Street photography is one of the most beautiful genres, yet it’s one of the hardest. It’s not at everyone’s convenience to walk down the street and put the camera to their eye whenever they come across someone or something interesting. The truth is, a lot of people have an anxiety about being photographed and pointing a camera at them can be scary for both parties. Not to mention possible angry reactions from some subjects. Here are a few ways of countering these difficulties.
1. Keep it small
Don’t bring you’re the biggest gear you own because it will only work against you. People will spot it from miles away and they’ll probably start getting defensive and avoid crossing your path. Get a good compact camera. The Fuji X100 seems to be the favorite these days and it sounds like there are good reasons for that. It’s small, easy to work with and less conspicuous than a full frame body. If you’re shooting with a phone , there are great apps, that will temporarily black out your screen while using the camera.
2. Have your work with you
By that I mean, an Ipad presentation or some of your previous photos to show suspicious people what you’re about and that you’re not looking to damage their image.
- Street Photography Now
- The New Street Photographer's Manifesto
- Street Photography: The Complete Guide
- The Essentials of Street Photography
- Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
- David Busch's Portrait/Candid/Street Photography Compact Field Guide
3. Have a business card
It helps your credibility if people see that you actually work in the field. You don’t have to be a pro. Surely you can design your own John Smith –photographer calling card and have a few copies printed out in case of situations when you have to justify what you’re doing. If you’re working on a project, mention that as well.
4. Ask for directions or the time
Making people feel that you need their help will also make them feel less vulnerable. Asking for a simple thing like directions before you take out your camera could establish a short term relationship with your model that will help make the process easier for both of you.
5.Use a distraction
Bring a friend and pretend to photograph them. Elliot Erwitt used to do this with a family member. He would actually shoot with a long lens behind them. You could also pretend to be a tourist if you’re working in a big city. I’m not suggesting a Hawaiian shirt but posing as a tourist won’t draw that much attention even if you have a bulky DSLR strapped around your neck.
6. Just ask
A while ago, I wanted to try a street portrait project in London. The city is full of very interesting characters and I wanted to photograph a lot of them. However, I was finding it hard to just walk up to them and ask to take their photo. Finally , one day I got tired of wondering whether it would work or not and asked a girl if I could photograph her because she looked interesting. I was completely in shock when se said yes without asking any questions. I thought I was on to something so I carried on doing it. Out of hundreds of people , I think I got 10 rejections. People tend to be open to you if you are to them.
Also See: YOU MIGHT BE A PHOTOGRAPHER IF…
- Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites
- Understanding Flash Photography: How to Shoot Great Photographs Using Electronic Flash
- The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes
- Mastering Studio Strobe Lighitng: Beginning to Advanced Photography Instruction by Jay P. Morgan
- 75 Portraits: Lighting and Posing Techniques for Portrait Photographers
- Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers
- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
- 500 Poses for Photographing Men
- Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image
- Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and Infamous
- Shooting in Sh*tty Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Ralf Tenbrink