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Toronto radio host Mocha Frap modelling in Toronto on the street at Yonge-Dundas Square

When it comes to amazing street photography you have to look far and wide first to gain an understanding of what street photography actually is. It can range from random images of people walking down the street to modelling photo shoots like the ones shown here.  These images are taken in Toronto with female models and radio host Mocha Frap from KISS 92.5.

Female model posing at Toronto's famous Kensington Market
Female model posing at Toronto’s famous Kensington Market

Street portrait photography

Shooting street model photography is one of the most rewarding styles to me.  The challenges to street portrait photography are many but the results are often striking and not something you can easily stage in a studio.  You have to deal with so many random things happening all at the same time and usually when you don’t want them to happen. You’ll have people walking in the background when you don’t want them to or when you do want people it’s like a ghost town.  Add in to that your model who will be extra sensitive as everyone is looking at her. She needs to be very confident and literally ignore the world around her. Giving your model clear direction is also a challenge with all the noise and distraction. Running through some basic items before the photo shoot will pay back 10X over when you’re on the street trying to capture a portrait photo.  Here is a list of simple things to remember when you’re trying to capture some great street photography.

Toronto street photographer David Reid taking pictures of female model in Graffiti Alley
Female model in graffiti alley Toronto

5 tips for street portrait photographers

  1. Stay hydrated – Bring some water bottles for both you and the model. You’ll be moving fast from location to location and depending on the time of year it can get hot pretty quick.  So bring a couple of (cold) water bottles for you and the team.
  2. Stay flexible – This is both physically and philosophically.  It’s best to have some idea of what you want to shoot but when doing location street photos things can change very quickly.  So, be flexible in your vision, location, movements and your models strengths. Going with the flow and having a happier time will come across in the images.   
  3. Scout the location – Get familiar with where you’re going to shoot.  Toronto street photography can be taken almost anywhere and at anytime of the year.  Snapping a great street photo takes planning and as said above flexibility. If you can’t go to the location before hand use Google Maps to ‘walk around’ and get familiar with possible locations in the area.  Even candid street photography can produce some great images. 
  4. Simple instructions –  Some of the best urban photography is a result of simplicity.  When taking portraits outside you’re faced with all sorts of distractions.  Talk with the model before you start shooting and settle on some basic ways of communicating.  Simple words to help instruct your model to tilt their head or move a certain way or change angles will be extremely helpful during the photo shoot.  Also, hand movements are an easy way to have your model position themselves in crowds or over long distances. 
  5. Camera Gear – Pack light but right!  I tend to pack 3 lenses and sometimes 2 camera bodies for street portraits. The goal is to stay fluid and reduce the time needed to change lenses or gear.  I’ll also have with me a 5 in 1 reflector and possibly a flash.

Beginner street photography in the streets of Toronto

Toronto female models posing in the streets across from The Eaton Centre
Female models in Toronto Yonge-Dundas Square

When you search for famous street photographers you’ll often find locations in Europe or New York city that takes advantage of the architecture in those areas.  When it comes to Toronto and can be tough to think of places where you can create cool street photos. Well this is the art of street photography, capture your location in a way that makes it cool!  As a beginner you’re faced with so many challenges everything from where to shoot to selecting the best street camera.  Street photography is a bit of luck, inspiration and copying.  Yes copying other people’s work. There is nothing wrong with taking a look at someone else’s work, especially when you’re a beginner.  If you need some inspiration take a look at these top street photographers.

street photographer in Toronto modelling photo shoot
Toronto street photography modelling shoot

Street photographer examples


Street photography in general can be very rewarding and having one or two models always adds to the fun. Toss in a local radio star (Mocha Frap who by the way takes some cool Instagram photos) and you’re set for some cool photos.

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