Your Street Photography Workshop Guide to San Francisco
San Francisco is not only known as “The Golden City”, a nickname that goes back to the times of the times of the great gold rush, it is more than likely also one of the most photographed cities in the world. The most famous and, without a doubt, the most photographed motive of San Francisco has to be the Golden Gate Bridge. The massive suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate strait, the one-mile-wide and three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Travel guides all over the world describe it as “probably the most beautiful bridge in the world”.
As always, there are different locations a particular shot can be taken from. Baker’s Beach is a good starting point to get a nice distance shot of the bridge as the beach offers plenty of rocks to create foreground interest.
But, if you are striving for a “real” street photography shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, your go-to-location has to be Vista Point. From here, you not only get a chance to get a picture of the bridge with the San Francisco skyline in the background, it is also a great location to shoot directly down the length of the bridge.
For avid festival goers as well as photographers of any level, the famous street photography festival invites thousands of visitors each year, to dive into the diverse cityscape of this amazing city off the coast of the Atlantic. Workshops, competitions and photo walks give ample opportunity to explore the city center and other hot spots worth having a shot at:
Mid-Market and SoMa
Right in the city center, for example, the neighborhood around the Mid-Market – area offers a lot of opportunities for trendy and colorful street motives. Starting at Market Street and leading down to Mission Street. The vibrant Tenderloin-district offers a busy nightlife as well as quirky corner shops and the constant buzzing of people going about their everyday life. The South Market area, locally known as SoMa, stretches approximately from the 10th Street to the Mission Bay neighborhood.
The contrast of urban wasteland next to old warehouses, some of which have been converted into the headquarters of multinational high-tech start-ups offers a wide variety of motive with or without intentional movement. Popular spots for photo-shoots are the ice skating rink and the restored carousel close to the Children’s Creativity Museum.
Chinatown and the North Beach Area
Chinatown, one of San Francisco’s oldest neighborhoods, is another corner that lends itself to the ambitious street photographer. Not only is it the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in Northern America, it also offers unique buildings such as the Sing Chong Building, which was the first building to be completely restored after the devastating earthquake in 1906, the Bank of Canton and numerous houses of worship. Regular events such as the celebrations around the Lunar New Year and the Underground Lacquerware Exhibit in July offer additional opportunities for great street shots.
Close to Chinatown, and equally as interesting with a completely different cultural background is the area around North Beach. This area has a lot to offer for visitors, tourists and photographers. To name but a few, this is what you can expect when you take yourself and your camera downtown San Francisco:
- A multitude of excellent cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants
- Cultural diversity at its best: Looking at how Little Italy and Chinatown intertwine here, one way of putting this would be “East meets South”. And this meeting creates a diversity that has to be called unmatched – tourists mingle with millionaires, first time tourists enjoy the company of locals who almost never leave the area – and everybody adds to the vibrancy and life of the city in his or her very own way
- Diversified storefronts and an ever changing architecture offers a lot of possibilities for interesting structural shots with or without intentional movement or portrait photography
- San Francisco’s attractions do not end with nightfall: shooting the nightlife is equally as challenging and, in some places, even more interesting than catching the atmosphere in daylight.
Historically, this part of San Francisco is home to a large Italian American community, which is why it is commonly referred to as “Little Italy”. North Beach is part of the old Barbary Coast and some of its history is still visible in old buildings and museums. It was here that numerous immigrants from South Africa, Europe and Australia first set foot on the shores of the American continent. Thousands of Italianimmigrants arrived here at the end of the 19th century and turned the neighborhood into what we see today: A charming and exciting place with unique architecture and stunning mural paintings offering a multitude of fascinating motives.
Amazing Street Photography from San Francisco on Flickr:
Museums and Art Galleries worth visiting
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Also known as SFMOA offers plenty of opportunity to admire the work of famous fellow photographers and allows the visitor to see the world through a different lens. The SFMOA was one of the first big museums in the United States to recognize photography as an independent art form. The different exhibits span a time period of more than 150 years with the oldest works dating back to the 1850ies and cover a wide range of topics such as “About time” and “Japanese Photography from Post War to Now”.
The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
The photography collection of the so called De Young Museum of Fine Arts displays the history of photography from to early days up to the present and give the unique opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the past and the present of this unique way of capturing life at any moment in history.
The Fraenkel Gallery is another very interesting place where you can admire the artwork of well-known photographers such as Hiroshi Sugimoto and David Sherry. In the past, the museum also showed an exhibition of the works of Sophie Calle, an artist who developed her own way of using photography to highlight sociological issues and autobiographical investigations.
Street photography Courses and Street Photography Workshops San Francisco
If you are striving to turn your hobby into a professional career, then learning from the best is the best strategy for success.
Street Photography Workshop: San Francisco
The RayKo Photo Center on 428 Third Street offers an intensive 2-day Street photography workshop San Francisco designed to help you understand the narrative, aesthetic, and emotional aspects of photography in combination with visual story telling. Every person you meet on the streets of San Francisco, has her own story to tell. Your job as a street photographer is to catch a glimpse of that story through the lens of your camera. Your instructor on this street photography workshop is Emilio Bañuelos, one of the most experienced street photographers in San Francisco.
Immerse yourself into the city and make the best of the opportunity of learning from somebody who does not shy away from portraying important social issues and the darker side of the streets of San Francisco. From defining your vision for the street photography workshop San Francisco to building a story to editing your visual narrative: Emilio will be with you all the way up to the finished workshop portfolio.
Street photography 2: Finding your style
Other interesting street photography workshops San Francisco in the Rayko Center include Street Photography Lvl. 2: Finding your style and is the perfect choice for you if you are interested in working on a longterm photographic series to develop your personal style. Like in the first course, your teacher will be Emilio Bañuelos.
Street photography courses San Francisco with STREETFOTO
If you feel like combining a visit to one of the most famous festivals in town with an in depth Street photography course, then STREETFOTO is the go to place for you. Held every year in June, the festival offers plenty of different courses to expand your knowledge in different areas of street photography. From a 4-day workshop with Richard Bram to a 1-day workshop with Jack Simon the highly experienced professionals will teach you all the secrets you need to know to become a professional street photographer.
Eric Kim Street photography workshops San Francisco
Once a year, usually in April, the world renowned street photographer Eric Kim offers a chance to accompany him on a tour through the streets of San Francisco. His workshop earlier in the year carried the title “Conquer your Fears in Street Photography. Within this two-day workshop, Kim teaches will teach you to understand the fundamentals of street photography, shows you how to compose a visually compelling scene and challenges you to conquer your fear of shooting street photography. Working hand in hand with Eric Kim will be a once in a lifetime experience you cannot miss if you want to learn from the experts in the industry.
The 4-day street photography course San Francisco with National Geographic – a unique experience
This unique workshops runs on different dates throughout the year and is always led by one of the fantastic photographers of the National Geographic team. It is the ideal option for everybody who is an amateur and has an interest in improving his or her digital photography. Daily critique sessions with your experienced teachers like Catherine Karnow and others gives you the opportunity to learn from them.