Tips on Photographing Strangers

Today’s Post by Mark Toal, with Joe Farace

Recently Joe and I were talking  about events we had recently photographed and how we approach people—that we do not already know—at public events. For Joe it was during a outdoor car show photo walk and for me it was Portland’s annual Gay Pride Parade. Joe and I have a lot of experience photographing people and learning how to make then comfortable and would like to share a few tips.

Gay Pride Nuns

First is to respect the person that you are photographing and remember that they have a right to say no. Gay Pride flag manWhen trying to get the photograph of  a subject isn’t looking at them, I see a lot of photographers using a telephoto lens instead of interacting with the subject. You might even learn something.

Second is to have a conversation with the person and talk about what they are doing or are interested in. Everybody likes to talk about what they love so let them, don’t try to tell them your story. Joe always asks about their car. Joe has been looking for a VW Kharman Ghia for some time and a gentleman, whose car Joe admired at a show, gave him tips on not only where to find a car but what months were best for car shopping for these VWs.

If you engage with people and show interest in what they do they will usually let you photograph them. I also find that using a mirrorless camera where I can be looking at the LCD on the back instead of the viewfinder allows me to more easily engage  the subject.