40 Awe-Inspiring Street Photos That'll Change How You Think About City Streets

Street photography captures the cities you know from a whole new perspective.

Famous cities of the world tend to have photos and landmarks that we know immediately on sight. Pictures of the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, for example, are recognized across the globe as belonging to their respective metropolises, and for those that live or have visited these cities, the pictures will inevitably evoke other images and experiences from that city.

Enter trashhand and street photography. Professional photographer trashhand taught an extremely popular class on Skillshare about capturing the life of your city through street photography, and from thousands of students, hundreds of people have uploaded beautiful projects that capture their cities as they see it. You won’t see the usual landmarks, but what you will see is a city seen intimately through the eyes of photographers that love where they live.

Each project has 4 pictures that capture different techniques: 

  • Street portraits: a picture of a fellow human on the street, meant to evoke a personal story from the image. 
  • Look ups: a visually striking angle that makes use of lots of negative space, this picture is taken from a low angle, looking up a building or structure.  
  • Motion: taken with a slower shutter speed to create a blurred effect, these pictures help capture the kinetic energy that makes every city buzz. 
  • Night shots: as the name suggests, these are photos taken in low light without the help of natural sunlight.

See how each student captured their city by clicking the pictures below and checking out their full series. 

New York City

Easily the most recognizable city in the world, New York City is captured by CJ Treasure in a way that is vaguely recognizable but completely unique. The inclusion of yellow taxis in his motion shot evokes the quintessentially New York obsession with cabs; juxtapose that hustle and bustle with the almost frightening darkness in CJ’s street portrait, which shows the lonelier side of the literal underbelly of the city on a subway platform.

Paris

Tristan’s project on Paris shows an eye for symmetry and patterns in this romantic metropolis. We love the way he captures the curvature of the office building and how the glass appears to be closer to water or completely transparent as it reflects the sky. Of course, no picture series on Paris would be complete without pigeons, and Tristan does not disappoint.

Boston

Devin O’Brien’s project has two photographs of Boston that are focused on squares and public promenades, and in these public areas, you’re able to see the livelihood of the city. The motion shot of a merry-go-round is evocative of Alice in Wonderland. Its purple-lighted, blurring top makes it look like a psychedelic, neon mushroom. In the night shot, it takes your eyes a little while to process what's going on, but you can see a street performer flipping over the girl in the center of the picture. The timing coupled with the background lighting from the street light and the menorah make it an impressive photo.

Never tried Skillshare before? Eager to get out on the street to take some pics? Click below to get your first month of Skillshare free!

Across the pond, Ethan captured these pictures of London for his project. The perspective and depth of field on his landscape photos give a sense of looking hopefully towards a horizon, whether it be up a building or following an Underground train: a crucial component of the capital of the United Kingdom.  He writes in his description about the effort he put into getting these shots exactly as he envisioned them, like waiting for 40 minutes while a subway corridor cleared out. Given the finished products, we’re glad he put the time in.

Los Angeles

As a newcomer to Los Angeles after moving from Puerto Rico, Pedro Izquierdo managed to capture the everyday visuals of a Los Angeleno like a true native. His look up shot, with it’s bright red color, blue sky, and palm tree sneaking into the right side of the frame, contrasts greatly with the other students’ projects we saw of skyscrapers and illustrates the California vibe that makes Los Angeles so appealing to many.

Calgary

Photographer Grant Gaurin captured Calgary elegantly in his photo project. Unlike other perspective shots we’ve seen here, Grant shows a different take on the motion shot by shifting the vanishing point to the left side of the frame instead of right in the middle. The glowing sculpture in his night shot reminds us of a bioluminescent jellyfish floating around the depths of the deep sea; so beautiful!

Stockholm

From the capital of Sweden, David Thomsson grabbed some great pictures of his city, communicating a brighter, less gritty tone that was struck with previous projects. Don’t let the relative brightness fool you; his street portrait of a hunched panhandler, kneeling in the snow in front of a store proclaiming “Final Sale”, offers a deeper commentary on the state of society in Stockholm.

If you're ready to get out there with your camera, check out trashhand's class by clicking below!

Representing the south of the United States is Jorge’s project that dives into Houston. His structural photography is visually engrossing: the stark contrast of the whites and blacks in the look up, the misting water and lights reflecting off the fountain in his motion shot, and the surreal, blue-ish glow of the city overlook night shot are all qualities that popped out to us in these pictures.

Toronto

Another representative from Canada, Bryson Gibbons captures a city full of movement. Even in the night and street portrait shots, Bryson’s frame is full of energy, focusing on a man on the move trying to get to work, and a blurred cityscape at night showing the buzz of cars driving through the buildings of a commercial district. His look up is a surreal counterpart, showing skyscrapers jutting up into a huge fog bank.

Chicago

While taking a vacation on trashhand’s home turf, South Florida native Jerry Kestel took the opportunity in Chicago to dive into the photo project. Going high up to the famous Ledge to the depths of the subway (with what appears to be an antique arm chair) to get a complete look at the windy city. Talk about how timing can really take pictures to another level: check out the look up with the airplane overhead, perfectly centered between the top of the skyscrapers!

Want to learn from trashhand how to take awesome pictures like these of your hometown? Check out his class Street Photography: Capture the Life of Your City on Skillshare and get to snapping.