Wednesday, 3 June 2015

How to overcome your fear of taking portraits of strangers in the streets?

A good question. I was a shy guy more twenty years ago. I was always in fear of rejection etc. But then I made some new friends and we loved to loose some rubber on the streets with our skateboards. That made me more self confident. I did skate-videos at home and later I became a DJ and a VJ. That helped me a lot in overcome my fear to get in contact with other people. You have to go out and do something you love. Always imagine how great a portrait could look like and how much fun it could be to post process the images. That gives you power!

Photograph best friends by Nils Kuelper (robvisual) on 500px
"best friends" - (fuji x100s)

Here are my tips when you want to take a portrait of a stranger:
  • know the law - in many countries it is forbidden to take portraits without a contract (if your want to use them in commercial way) do some research. When you know your rights you are even more confident.
  • have a reason - don´t say: "can I take a photo of you?". There is no reason. Say: "Hey! I love your style and your longboard! can I take a Photo of you?". It is a known fact that a question with a reason opens more doors than without.
  • smile - don´t look empty or angry. Just smile and seek eye contact (without creepy starring!). Look for the body language. Are they smiling back at you? Open gestures?
  • try a conversation - with the great side-effect to learn more about other people
  • go to the website of Eric Kim - he wrote tons of lines about the whole topic

Photograph thomas by Nils Kuelper (robvisual) on 500px
thomas (x100s)

It is not important to overcome your fears in twenty minutes. Be patient. Do some portraits with people your know or with friends of your friends. That helps you to learn more about taking right portraits and how to deal with people when a camera is between you and the subject.

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