top of page
  • Writer's pictureKhotso Mokalobe

Urban Photography Guide: Tips for South African Gen Z Photographers

 Male fashion model wearing avant garde outfit on rooftop

In the bustling streets and towering structures, every corner holds a story waiting to be told through your lens. From the raw energy of street life to the architectural marvels that shape our urban landscapes, this guide is your passport to unlocking the secrets of compelling urban photography. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, these tips and techniques will help you elevate your urban photography.

Tip #1 - Urban Life

Male wearing shirt and tie

In the fast-paced urban landscapes of South Africa, capturing authentic moments can be the key to compelling photography. Embrace the mantra of 'shoot first, ask later' to seize candid shots that reflect the raw energy and stories of city life. Focus on people and their interactions with the urban environment, seeking out decisive moments that reveal genuine emotions and connections. Look for incongruous elements that add intrigue and depth to your images, creating a narrative that resonates with viewers.

Tip #2 - Urban Elements as Leading Lines

Leading lines are like visual pathways that guide the viewer's gaze through a photograph, leading them to the focal point of the image. In urban photography, these lines can be found in the form of streets, buildings, bridges, and other elements of the cityscape. Whether they are horizontal, vertical, diagonal, converging, or curved, these lines can add depth and dynamism to your photos. Remember to stay spontaneous and keep an eye out for interesting lines in your surroundings, as they can turn an ordinary scene into a captivating photograph.

"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough" – Robert Capa

Avant garde fashion jacket

Tip #3 - Play with Light and Shadows

When photographing in the city, don't overlook the power of light and shadows. Buildings can create fascinating patterns of light and shadow, which can be used to add depth and interest to your photos. Each building has its own unique style, casting its own distinct shadow patterns. Use these shadows to frame your subject and create compelling compositions. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to make the most of these natural, urban textures.

psychward jacket

Tip #4 - Capturing Urban Textures

Texture adds depth and character to your urban photography, enhancing the visual appeal of your images. It refers to the surface quality of an object, which is revealed through variations in shape, tone, and color depth. To capture textures effectively, use a large aperture (low F-stop number) to create a shallow depth of field, ensuring your subject is sharply focused while the background is blurred. Additionally, ensure your frame is well-lit to highlight the textures and play around with different angles to find the most captivating perspective.

Tip #5 - Focus on Details

Attention to detail is key in urban photography, ensuring that every element in your frame contributes to the story you want to tell. Before taking a shot, carefully review your composition to eliminate any distractions that may detract from your main subject. Shoot with purpose, keeping your story or theme in mind to guide your photography. By focusing on the details, you can create compelling images that resonate with your audience and showcase the beauty of urban environments.

man fixing his sun glassess

Urban photography isn't just about taking pictures; it's about telling stories. As Gen Z photographers, we have a unique opportunity to capture the essence of our cities in a way that resonates with our generation. By embracing the spontaneity of 'shoot first, ask later', finding beauty in the details, and playing with light and shadows, we can create images that not only look cool but also feel authentic. So, whether you're exploring the streets of Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Durban, remember to keep your eyes open for those fleeting moments that define urban life. Get out there, get creative, and share your unique perspective with the world. Sign up for our news letter to receive exclusive tips, tutorials, and inspiration straight to your inbox!

A close up of psychward jacket



bottom of page