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Photographing Graffiti

Techniques > Photographing Graffiti

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Category: General Photography

Photographing Graffiti - Love it or hate it graffiti is all over so get your camera out and photograph it.

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Graffiti is something that's covered bridges and walls in cities for generations and even though the colourful shapes, images and letters divide the crowd's opinion it's not something that's going to go away any time soon. So, whether you think it's art or a bit of an eye-sore it's a subject that's well worth photographing.

As you'll be walking around pack a zoom lens so you have a variety of focal lengths to play with without the added bulk of several lenses, plus a camera and any other accessories you plan on taking. You can take a smaller-bodied camera out with you to save on weight but it's not a necessity. Plus, many DSLRs, including the Canon EOS 70D, aren't really that heavy now (the EOS 70D, body only, weighs 755 grams).

For extra support take a monopod as it's easier to walk with than a tripod and if you want to take a bag, make it a small one as hitting someone in the face with an oversized bag as you turn around won't make you very popular. Pocket a polariser to emphasis colours and take a friend with you if you're planning on visiting areas which aren't considered to be the safest places.

Your main decision is if you're going to make the graffiti your main focus or if you're going to shoot the graffiti to show where it is. If you're going for the second option you'll need to step back and include a lot of surrounding detail. Taking several shots for a panorama can work well or try shooting through a fence or other industrial objects to give your graffiti photos a different look to those usually shot. If you don't want to include several buildings try framing the graffiti with a broken wall, pipes, gaps in bridges or buildings. Signs or people can add an extra point of interest to your image especially if you use a slow shutter speed so there movement's ghosted through the shot.

If you're filling the frame with the graffiti watch your exposure as close up shots of tags and other drawings have a tendency to over expose. To emphasis the colours used in the graffiti use a polarising filter or switch to black and white and try using some coloured filters. If it's a rainy day graffiti looks great reflected in puddles or head to a canal and see if there's any graffiti along the walls that surround it for reflections on a non-rainy day.


Canon EOS 70D - Capture the moment at seven frames per second. Click here for more information on the high performance EOS 70D, featuring 7fps full resolution shooting, an advanced 19-point AF system and Canon’s unique Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology.

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Sava  4 United Kingdom
24 Sep 2013 - 5:02 PM

Agree with what you are doing here
Have been finding Street Art locally and capturing it before it disappears, as inevitably is does.
Either painted over by the council or other graffiti artists painting over what is there.
Next one I am thinking about is tags. The signatures that people leave. No street art just the "Mark" that this is their patch.

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