[Pho. Talk] How to Help Clients Find the Best Street Portrait Locations in Hong Kong

When planning for a shoot, I always ask my models what style do they want to go for. 99 percent of them would look at my portfolio and say, ‘street style’.

As a freelance photographer in Hong Kong, I have shot street portraits at so many locations that it is impossible for me to name it all. Besides, it would benefit you immensely to learn how to pick the perfect location specific to your upcoming shoot.

Find here a video version of a guide on how to scout out the perfect street portrait location in Hong Kong!


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Why people love street portraiture

When you flick through photos of yourself, you will realise that you like a couple better than the others.

These ‘nicer’ ones are not necessarily better from a technical aspect. In reality, you think they are ‘nicer’ because they capture the version of yourself that YOU WANT OTHERS TO SEE.

So, there must be something in street portraits that people associate their ideal self with.

Based on my experience (as a photographer-turned psychologist) shooting people from all walks of life, humans have an intrinsic desire to be MORE THAN JUST THEMSELVES. And having a portrait of yourself shot on streets is a great way to fulfil the psychological need to connect with the wider community.

Good news - this is a win-win situation. The model gets a little ego-stroke (jokes), while the photographer gets an interesting portrait.

Street portrait photography by Belinda Jiao at Shek Kip Mei with Bastian Carsana, represented by Elegance Model Hong Kong.

Street portrait photography by Belinda Jiao at Shek Kip Mei with Bastian Carsana, represented by Elegance Model Hong Kong.

How to determine the right location

That said, the location that works best on each individual varies slightly. Where exactly is something you, as a photographer, must work out for yourself.

But here are some general tips. I usually follow the order too.

  • Just ask

If the model approaches you, they probably have something in mind already. Ask them for samples of what they want.

  • Know the person

Sometimes they can’t articulate what exactly they want, or that they want you to make the call. Know their personality like how you make friends. Make small talks, stalk them a little (if they are on social media), and learn about why they want a photoshoot.

These methods help you get a feeling of how they’d probably want to portray themselves.

  • Create a moodboard

Moodboard created for Adidas Hong Kong’s mock brand shoot by Belinda Jiao.

Moodboard created for Adidas Hong Kong’s mock brand shoot by Belinda Jiao.

A moodboard is a set of images put together for brainstorming. Instagram albums and Pinterest are two great platforms to achieve this.

Here is an example of a moodboard I created in planning a mock brand shoot for Adidas Hong Kong. I put together photos that has a sporty vibe to show the team my ideas.

When models say they ‘don’t know’, most likely they don’t mean they ‘don’t know’ what they want. They just ‘don’t know’ how to tell you what they want. Once you present the moodboard, you will immediately get feedback from the model and can adjust accordingly.

Simply put, the mood board helps you to help models tell you what they want.


In this article, we talked about:

  • The best street portrait location is different for every model

  • Because people have unique ways of connecting with the community

  • Photographers can pin down the best location by the following 3 actions

  • Ask outright, know their personality, and presenting a moodboard

Still clueless? More sharing on specific locations coming soon!

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Keep shooting, keep creating!

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