Hello all,

I've been lurking for several months now and this is my first time posting. I'm fairly new to film - I converted from digital almost three years ago, and have been learning darkroom technique as well ever since. In fact, my goal is to finally have my home darkroom set up by the end of the year.

I'm also still fairly new to photography in general; I fell in love with it about five years ago. I photographed everything - except people, because I was never sure how to approach strangers to ask them to pose for me, and so never did. But I'm trying to challenge myself to try new and different things, and I'm determined to learn portraiture.

Today I went to a camera shop to pick up some prints I had made to show to someone who asked to see my work (I don't have time to do anything in the darkroom before tomorrow, unfortunately, so I decided getting my negatives scanned and having them digitally printed would be a good compromise. Boy, what a difference in quality between an actual darkroom print and a digital print! But I digress). The man working behind the counter asked to see them, and we had a short discussion about medium format cameras, and printing, and the like. I paid, and left the shop. I was thinking the entire time we were talking that I'd love to photograph him - he's extremely good-looking but not in a typical way, and I think his features would be striking on film. So after I left I decided to just ask him if I could take his photograph sometime because how else am I going to learn to take good portraits if I don't ask, right? So I went back in and motioned him over. I told him I thought he was really interesting looking and asked if I could come back sometime with my camera and take his picture.

He was really taken aback, and said he didn't want to model. I said (already starting to regret this), "No, no, I just mean I'd love to come in with my camera and just have you pose in the corner over there or something and take a photograph." He told me he'd think about it and I left. The whole scenario was extremely awkward and I'm worried he thinks I was coming on to him (I wasn't).

Which got me thinking: how do you ask strangers to pose for you? Would I be better off just hiring models? I hesitate doing so only because I'm still so new to all this, and I don't have a studio or anything like that (I suppose I could just have them pose in my home - or would that be strange, too?). How do you explain to someone that you just like their look, and that you're not interested in them in any other way other than as a photographic subject (or if not explain it, convey it)?

I would appreciate any advice or insight.