Focus on the details

We’re often after the obvious. We see a person whose look is intriguing to us so we take an image of him or her. But often it’s worth thinking twice about what exactly is interesting before hitting the shutter button. Closing in on a certain detail often makes an image easier to understand on the one hand, and gives it more depth and mystery on the other hand. Here are some things I’ve been loving to focus on the most recently.





Hands are an obvious and relatively easy detail to focus on. Great about them is that they can tell so much about a scene or about the emotions of a certain person, without showing their face. I think it’s not without a reason that the life line on someone’s hand is believed to stand for their destiny in life.


Just the hands indicate a discussion taking place



Just pay attention to hands sometimes when you’re walking around on the streets. Wether it is someone just having them in an interesting position or people making gestures, why not isolate them from the people and make them the subject? Be mindful though. You might have to get really close in order is isolate them.





Similar to umbrellas, the right shoes can create this beautiful, classy atmosphere. There’s a rumor that the first thing about a man, which women look at, are the shoes. Maybe shoes express certain things about a person’s behaviour. Are they formal, colourful, casual or is someone even barefoot? All those things instantly create an image of a certain type of person in our mind.

When focusing on shoes I feel that the composition becomes much more important as in other types of images. So pay even more attention to light or leading lines which  put emphasis on your subject or even play with it.


Just a play with black and white





Another detail that can create atmospheric images are hats. There are multiple people on Instagram whose main subjects are hats. Somehow these images never get old or abundant. But of course it matters how you place the hat within your shot. You shouldn’t just take the same image over and over again. Often a contrasty background is enough the make the hat stand out. If you then add some context to that, just looking at your image will instantly come with thoughts about a potential story.


The hint of his face gives him personality and the background puts him in a traditional context



When thinking about the shots with hats as their subjects which I like the most, I find that the best ones always have a personality connected to the hat. This makes it unique and gives it character. The difficulty however is to keep it simple. Once you add too many elements and the image isn’t clear anymore, the hat looses its ability to work wonders.


Theres too much going on in this composition so the hat doesn’t shape the atmosphere anymore.





Looking for connections of colours on the streets is an old part of street photography. Sometimes there are situations where people wear the same colours or a pattern on the ground repeats itself in someone’s clothing. In that case you want to get as close as possible to just show all the colours but not too many distracting things. Closing in can be vital for your image.


It look me almost a month to finally come across someone wearing a red-white combination



I haven’t seen these crazy coincidences that make you just wonder how it could happen. It’s probably a combination of lack of patience and not being at the right place at the right time. But practicing on shots like this will prepare me for when the right moment comes.



Use details to get a different view


If you’re stuck in a creative rut, focusing on a certain detail is a great way to get new ideas. I think in street photography it’s always about getting new inspirations and working around limitations, whether they come from your camera, from the conditions of the day or from yourself. So getting creative in regards to the way in which you communicate certain message or emotion is essential to not get lost in a circle of taking the same images day after day.

An earlier post on how to get out of a creative block:

Which detail do you love to focus on and what is your approach when doing so? Let me know!


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All images are subject to copyright © Aram Franke 2019

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