Approaching Strangers to Make Their Photos

Joe and I were talking recently about events that we had recently photographed and how we approach people at public events. For Joe it was at a outdoor car show photo walk and for me it was the annual Gay Pride Parade in Portland.

Gay Pride Nuns

Gay pride close upI see a lot of photographers using a telephoto lens or trying to get the photo while the subject isn’t looking. Joe and I have a lot of experience photographing and learning to make people comfortable and would like to share a few tips.

First and foremost is to respect the person that you are shooting. They have a right to say no. You might even learn something. Joe has been looking for a VW Kharman Ghia for some time and a gentleman, whose car Joe admired, gave him tips on not only where to find a car but what months were best for car shopping for these VWs.

Second is to engage people in a conversation 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 and that’s what led him to talking with Marty about the 1958 Corvette that is on Joe’s post last Friday.

If you engage them and show interest 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 engage more with the subject. –Mark Toal with Joe Farace