Portraits of Strangers: Don't Be Afraid, Just Ask

2011-12-28 28

Since we are photographers, we look at our environment differently. Everything is a potential subject. The images that appear in our photos already exist and it is our job to find them and put them on film. Sometimes, the potential subject is a stranger and we are too afraid to take a photo. if you want to get over this fear, this is the tipster for you.

The solution is so simple that it sounds stupid but it can change the way you take photos forever.

This is what you do:

  • Walk up to your “subject” and ask them if you can take a photo of them.
  • If they say yes, take a photo.
  • if they say no, it’s over but you will be happy knowing that you tried.

I’m not going to lie, it is a little bit awkward because you don’t know the person but the results are worth it.

And always keep in mind: The worst thing they can say is no!

They will say “no” if they do not want to be photographed. That’s it! Never let that stop you from taking an excellent photo.

Just be confident and think of the results. Don’t let a few seconds of awkwardness stop you from taking an excellent photo! I have only taken a few portraits of strangers because I am still new to lomo, but I am happy with all the results.

written by ivan_the_terrible on 2011-12-28 #gear #tutorials #quickie-tipster #california #art #tipster #random #portraits #strangers #portrait #mexico


  1. nuhdos
    nuhdos ·

    I've wanted so many times to take photos from strangers (it's better if I say dogs of strangers! haha) but never tried... Maybe one day I won't be so shy !

  2. ivan_the_terrible
    ivan_the_terrible ·

    @nuhdos: Inténtelo! :D te prometo que te gustaran los resultados.

  3. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·


  4. ivan_the_terrible
    ivan_the_terrible ·

    @hervinsyah: that's why you need to ask them first haha

  5. kiwikoh
    kiwikoh ·

    @hervinsyah I'm not sure about the law and culture in you country. Maybe taking photo of a stranger is consider a very rude and offence act in your country. As far as I know, taking photo of a stranger at a public place is legal in most of the country. I've done many street photography, sometime I ask, sometime I don't. But one thing you do need to remember is to smile. It work 99% of the time. Another thing is don't try to be sneaky. The more sneaky you are, the more people think that you are doing something bad or illegal.

  6. kiwikoh
    kiwikoh ·

    @ivan_the_terrible - Great article. Sometimes it just all about guts.

  7. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    love this article :D yeaah, I always ask them first and talk to them. It's nice to talk to a stranger and take a photo of them. It's a way to communicate :D

  8. eva_eva
    eva_eva ·

    I always wanted to do this. but....:D

  9. domo-guy
    domo-guy ·

    I just shoot from the hip... :D

  10. itisanormalname
    itisanormalname ·

    +100500 :)

  11. bridgetj
    bridgetj ·

    This is so true. I need to get over my shyness and do this more. Some of my favourite photos are the rare ones I've taken of agreeable, outgoing strangers.

  12. revolte
    revolte ·

    Es verdad, si disparas desde la cadera a veces la gente no se da cuenta de que los estás fotografiando, igual es mejor preguntar : D

  13. farhans
    farhans ·


  14. flykiwii
    flykiwii ·

    @hervinsyah . lol! this is why I am scared.

  15. elkedesmit
    elkedesmit ·

    I think I'm too shy for that but I must admit, the results are amazing!

  16. darkart69
    darkart69 ·

    i usually dont ask, try the hip shot..works..hehehe..but nice tip

  17. ivan_the_terrible
    ivan_the_terrible ·

    @darkart69 I've tried the hip shot a few times and the pictures didn't really come out how I hoped they would. I found it better to just ask :)

  18. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Great article and some really fantastic photos! It is those few moments of awkwardness that have stopped me taking many many photos. Maybe a I need a new years resolution to start photographing strangers.

  19. icuresick
    icuresick ·

    What's that thing in the nose of the man in the first photo?

  20. msnicks
    msnicks ·

    Tell people you want to take their picture because you're a photography student doing a portrait assignment. Works like a charm :)

  21. nanyeah
    nanyeah ·

    So true!

  22. babybuffalo
    babybuffalo ·

    You made me enencouraged! Awesome article <3

  23. foodeanz
    foodeanz ·

    I AGREE WITH YOU @domo-guy...from my experience, i only have i photo that i ask for permission...the result is ok...but my finger covered 20% of the lens...=( too bad..

  24. vanilajan
    vanilajan ·

    cool! i like it~!
    @domo-guy >yea, me too!with their natural movement!:D

  25. jarvislomo
    jarvislomo ·

    I just took the moment at first, then I look how the person reacts. Most of the people don't mind to be photographed, but maybe I should have asked their permission first. Thanks for the article :-)

  26. lomonesia
    lomonesia ·

    i wanna do that.But i'm shy :D

  27. susielomovitz
    susielomovitz ·

    here it is a nice story by @horaciorv about this> www.lomography.com.tr/magazine/lifestyle/2011/05/25/a-smile… NICE ARTICLE!!!! :).

  28. trash-gordon-from-outer-space
    trash-gordon-from-outer-space ·

    So simple, yet so difficult.

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