i have done this .. not recently but i have done this, and often ..
if you are on the street .. have a camera set up
i see from your profile you use a 4x5 or lager camera use that ...
maybe ask some friends you can "fake it with" so the people know what is actually going on ..
talk to them, engage them in conversation, tell them you are a traditional photographer
and you want to take their portrait with whatever contraption you have. give them a business card
and something YOU sign saying you won't post their photograph on ANY website without their consent
don't dress like anything but "normal" ( whatever that means )... get their name and email ( or give them a time and place
you will meet with them ) and when you have the photograph made show it to them, and GIVE them a copy and ask their permission to
publish or have a show with it, or have it in your portfolio.
over the years i have photographed a lot of strangers, on the street or in some sort of work environment. never really had a problem
except for once or twice ether when the person was trashed or totally paranoid ...
after a while i was hired by a company to do something similar. but they made the contacts / and i arranged to photograph the strangers.
it was still tense and sometimes strange .. and it usually worked out ..
expect a lot of rejection at first, working on the street making portraits like you plan to do, is very hard, leaps and bounds harder than
doing stealthy street photography with a long lens and 100 feet between you and your unknowing subject.
good luck !
ps. some brain feed
"Hi, I'm Parker Smith, can I make a portrait of you?"
It's a yes or no question. I'd say 95% of people say yes.
You have to be confident. If you launch into "um, it's a long story how I, um, I started thinking of, uh, maybe making pictures of strangers so I, uh, could work on some, uhhh......" the answer is always no.
Sometimes I don't even ask, I just hold up my hand like "stop!" and people will freeze right where they are! It's a trip!
As Ken said, it helps to have something other than a chump 35mm, because then you look like you are serious, and not just another 35mm chump. It's like "I'm going to take a real picture of you..." A look down through the ground glass always opens up the conversation. It's magic.
Thanks all you guys! I feel so much better now. I definitely said too much 'um...'
Janaian, those pictures look amazing!
Wow Ken, reading that routine, I totally want a picture taken now haha.
Rusty, dont worry about it, remember confidence is key! Also it might be easier to photograph certain people who are already dressed the part to stand out and attract attention. I find those folks usually would like to chat and that always opens it to asking for a photo. Parades and festivals are a good jumping off point as well, not just waiting on the sidelines, but if you are at the start or finish you can get some great snaps and chat up the groups of people there, and they are always game for a photo, especially one on film!
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im glad they fed your brain
Originally Posted by rustyair
when i first saw them, they fed my brain too !
My tip is to use the smallest camera with the smoothest edges you can find, because it's only a matter of time until someone tries to insert it "somewhere the Sun don't shine"
I'm as awkward and introverted as they come. If I can do it, I'm sure anyone can. It was only this past spring that I started (regularly) approaching strangers for their photos. I'm still refining my approach and I still get nervous, but I think I'm getting better at it. My general advice:
- Don't stalk potential subjects or linger in advance of approaching them. Best to look like you came out of nowhere.
- Be confident and direct. "Pardon, would it be alright if I get a picture of you (and the boy/young lady/your family)?" That's my approach line almost verbatim.
- Have a convincing response ready when asked, "What is this for?"
- Context helps. Go to parks, parades, festivals, ball games, car shows, etc. They're great for this kind of work.
- I'll second the notion that people who are ostentatiously (sharply or gaudily) dressed are usually more than willing to be photographed.
What follows, I won't call advice, but rather part of my m.o. This is what works for me personally:
- I don't outwardly promise anyone anything about what I will or won't do with the photo. This is usually because it simply doesn't come up. That said, I'll certainly respect the wishes of anyone who asks. And I'm not dumping these to the internet anyway.
- I carry business cards but hand them out only if people are interested -- or skeptical. I offer them a scan via e-mail and a print "if it works out." People typically don't follow up though.
- I don't detain or engage my subjects beyond the business at hand. If they're interested, I'll chat for a moment. Otherwise it's, "That's great. Thanks so much!" And I move along.
- I'm torn on the bit about the camera. I've taken lots of street portraits with my Olympus XA2. I travel light. That said, my confidence level increased, as did people's interest, when I lugged my Yashica Mat 124G to a local park recently.
The result? Most people (nine out of ten) say yes to me. In fact, what I'm finding, is that gaining access is the easy part. Composing a good portrait is the hard part.
At the risk of stepping on toes, something should probably be said about "profiling." Who you are and how you look (beyond "dressing nice") could have a lot to do with how people respond to you. People have their prejudices. Tattoos and piercings, for example, I think still put a lot of people off. So I can only speak for myself. I'm pretty featureless, for lack of a better word.
No, you need to work on why you think they look interesting, is it because they would "look" cool in *your* photograph or because you want to take the time to get to know their story, how they evolved as a person to become who they look like?
Originally Posted by rustyair
Do you have an assignment letter or letter from a book publisher? What is your purpose for the photographs because if you can not answer the questions I have asked you, then why do you want to take these photographs?
It's 2013 sir, too many hacks out there calling them selves "Street" photographers and slathering pictures of people they do not know or care about all over sites like Flickr like they were human prey who's heads are on display in a taxidermy shop. The days of Bresson and Winogrand have been pounded deeply into a permanent grave thanks to amateur camera owners who think of no one but them selves. Heck, I shoot professionally and do not bother people I am not assigned to photograph, I think it is super creepy in the internet age.
I'm afraid that unless you have a professional reason with official backing to do this, you are out of luck and rightfully so, no one wants to be the subject of photos they have no idea of what they are to become or why they are being taken.
Get a magazine or book assignment or, well....leave these people alone.
Last edited by PKM-25; 10-16-2013 at 02:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I've found, or at least suspected, your appearance to the subject matters as you approach. I'm 6'4" and go about 230# a bit of a softy really, but I'm sure that's not the first impression folks get if I approach them.