How to approach strangers on the a street for a portrait

Apr 7, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to approach strangers on the a street for a portrait

Apr 7, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Seeing a random person on the street that you’d love to photograph can rapidly become one of the scariest scenarios out there for many portrait photographers as soon as they start to consider how to approach them.  With “Don’t talk to strangers!” being drummed into us from a very young age, it’s just one of those things which seems hard wired into our system.

If the thought of asking a stranger if you can create their portrait puts you in a frozen panic, New York based portrait photographers Miguel Quiles and Jeff Rojas are here to help with some tips on approaching people you don’t know in order to get them in front of your camera.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydNwoLWr2VY

It took me a while to get over the fear of asking random people for a photograph, but when I finally worked up the nerve, it got me some fantastic images, made me some great friends and the more I do it, the easier it gets.

Big public events where people expect to be photographed, like street festivals, can be fantastic way of getting lots of quick “yes” answers without having to think too much about it, just to get you over that initial fear of approaching people.

Once you’ve got that basic fear beat, it’s just a case of refining your approach for every day people in the street.

Do you approach strangers and ask them if you can make a portrait?  What works for you?  Let us know in the comments.

Head image courtesy of Thomas Leuthard, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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