Way back in 2011. I attended a festival in Croatia called Terraneo. With my film camera and a 50mm lens, a fellow blogger and I decided to take photos of strangers.
It was a new challenge because up until that point I had only photographed people I knew.
These are some things to keep in mind when approaching a stranger:
1. ASK FIRST
I’m not a fan of paparazzi-style picture taking. I perceive it as quite rude and would get angry if I were the person being photographed. Street photography sometimes feels like hunting, and if you share my view on this matter, then the best thing to do is ask.
I always keep it simple and straightforward, saying something along the lines of: ”Hi! I’m a photographer and I think you’re really interesting. Would you mind if I took a photo of you?”
It really helped, I must say, that I was shooting with an old film camera; that made a huge impact on everyone and, I guess, made me look trustworthy.
2. BE POLITE AND FRIENDLY
No one will say yes to a grim face. Friendly people radiate positivity and others are more inclined to trust them. A smile goes a long way. That doesn’t mean you should fake it and be all bubbly; that might seem too aggressive. Just a can-do polite attitude is well enough.
3. ACCEPT REFUSAL
Surely you’ll come across someone who will say no to you. Not all people like to be in pictures, especially if they’re being photographed by someone they don’t know. One bloke told me no, and added: ”But thanks for asking, I appreciate it. Nobody asks nowadays.”
When you get refused, thank them for their time and proceed, keeping in mind that it’s nothing personal.
4. SHOW RESPECT
If you’re planning to upload photos on the internet, inform the person beforehand. Tell them where they’ll be able to see the images and/or ask them for their email address where you can send them the pictures once they’re edited. When shooting, respect their comfort zone and stop when appropriate (there’s really no rule for this because everyone reacts in a different manner; observe and act accordingly).