years, it has evolved, incorporating modern technologies and styles, yet staying true to its core essence.

C. The Irresistible Allure and Perplexing Challenges

Ah, the appeal of street photography! It lies in its unpredictability. Every corner turned, every face in the crowd hides a potential story.

The raw emotions, the candid expressions, the unexpected beauty—it’s all there for the taking. However, with great rewards come great challenges.

The streets are unpredictable, and you’ll need patience, quick reflexes, and a dash of stealth to capture those fleeting moments without disturbing the scene.

So, as we venture deeper into the world of street photography with a 35mm lens, remember that it’s not just about snapping pictures—it’s about painting stories with light and shadows.

Stay tuned for more insights and tips to master this captivating craft.

3. The Advantages of Using a 35mm Lens

Welcome to the lens that’s about to become your best friend in the world of street photography—the 35mm. Let’s uncover its secrets and understand why it’s the go-to choice for capturing life on the streets.

35mm lens for capturing life on the streets
Wide angle perspective 35mm lens

A. The Charm of a 35mm Lens

1. Wide Angle Perspective

Picture this: you’re standing in a bustling city square, and you want to capture not just one subject but the entire scene—the people, the architecture, and the energy.

A 35mm lens offers you a wide-angle perspective, allowing you to fit more of the story into a single frame. It’s like having a window into the world, revealing the big picture while still letting you focus on the details.

2. Versatility

One of the key features of a 35mm lens is its versatility. It’s equally at home shooting landscapes, portraits, or candid street scenes.

It’s your Swiss Army knife in the world of photography—a single lens that can handle a multitude of situations.

B. The 35mm Lens and Street Photography: A Perfect Match

1. Discreetness

Imagine this: you’re wandering the streets, your camera in hand, trying to capture authentic moments. The last thing you want is to stand out like a sore thumb with a massive lens.

The 35mm lens offers discreetness—a compact and unobtrusive tool that allows you to blend into the background. You become a part of the scene rather than a distraction.

2. Low-light Capabilities

The streets aren’t always well-lit, and some of the most magical moments happen in the soft glow of dusk or the dimly lit alleyways.

The 35mm lens is your secret weapon in low-light situations. Its wide aperture lets in more light, allowing you to capture those moody, atmospheric shots without the need for flash.

C. Street Photography Legends and Their Beloved 35mm Lenses

To truly appreciate the power of a 35mm lens, let’s take a look at some legendary street photographers who have made it their weapon of choice.

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson: Often referred to as the “father of modern street photography,” Cartier-Bresson was known for his Leica camera fitted with a 35mm lens. His iconic shots of candid moments are a testament to the lens’s versatility.
  • Daido Moriyama: This Japanese street photography maestro is renowned for his gritty, high-contrast black-and-white images. His favorite tool? A 35mm lens that allowed him to get up close and personal with his subjects.
  • Garry Winogrand: Winogrand’s frenetic and energetic street photography was captured primarily with a 35mm lens. His work perfectly embodies the essence of street life.

So, there you have it, the 35mm lens is more than just a piece of glass—it’s your passport to the mesmerizing world of street photography. 

4. Choosing the Right Camera and Lens

Now that you’re excited about the 35mm lens for street photography, let’s talk gear! Selecting the right camera and lens combination can make all the difference in your street photography journey.

A. Camera Options for Your 35mm Lens

1. DSLRs

DSLRs (Digital Single-Lens Reflex cameras) have been a staple in the world of photography for years. They offer the advantage of an optical viewfinder, which can be a real asset in fast-paced street photography.

A DSLR paired with a 35mm lens gives you a powerful combination for capturing life on the streets.

2. Mirrorless Cameras

In recent years, mirrorless cameras have gained immense popularity, and for good reason. They are compact, lightweight, and offer features comparable to DSLRs.

The absence of a mirror allows for more discreet shooting, making them a great choice for street photography. Plus, mirrorless cameras often have adapters that allow you to use a wide range of lenses, including 35mm primes.

B. Considerations When Choosing Your 35mm Lens

1. Prime vs. Zoom Lenses

Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, such as 35mm, and offer exceptional image quality. They’re known for their wide apertures, which allow for beautiful background blur (bokeh) and excellent low-light performance.

A prime 35mm lens is often favored by street photographers for its simplicity and sharpness.

Zoom lenses, on the other hand, offer flexibility in framing, allowing you to zoom in and out. While they can be versatile, they tend to have smaller maximum apertures, making them less suitable for low-light situations.

However, if you want a more flexible approach to street photography, a zoom lens with a 35mm focal length might be a good choice.

2. Aperture and Focal Length

When selecting a 35mm lens, pay close attention to the aperture and focal length. A wider aperture (e.g., f/1.4 or f/1.8) lets in more light, perfect for dimly lit streets and achieving that dreamy bokeh effect.

A 35mm lens with a focal length of f/2.8 or lower is highly recommended for street photography.

Sony a7 with 35mm lens
Sony a7 III with 35mm lens / Image Source: Sony

C. Budget-Friendly Options

If you’re just starting on your street photography journey and want to keep costs in check, fear not. There are affordable camera and lens options that won’t break the bank.

Camera Recommendations:

  • For DSLRs: Consider entry-level models like the Canon EOS Rebel series or Nikon D3000 series.
  • For Mirrorless: Look into cameras like the Sony Alpha a6000 or Fujifilm X-T100.

Budget-Friendly 35mm Lenses:

  • Check out third-party lens manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron for cost-effective 35mm prime lenses.
  • Consider buying used lenses from reputable sources, which can significantly reduce costs.

Remember, it’s not always about the latest and greatest gear. What truly matters is your vision and the stories you capture through your lens.

So, pick a camera and lens combo that suits your style and budget, and let’s hit the streets to explore the world of street photography further!

5. Essential Camera Settings for Street Photography

As we step onto the bustling streets with our 35mm lens in hand, it’s crucial to understand the camera settings that will help you capture those decisive moments with precision and flair.

A. Embrace the Power of Manual Mode

In the realm of street photography, manual mode is your trusty companion. Why? Because it gives you full control over your camera settings, allowing you to adapt quickly to changing conditions.

With manual mode, you’re the master of your camera, and that’s essential for capturing fleeting moments on the street.

B. Nailing the Right Settings


For that dreamy background blur and to make your subject stand out, opt for a wide aperture like f/1.8 or f/2.8. This not only creates beautiful bokeh but also lets in more light, perfect for low-light scenarios.

Shutter Speed:

Street photography demands quick reflexes, and so does your shutter speed. Aim for a minimum shutter speed of 1/250th of a second to freeze the action and avoid motion blur. However, you can go faster if your subject is in rapid motion.


ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light. In well-lit conditions, keep your ISO low (e.g., ISO 100 or 200) to maintain image quality. As light decreases, increase your ISO to compensate, but be cautious not to go too high, as it can introduce noise.

Modern cameras handle high ISO values better than ever before, so don’t be afraid to push it a bit when needed.

C. Mastering Exposure in Varied Lighting

Street photography often leads you through a rollercoaster of lighting conditions, from bright sunlight to the depths of shadows. Here are some tips to ensure proper exposure in any situation:

  • Sunny Days: In bright sunlight, use a faster shutter speed to prevent overexposure. Consider using your camera’s built-in exposure compensation to fine-tune your settings.
  • Overcast Skies: Cloudy days offer diffused light, making it perfect for even exposure. Stick to your base settings and adjust as needed.
  • Shadows and Low Light: When venturing into dimly lit alleys or during the golden hours, open up your aperture to let in more light. Increase your ISO to maintain a fast shutter speed while avoiding camera shake. Embrace the moodiness of these conditions.
  • Night Photography: For capturing the city’s nightlife, don’t shy away from higher ISO settings and slower shutter speeds, while using a tripod for stability. Experiment with longer exposures to capture light trails and unique effects.

Remember, mastering your camera settings takes practice. Don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. The streets offer a variety of lighting situations, each providing an opportunity to refine your skills.

So, keep experimenting, stay adaptable, and soon you’ll become a maestro of exposure on the streets!

6. Composing Compelling Street Photographs

Now that you’ve got your camera settings under control, let’s delve into the art of composition. This is where your creativity truly shines, and your 35mm lens becomes your storytelling tool.

A. Unleash the Art of Composition

1. Rule of Thirds:

Imagine your frame divided into a tic-tac-toe grid—nine equal parts. The rule of thirds suggests placing your main subject along these grid lines or at their intersections.

This simple guideline creates balance and draws the viewer’s eye to the subject, making your images more engaging.

illustrating the rule of thirds, with a street scene divided into a grid and the main subject placed at the intersections.
Mastering Composition: The Rule of Thirds in Street Photography

2. Leading Lines:

Use natural or man-made lines in your environment to guide the viewer’s gaze towards your subject. Roads, alleys, shadows, and even the path created by a crowd can serve as leading lines, adding depth and direction to your composition.

3. Framing:

Frame your subject within the surroundings. This could be through the use of doorways, windows, arches, or even the branches of a tree.

Framing not only adds context to your shot but also draws attention to your subject, creating layers of storytelling within a single frame.

B. Framing Subjects in a 35mm Frame

With a 35mm lens, you’re working with a wide perspective that beautifully captures both your subject and its surroundings. To make the most of this, try positioning your subject slightly off-center.

This creates a sense of balance and allows the viewer to explore the environment while still focusing on the subject.

Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal. A 35mm lens lets you immerse the viewer in the scene, so step in closer to your subject when the moment calls for it. This intimate approach can reveal emotions and details that might go unnoticed with a longer lens.

perfect photo framing with a 35mm lens
Framing with a 35mm lens

C. The Essence of Storytelling

Remember, street photography is more than just visually pleasing images—it’s about storytelling. Seek out those decisive moments when the narrative unfolds naturally. Whether it’s a fleeting smile, a stolen glance, or a dramatic gesture, capture the essence of human experience.

The streets are teeming with stories waiting to be told, and your 35mm lens is your quill. Be patient, observant, and ready to click that shutter at just the right moment.

Your photos should evoke emotions, provoke thought, and transport your viewers into the scene.

As you venture forth into the world of street photography, keep these principles in mind, but don’t be afraid to break them when the situation demands it.

After all, rules are meant to be bent in the name of artistry. So, set your own rhythm, dance to the beat of the streets, and let your 35mm lens be the instrument of your creative symphony.

7. Approaching Street Photography Ethically and Respectfully

As street photographers, we have a tremendous responsibility to both our craft and the people we photograph. Let’s explore how to approach street photography with respect, ethics, and a dash of humanity.

A. Respect Subjects’ Privacy

The Invisible Observer:

Street photography often involves capturing people in their most candid moments, but this doesn’t mean you should become intrusive. Think of yourself as an invisible observer.

Maintain a respectful distance, both physically and emotionally. Don’t interfere with the scene you’re capturing.

A candid 35mm shot of a photographer crouched low, capturing a fleeting moment of a person walking through a busy street.
The Art of Anticipation: Timing is Everything

Candid vs. Respectful:

While candid shots are the heart of street photography, there’s a fine line between candid and invasive. If your subject notices you and expresses discomfort, consider lowering your camera or simply nodding to acknowledge their presence.

Respect their feelings, and remember that not every shot is worth taking if it compromises someone’s privacy or dignity.

B. Navigate the Legal Landscape

Know the Laws:

Familiarize yourself with the legal considerations of street photography in your region. Laws vary from place to place, so what’s acceptable in one location might not be in another.

Generally, photographing people in public spaces is legal, but be aware of any restrictions related to commercial use, invasion of privacy, or photographing minors.

Model Release Forms:

If you intend to use your street photographs for commercial purposes or in a way that could identify individuals, consider carrying model release forms.

These documents, signed by your subjects, give you permission to use their likeness in your work. While not always required for street photography, they provide an extra layer of legal protection.

C. Building Trust and Obtaining Consent

Engage and Interact:

Sometimes, the best way to obtain stunning street portraits is by engaging with your subjects. Strike up a conversation, ask about their day, or compliment their style. Establishing a connection can lead to more authentic and willing subjects.

A photographer engaging with a subject on the street, smiling and showing their camera while seeking permission to take a photo.
Building Trust: The Ethical Approach to Street Photography

Ask for Consent:

If you feel a strong desire to photograph a specific individual, don’t hesitate to ask for consent. Approach them respectfully, explain your intentions, and let them know how you plan to use the photo.

Be prepared for both acceptance and refusal, and respect their decision without question.

Follow Up:

If you promise to share your work with your subjects, follow up on that promise. Send them a copy of the photo if they agree. This not only builds trust but also fosters a positive perception of street photographers.

By approaching street photography ethically and respectfully, you not only preserve the dignity of your subjects but also enrich your own experience.

Remember, your camera is a tool, but your empathy and respect are what truly make your street photography an art form that transcends

8. Mastering Focus and Timing with a 35mm Lens

In the ever-moving canvas of street photography, mastering focus and timing is akin to catching lightning in a bottle. Let’s dive into techniques and exercises that will help you sharpen these essential skills.

A. Achieving Razor-Sharp Focus

Use Autofocus Wisely:

Modern cameras are equipped with advanced autofocus systems. While they can be a lifesaver, they may not always predict your intentions accurately. Learn to manually override autofocus when needed. Focus and recompose if your subject isn’t in the center of your frame.


In situations where you anticipate action, such as a cyclist whizzing by, pre-focus on a spot where you expect your subject to be. When they enter that zone, your shot will already be in focus.

Zone Focusing:

Consider using zone focusing, a technique where you manually set a specific focus distance and aperture to ensure a range of distances are in focus. This technique is particularly handy for capturing scenes with multiple subjects at different distances from your lens.

B. The Art of Anticipation and Timing

Be Patient and Observant:

Street photography requires a zen-like patience. Observe your surroundings, anticipate interesting moments, and be ready for the unexpected. The more you understand the ebb and flow of a scene, the better you can time your shots.

Predict Movement:

Study human behavior and patterns. If you see a subject walking towards a visually appealing background, position yourself accordingly. Timing your shot as they intersect with that background can yield compelling results.

Capture Gestures and Emotions:

Keep an eye out for gestures, expressions, and emotions. The moment a person’s face lights up with laughter or contemplation can be the decisive moment you’re looking for.

C. Exercises to Hone Your Skills

Zone Focusing Drill:
Practice zone focusing by setting your lens to a fixed distance (e.g., 2 meters) and then shoot candid scenes without adjusting the focus. This helps you develop an instinct for the right distance and aperture settings.

Shadow Play:

Capture scenes in which shadows play a significant role. Experiment with timing to capture intriguing shadow patterns and interactions.


Visit a busy public place and just observe. Don’t take any photos—simply observe people’s behavior and movements. This exercise will help you better understand how people move and interact in public spaces.

Decisive Moment Challenge:

Set yourself a daily or weekly challenge to capture a decisive moment. Focus on timing and emotion. Review your shots and learn from each attempt.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Street photography is an art form where every click of the shutter is a chance to improve your skills. 

9. Post-Processing and Editing for Street Photography

Congratulations on capturing some stunning moments on the streets! Now, let’s talk about how to bring out the full potential of your street photographs through post-processing and editing.

split-screen comparison of a street photo before and after post-processing, highlighting the subtle enhancements.
Post-Processing Magic: Enhancing Street Photography

A. The Role of Post-Processing

Post-processing is where your raw captures truly come to life. It’s the digital darkroom where you can enhance colors, tones, and composition to make your images pop and convey the emotions you felt when you pressed the shutter.

B. Recommended Software and Tools

  • Adobe Lightroom:
    Lightroom is a go-to for many photographers. It offers powerful tools for adjusting exposure, contrast, and colors. Plus, its non-destructive editing means you can always revert to your original photo.
  • Adobe Photoshop:
    For more intricate edits, Photoshop is a staple. You can remove distractions, clone stamp, and apply advanced retouching techniques to refine your images.
  • Capture One:
    Capture One is a professional-grade editing software known for its exceptional color grading and tethering capabilities. It’s especially favored by those who shoot in RAW format.
  • Affinity Photo:
    Affinity Photo is a budget-friendly alternative to Photoshop, offering a wide range of editing tools and excellent performance.

C. Maintaining Authenticity

  • Don’t Overdo It:
    While post-processing can enhance your photos, avoid over-editing. Retain the authenticity of street photography by preserving the natural feel of the scene.
  • Respect the Story:
    Editing should complement the story your photo tells, not overshadow it. Keep in mind the emotions and atmosphere you originally captured.
  • Be Mindful of Ethics:
    Avoid altering the reality of your street photos in a way that misrepresents the scene. Respect the ethics and integrity of your subjects and your craft.

10. Showcasing Your Work

You’ve polished your photos, and now it’s time to share your vision with the world. Let’s explore how to showcase your street photography and make your mark in the photography community.

A collage of 35mm street photos

A. Sharing and Promoting Your Work

  • Social Media:
    Platforms like Instagram, Flickr, and 500px are excellent for sharing your work with a wide audience. Use relevant hashtags to reach the right audience.
  • Photography Websites and Blogs:
    Create your photography website or blog to showcase your portfolio and share stories behind your shots. Platforms like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace make it easy to get started.

B. Creating a Cohesive Portfolio

  • Curate Your Best Shots:
    A cohesive portfolio tells a story. Select your best work that fits a particular theme, style, or concept. Quality over quantity is key.
  • Consistent Editing Style:
    Maintain a consistent editing style throughout your portfolio. This helps create a unified and recognizable body of work.

C. The Power of Feedback and Improvement

  • Seek Constructive Criticism:
    Share your work with fellow photographers and seek feedback. Constructive criticism can help you see your work from different perspectives and grow as an artist.
  • Continuous Learning:
    The world of photography is ever-evolving. Stay updated with the latest trends, techniques, and gear. Attend workshops, courses, and photography exhibitions to keep learning and improving.

Remember, your journey in street photography is a continuous evolution. Embrace the feedback, celebrate your successes, and learn from your challenges.

With dedication and a passion for storytelling, your street photography can leave a lasting impact in the world of visual art.

11. Learning from the Masters

Now, let’s take a moment to gain inspiration from the true maestros of street photography—those who have mastered the craft using the beloved 35mm lens.

A. Renowned Street Photographers and Their 35mm Lenses

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson:
    Henri Cartier-Bresson, often called the “father of modern street photography,” wielded a 35mm Leica camera like an extension of his eye. His use of this lens allowed him to seamlessly blend into the streets, capturing decisive moments with unmatched authenticity.
  • Daido Moriyama:
    Daido Moriyama, a Japanese street photography icon, is known for his gritty and intense black-and-white shots. He favored a 35mm lens to get up close and personal with his subjects, creating a raw and visceral experience for viewers.
  • Garry Winogrand:
    Garry Winogrand’s frenetic and energetic street photography was captured primarily with a 35mm lens. His work is a testament to the lens’s versatility, as he brilliantly framed the chaos and vitality of the urban landscape.
A captivating 35mm black-and-white street photograph with strong leading lines, guiding the viewer's eye through the frame.
Leading Lines: Crafting Visual Journeys in Street Photography”

B. Analyzing Their Techniques

Let’s dissect the work of these luminaries and uncover what makes their street photography with a 35mm lens truly exceptional:

  • Embracing Authenticity:
    The common thread among these photographers is their commitment to authenticity. They didn’t strive for perfection; they sought to capture life as it unfolded, warts and all. This authenticity resonates deeply with viewers and stands as a testament to the power of candid storytelling.
  • Composition Mastery:
    Pay close attention to their use of composition techniques such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing. These elements not only guide the viewer’s eye but also add depth and layers to their photographs.
  • Timing and Decisive Moments:
    Study how they mastered the art of anticipation and timing. Their ability to capture the right moment, the decisive moment, is what separates their work from the ordinary.


In the ever-evolving world of photography, the 35mm lens remains a timeless companion for capturing the essence of life on the streets. Let’s wrap up our journey through this captivating realm with a few parting words.

A. The Key Takeaways

  • Master Your Gear: Understand your 35mm lens and your camera’s settings to make the most of this versatile tool.
  • Composition Matters: Compose your shots thoughtfully using principles like the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing to create visually compelling narratives.
  • Respect and Ethics: Approach street photography ethically and respectfully, ensuring that your subjects’ privacy and dignity are preserved.
  • Timing is Everything: Hone your skills in focusing and timing to capture those elusive and decisive moments.
  • Post-Processing Artistry: Use post-processing to enhance your photos without losing the authenticity of the moment.
  • Showcase Your Vision: Share your work through various platforms, create a cohesive portfolio, and embrace continuous improvement.

B. Embrace the Journey

Remember, street photography is not just about the final image; it’s about the journey, the stories, and the people you encounter along the way. Practice, experiment, and embrace the challenges. Every click of the shutter is a step forward in your evolution as a street photographer.

C. The Timeless Appeal of a 35mm lens

As you embark on your own adventures through the bustling streets, never forget the enduring charm of the 35mm lens. It’s not just a piece of glass; it’s a window into a world of stories waiting to be told. 

What do you think about 35mm Lens Street Photography? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.


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