A different approach you might consider is to initially show a novelty camera. In addition to your regular (normal looking) camera, carry with you something like a Speed or Crown Graphic press camera. Or anything else unusual. When approaching potential subjects, this is the one you make the initial approach with.
My experience has been that strangers are overwhelmingly fascinated by usually older, novelty cameras. Often to the degree that many will observe you first, then come over and ask you to take their picture with it. I've had this happen to me with a 4x5 Crown. Two young ladies approached me at a state fair and literally begged me to take a picture of one while the other took a picture of me doing so. These two, had I asked them first, likely would have called the police on me as a stalker or pervert.
Once the ice has been broken and a degree of trust established, switching over to your "real" camera is almost never a problem. Just make sure to always offer the subject a print. Beware, however. Once you find how much easier it is to approach strangers with that novelty camera, you might just start leaving the regular one at home.
This also works extremely well with any large format camera. Subjects who wouldn't have given you the time of day if you held up an iPhone will wait patiently almost forever if you are setting up an enormous 8x10. The more different looking the camera, the better the reception you will get.
Here's an example from a Fourth of July weekend a few years back. I was wandering around town with a 4x5 Crown Graphic, looking at all of the various fireworks stands.
At one stand the lady behind the counter literally waved her arms and hollered at me to come over as I walked by. Then she told me to wait until there was a lull in customers. After looking at the camera (she loved the GG screen, as most do), I was pretty much forced by her to make an impromptu family portrait using it. She even made the new customers wait until I was done. And most of them were just as fascinated by it all.
No great work of art was created that day, but I did send them a copy of the result along with a thank you. And I never would have interrupted their business on my own just to make a picture. These people were total strangers to me.
Here is that photograph...
You could tell them you would email them a copy, send a lower-resolution picture (4x6) with a note explaining why it is lower-resolution and if they would like a larger-print, you would be happy to mail them one if they give you an address or meet you at a common location if you have time. For me, there is a big difference between an 8x10 print and a digital file which is 8x10 sized, if nothing else than most people have no talent at copying prints. Note that money is never raised in this situation, I don't charge them for their own picture. The couple of people who wanted a high-resolution shot emailed to them, I told them that I would trade them a high-resolution shot for a signed model release.
Originally Posted by cliveh
Good point about the exotic camera though - setting up a 5x7 in the middle of a farmer's market gave me a lot of interesting subjects, as did using a TLR (people thought it was a digital 3-D camera).
Perhaps the photographic challenge with photographing friends should be to show them as they don't see themselves, or as you don't normally perceive them.
If you have friends who are photographers, suggest to them a mutual portrait session as a learning experience.
Oh, and welcome to APUG!
I suppose it's just a matter of how you handle yourself. I seem to have no problems getting a number of nude art models that will work with me gratis, to say nothing of regular clothed people.
Evertime I take a picture of myself in the mirror I get in trouble with being a stalker!:laugh:
Another one of my favorite lines when approaching strangers is, "I bought this thing on eBay. I just got it yesterday. This is the first time I've actually tried it out. Whaddya' think?" Then hold up your novelty camera for them to size up while giving them some background info about it. Or even just hand it to them.
With the Crown I will sometimes open the lens, pop the viewing shade (an impressive audio/visual in itself), then just hand them the camera and tell them to point it back at me while looking through the open shade. By the time I've finished explaining that pesky upside down thing, we're darned close to being old friends. And by that point they're usually thrilled to have their photo made with it.
It's a fact that terrorists and pedophiles DO NOT use antique cameras purchased on eBay. Or hand them over to their intended victims first.
Move to Denmark , I am learning from gallery , there is lots of beatiful nudes there. Better to photograph a nüde than a photo lab guy.
asking some stranger to pose - I think much is about your attitude and your approach. If you think it is natural, you behave normal and relaxed, with big smile - people will be less tense and will be more willing to agree.
Always smile and be relaxed :), and half job is done.
You put your best foot forward and then just ask.. Some say no, some say yes. You can't worry to much or you'll just be a person without sitters. It really is that simple.