Street Photography Etiquette – Buskers

Was lucky enough to come across this guitar guy today, on the corner of Flinders Lane and Degraves – a case of the usual suspects, to some degree.

The subject was more than happy for me to poke around him for a minute or two, taking some great images. I don’t often shoot buskers as they are a little too easy – all the skill around looking interesting is provided by them. This guys was so happy that I just couldn’t resist though.

It will always serve you well to remember that buskers busk for money. They are there because it is a job for many of them. If you stop to listen or spend some time watching, you should put a buck or two in their hat.

This is doubly true if you cross the line and take a photo. If they are interesting enough that you want to shoot them, then they are acting almost as a paid model for you. Buskers can get pretty narky if you spend a few minutes sticking a camera in their face for free. They have spent a lot of time learning their craft, and have made the effort to get out and perform.

If you want the best from a busker as a subject, go up to them with some gold coins in hand. I recommend $5 plus in Melbourne. Open up your hand like you are feeding a horse and ask “mind if I take a couple of shots?”. If you get a nod, complete the “deal” by chucking the coins in their hat, and start photographing. If they are interesting enough to shoot, then it is worth getting on their good side by offering a few dollars.

This guy was happy for me to do anything for a few minutes to get the shot!

I also usually pop a card with my email address in it into their hat as well, in case they would like a copy.


4 Responses to “Street Photography Etiquette – Buskers”

  1. I agree. Not that they are “easy” to photograph…although they are LOL. I mean they are doing it for money, it is their livelihood and I never photograph them without paying something. Actually I don’t often photograph them anyway, though as yu say they are often very interesting. I see so many online! Same as today there was some sort of Zombie meetup in the city and I didn’t photograph them either for similar reasons…there are so many all over the net and nothing I can do will really add anything to what’s been done there. Would you get what I mean if i said those things are boring? same as buskers (don’t mean I don’t like them or find them boring but..well just from a street photography perspective


    • Yah, we are on the same page… It is fun the first time (I loved the first random time I saw the Zombie shuffle – and I happen to have a camera with me!) but I sorta realised they were doing all the work, not me!


      • exactly…funny thing happened yesterday though Before I realised about the zombie thing, I saw a girl on the steps at the GPO and she had this really nice white sort of sheer shawl over her head. So I made the photo..quite pretty I thought. Then last night AFTER I posted on here, I was looking at my images from yesterday and zoomed in to see the weird makeup around her eyes.she was one of them!! haha…Now I’m in a quandary..I like the photo but…hahahahaha



  1. SITHOM Exhibition – An Interview with Andrew Wilson | Inconspicuosity - February 27, 2015

    […] : Always pay the busker! They work hard for the money… and I don’t think I own a camera without aperture […]


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