In order for the street to speak to you, you’ve got to stay out there and see what it is. ~Bill Cunningham

I recently watched the wonderful documentary Bill Cunningham New York and loved the above quote by him (and many other quotes in the film!) as he describes his philosophy and approach to street photography. He is such an interesting photographer and person–a household name if you read The New York Times style section–renowned for decades of work capturing the street styles of everyday New Yorkers and celebrities alike.

Between that, and seeing the trailer for the upcoming Vivian Maier documentary, I got to thinking…we should celebrate street photography here at Mortal Muses in the month of May! Now I know this theme might send a world of shivers down some of your spines, but I’m going to challenge you to head out there and step out of your comfort zone if you can.

the watch salesmanthe watch salesman by urban muser.

Perhaps you don’t live somewhere urban where the bustling sidewalks and shops constantly offer up interesting scenes and camera-worthy characters. But don’t count yourself out. Instead, let’s agree to keep the definition “loose” this month. When I say street, it doesn’t literally have to be street. What I’m really after is seeing you capture a private moment in a public space. Get outside, explore, and shoot. Whether it’s a big city, a small town or a country road, try to capture a stranger in their daily routine or surroundings.  Seek out the crowds and interesting faces in an airport, in a restaurant, or on a train…

liz_subwayBoyz by lizzard_nyc.

Leftovers.leftovers by urban muser.

Or find your subjects at a festival or a parade…

Midtown Village Fall FestivalMidtown Village Fall Festival by soupatraveler.

In a park or at the mall…

fountain girlsFountain Girls by Meghan Davidson.

{202/365+1v.2} Watching the shoppersWatching The Shoppers by jennifée.

As the opening quote above by Bill Cunningham suggests, you need to “stay out there”. These shots don’t always come quickly or easily; the ability to shoot with confidence comes with practice, and time. One tip that always works for me is trying to “wait and see.” If you come across an interesting wall or background, plant yourself and wait for someone to walk into your frame, like Cara did here…

cara1this stall should be a canvas for local artists by

black and white on & white on bleecker by urban muser.

Or maybe you’ll want to try a drive-by shooting, like Holly did on her trip to South Africa last year…

Drive-by Shootingdrive-by shooting by soupatraveler.

This was more of a “walk-by”, but I never stopped moving as I went past this woman in midtown several months ago…

passerbypasserby by urban muser.

Maybe you’ll be inspired by some street fashionistas in your travels. I’m no Sartorialist, nor would my photos make the cut on Humans of New York, but I like to capture a stylish New Yorker every once in a while…

street stylered is the new black by urban muser.

Shoot in color, shoot in black & white. Film, mobile or digital. Try to tell a stranger’s story this month. I’ll leave you with another quote, in hopes it will inspire you to get out there and show us what catches your eye.

A camera can get you close without the burden of commitment. It’s a nifty device that way, a magical passport into people’s lives with no permanent strings attached. ~Nina Berman

And don’t forget to share! Post your images in our flickr pool for a chance to be featured here on the blog in May, and let us know in the comments if there are any street photographers who inspire you.

Above all, have fun!

Christy | Urban Muser