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  1. #1

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    Any tip on taking a random people's portrait on street?

    I went out today to do some random peoples portraits ( Not candid ) for the first time. Maybe something like this link below.

    Alec Soth's work

    http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/featur...05-04_full.jpg

    http://bumbumbum.me/wp-content/uploa...lec_soth21.jpg



    I asked 12 people and everyone said no because they don't trust me...
    Of course...I would probably say no if someone wants to take picture of me. It's just weird...

    Is there any tip on taking a random people's portrait on street?
    Last edited by rustyair; 10-15-2013 at 05:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    Fixcinater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rustyair View Post
    Of course...I would probably say no if someone wants to take picture of me. It's just weird...
    This is key, why would they let you take the image if YOU yourself believe it is unusual behavior?


    Did you take the time to explain why you might be interested in having/making that image?

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Hand them a business card as you are asking them? Offer a print in exchange for signing a model release? Dress nice?
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  4. #4
    hoffy's Avatar
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    I have tried it and I must admit its quite hard. A lot of it comes down to self confidence, which is something I lack at times. I tried to start a '100 strangers' project (check out flickr, there is a group for it) and failed after 3 or so.

    If I give it another try, I'll probably use events and functions to try at.

    Actually, using the 100 strangers project is a good idea. Tell your subjects exactly why you are taking there photos. Maybe even provide a link to the pictures for them to look at, if you put them online (but warn them that since they are film, it will be a bit longer till they are online!).

  5. #5
    cliveh's Avatar
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    I think you must always respect a persons right to privacy and not intrude on their personal space unless invited. In terms of your question, I would suggest you explain in detail and reverence to your subjects what you are trying to do. A light hearted approach may help.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fixcinater View Post
    This is key, why would they let you take the image if YOU yourself believe it is unusual behavior?
    First, It's not easy to gain their trust because I just met them and I understand why they said no. It's because they don't want to see their faces on weird nasty websites. So do I.


    Quote Originally Posted by Fixcinater View Post
    Did you take the time to explain why you might be interested in having/making that image?
    Yes I tried and answer was still no. The problem is I really don't know what to say..The people I asked looked interesting. That's all. How did you approach someone interesting? I need to work on my speech.
    Last edited by rustyair; 10-15-2013 at 05:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7

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    Thank your politicians and media scaremongering for many years now. I rarely get a refusal at a Sunday Market in Melbourne and almost never in a third world country like India.
    Internet doesn't help either. Saw a doco on Mc Curry just sticking the lens in people's faces without asking, didn't say how often he gets punched.
    Street portraits are actually quite hard.

  8. #8
    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    Good luck. Considering the proliferation of annoying phones on everyone's faces, all the time, I would venture out and say that most people in NYC are now more inclined to shove a camera up someone's butt than let them take their picture. At this point, as far as NYC goes, it takes a special person to do it, and very careful choosing of subjects. I find most people to be either fully engaged in their iCrap, or in a pissed off mood (because of it, and not) so thread carefully.

  9. #9
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Something I've mentioned before on this topic...

    Try to make every encounter a really special one. Something fascinating and out of the ordinary. Well off the beaten path. It's an approach to putting people at ease that I learned many years ago while working at Disneyland during my college days.

    One way to do that is by using what I've referred to previously as a "novelty" camera. It doesn't need to be a toy. Just something way out of the ordinary that doesn't resemble a digital anything. Something that jumps right out at strangers and engages them before I ever say a word. Doesn't need to be an antique, but those always work really well.

    I often use a (truly) near-mint condition 4x5 Crown Graphic that was purchased with that mint condition in mind specifically to attract attention. And boy does it. It's an instant ice-breaker.

    I also know the history in detail of both Graflex and my particular sample (right down to the month and year of manufacture), and can regale the potential subject with interesting background facts about the camera, the company, it's use in history (Iwo Jima, the Hindenburg, etc.), and long-ago photographers and subjects (Weegee, Murder Inc., etc.).

    After a few minutes of friendly chatting, telling a few fascinating stories and answering questions, I will often open the lens, flip open the GG hood (with a flourish, it makes a great attention-grabbing whoosh of a sound), and hand the camera to them for a look. And the inevitable observation "but it's upside down..." and "No, that's not an electronic viewing screen..."

    It's much harder to be afraid of a camera that you've just held in your own hands and looked through with your own eyes.

    More often than not I end up having the subject pleading for me to take their picture. And if they are also carrying their own camera I usually end up having to pose for them with my camera as well.

    To seal the deal I always offer them my email address (I never ask for theirs, especially if they are female, and I explain why), offer to send them a nice scan, and if they like that a follow-up mounted print (to a safe postal address).

    Finally I say, "Hold out your hands" and pop the used flashbulb into them as a souvenir. People just love that. I also always try to let them smell the still-hot bulbs in the Graflite right after firing, and explain how that's a rare and wonderful experience from a bygone era.

    Whenever possible I never use an electronic flash for people. Flashbulbs are a really big part of the attention-grabbing mystique. Plus, I like the quality of the slow-burning light much better, both for daylight fill and as a main source at night.

    Using this camera and approach I can count on one hand the number of refusals I've ever had.



    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Nadvornick; 10-15-2013 at 07:35 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Just a little more...
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  10. #10
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    People skills are critical. A friendly, engaging, sincere and slow approach. Street photography of people in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and in many, many other places in Vietnam for example is easy, fun and the people themselves are engaging with and love it, but always talk to them, shake their hand, perhaps even buy something from them, at least talk with them. This is the same for anywhere you are, but your first task is to instil trust and sincerity; people are right to question your motives — what are you going to do with their image? And why? he world is a very different time and place from 40 years ago when street pics was easy and carefree. Ubiquitous and thoroughly shit-annoying phone-cameras are the new norm in bad manners and appalling presentation; I can snap angrily if there is a phone flashing or ringing near my table in a restaurant; I'm sick of the bastards and their rudeness. We photographers, the real deal if you will, have more class and street-cred than this. Keep trying, but always give the impression, "I'm your friend".
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






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