Tips to Approach Strangers for Amazing Street Photos

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  By Jennifer Berube
Tips to Approach Strangers for Amazing Street Photos

One of the hardest things to do as a photographer is get pictures of strangers on the street. It is a lot like cold calling a company to see if they want to buy a printer from you. It is not an easy thing to do, and it is one thing that many photographers try to avoid with all their might.

The thing is, some of the best pictures can be of strangers on the street. Look at Humans of New York, which has millions of fans and is one of the most popular pages on Facebook. All of that is from approaching strangers on the street.

So, how do you do it? How do you approach strangers on the street? Here are some tips.

How to Approach

When you come up to someone who you want to get a picture of, always remember to never approach from behind the person. This can be a very threatening way to come up to someone, even if you don’t mean to be at all. Always approach the person from the front, even if you have to go to the other side of the street to do so.

It is often easier to approach a person who is standing alone. When with other people, the person may be hesitant to talk to you.

If you approach a person who is sitting down, then you should always crouch down. Never stand over the person when talking to them. Show respect and meet them at eye level.

Be polite when you approach someone, and just ask if they would mind if you took their photo. That is all you have to do. If they are hesitating and you believe that they are going to say no, then just explain why you want the photo and what it is you are doing. This often will help them say yes if they think what you are doing is interesting.

The Process of Photographing Strangers

So, you approach someone from the front and you ask if you can take their photo. If they say yes, or if they are hesitating, explain the project you are working on and why you want their photo.

You don’t want to just take a photo, you want to get a bit of a backstory about them and who they are. When you ask them about their life, never be too specific. Instead, ask them for a piece of life advice, or something like that. It can give you some great insights into a person and it can be great for your project.

Once you have asked that initial broad question, ask some more questions that are a bit more personal. By taking this risk and talking to the person in a more personal manner, you can get some great quotes and a great profile for your project.

Extra Tips

To make sure you get the picture that you want, follow these tips to make it easier for both yourself, and for the other person, when you are getting their photo for your street photo project.

– The most important thing is to make eye contact with the person. If you make contact, you are showing the person that you are open and you are being honest. If the other person won’t make eye contact, then leave them be and move on to someone else.

– Your body language says a lot about you. Approach someone with confidence, but don’t be overconfident. Treat the person as a friend, and keep your body language open with them.

– A great way to break the ice is to pay the person a compliment. Tell them they look nice, or that you like their hat, or their shoes. This is a good way to open up the conversation, and it will help to relax the person that you want to get the photo of.

– Create trust because it takes trust for a person to let a stranger take their picture. Establishing trust with the person will also allow them to open up to you more about themselves, and that makes for a better street photo project. Try to find a common interest with the person to create that trust.

– Lastly, have a passion for what you do. If you have a passion for it, that passion will show and it will make it a lot easier for the person to let you take their photo. You will also have a lot more fun with it and you will worry less about approaching people.

Street photography can be difficult, but it can also be highly rewarding. There are many problems street photographers face, so don’t let a fear of approaching people be one of them. Follow these tips and you will have no problem meeting people and getting their picture. It is a great way to really step up your photography game.

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Before I became Editor-in-Chief of PHLEARN Magazine, I spent over five years specializing in Photography Writing and contributed articles regularly to sites like PictureCorrect, Sleeklens, and PhotoWorkout. Photography has always been a huge passion of mine; I may not be professionally trained in the art, but the knowledge and experience I have gained writing about photography techniques, interviewing some of the biggest and most inspiring photographers out there, and covering industry events has been invaluable!

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