Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Do's And Do Nots Of Street Portraits
I get asked a lot about getting street portraits so here goes:
Grow some balls and ask ;)
The first and probably the biggest step is this, it can be hard and yes you will get some rejection but if you do not ask then you will never know. I work on a 10% rejection rate and for me that's good. If I ask 10 and only one says no its a good day but if I'm honest, its much less than that.
Have your camera set up before you ask, all you need to be fiddling about with is the exposure compensation, its no use asking and getting a positive reply if your subject walks off after getting fed up waiting.
Speak to the person, get their name and something about them, they are going to ask you the one question everyone asks, "Why do you want to take my image?" and that my dear friends is your cue. Have a reason ready, I usually say because they have life in their face and I love the way they look. When here expand on it and get some background to them and chat to them, you will be surprised just how much they will talk to you and how much they will tell but be prepared to give some information about yourself back. Its a two way street. Say nothing, don't converse and it will show in your final photograph, a person not at ease does not make a good subject.
Good old values such as thank you, please and on approach a simple disarming "excuse me but" will open so many doors when doing street portraits. Be rude and you will have the door slammed in your face.
Give them information
The majority will ask what will happen with the image, tell them, have a card handy with your contact information if needed, offer a copy of the image if they want it but be open and honest with them. If they ask and you do not say they are going to walk away and I would not blame them.
Look at your surroundings and where your subject is, do you want background clutter? if there is too much you move, not your subject, if they have agreed and you need them in a different position walk around them, they will instinctively turn to face you. If they look at unease while you do this then explain what you are doing but you have to do the work, not them, no one likes being told to stand here or there and so on.
Its the easiest thing you can do and yet so many don't bother, someone who smiles immediately disarms others. Most people will go along with a friendly face, look at salesmen and advertisers, they have been using smiles for centuries, they know it works.
Enjoy what you do
If you do it will shine through in your work and you will get to meet some wonderful people in the bargain