How To Photograph Beautiful Street Art

Colorful street art at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany.

I love street art. It’s great to see and a joy to photograph. Street art can be appreciated for it’s visual qualities and for the social, political and environmental themes it explores.

What I love most about street art is how it opens up previously derelict areas, such as city laneways, and brings them back to life attracting locals and tourists alike. Street art has a lot to do with the revival of the inner city and I’m totally supportive of that.

Street scene depicted at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany.

Amazing Street Art At The East Side Gallery

One of the best areas I’ve visited for street art is the East Side Gallery in Berlin. The East Side Gallery, situated parallel to the river Spree (which marked the actual border between East and West Berlin at the time), displays a large amount of images that explore a time of change and the artist’s hopes for a better future.

This 1,316 meter section of the former Berlin Wall is situated right next to the busy Mühlenstraße. It’s a wonderful place to explore and photograph. During my visit I was surprised that most of the street art was behind a thick wire barricade. Fortunately there was just enough room for me to poke my lens through the wire and make my photos.

Thank goodness because I’d walked a long way, in sweltering mid 30C temperatures, to reach the East Side Gallery and it would have been extremely disappointing not to have been able to photograph some of the splendid art there. I’m really thankful I had the opportunity.

Street Art showing a scene, possibly from World War One, of two soldiers in gas masks firing a machine gun.

Melbourne Street Art | Unusual And Unexpected

The work above was a favorite of mine for a number of years. I found it in a secluded part of Centre Place (which I believe was commonly referred to as Soup Alley during the 1980's) in Melbourne, Australia. The notion of, what I assume are, two WWI soldiers in gas masks surrounded by what I believe to be ballet dancers is both surreal and beautiful.

To keep the message as pure as possible I decided to render the original image into black and white as it emphasizes the lines and shapes that are dominant in this composition.

A luminous piece of street art at Hosier Lane, Melboure made with the Sony a7r II camera at ISO 800 1/250 second @ f4.

Hosier Lane is one of Melbourne’s most famous street art sites. Because of it’s relatively large size and position in the CBD it’s also probably Melbourne’s most popular. The art changes frequently in Hosier Lane, which is one of the reasons it's such a fun place to visit, again and again.

When it comes to subject matter in street art I particular love photographing faces. I can appreciate the geometric patterns and colors in a lot of street art, but I’m most drawn to the humanity explored in a beautifully painted face, whether that be on a canvas or an alley wall.

Looking through the wire at colorful walls in La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

How To Photograph In Vibrant La Boca

La Boca is an edgy tourist area in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. It’s a colorful and vibrant part of town. Just keep your eyes open, particularly if you’re toting a camera and traveling alone, as it’s also known for petty theft.

Check out this previous post for a much more detailed description of how to photograph the La Boca precinct.

A portrait of a young woman in inner city Melbourne, Australia

Street Art Provides Great Backgrounds For Portraits

The above image was made, in the few seconds available to me, near the end of a private photography class I was running in inner city Melbourne.

At such events my job is to help others make photos, but I managed to make a few quick images at days end. This photo allowed me to incorporate an element of street art into the background of this portrait.

A beautiful example of street art, this female angel in suburban Melbourne.

Do You Love Angels? | I Think They're Glorious

Whether it’s the concept of an angel or images of angels I’m a fan. I was fortunate to discover this particular artwork on a wall outside the Brunswick Street Oval in North Fitzroy, an inner city suburb of Melbourne.

Perhaps what I like most about this image is the way the artist has imbued this mythical figure with a strong human presence. That notion was very strong in my mind when I made the photo, in camera, and also during processing of the image on the desktop.

Beautifully crafted mural of two rural folk at the Brim Grain Solo site just out of the town of Brim in the Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia.

The Brim Silo is famous throughout Australia. Brim is a tiny town in the Wimmera region of Victoria and I discovered this extraordinary art work while exploring some of the regions towns on a long drive home from a gig I played in the town of Cowangie in the far west of Victoria.

This image features a section of the larger work painted on these massive grain solos. I love the way the painted figures merge with the underlying texture of the grain solos.

Whether you’re out and about in the city or driving through a small country town I encourage you to do a bit of research and seek out local street art sites. It’s just such a buzz to discover and then photograph these often surprising and beautiful sites.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru