Posted on 29 March 2021
Street photography is not just about shooting candid shots when nobody is looking. Taking portraits with people’s permission (usually referred to as “Street Portraiture”) has been around for a long time and there are some stunning examples out there.
For your own project, try to shoot to a specific theme, such as people with a certain “look”, people in a specific location, people with dogs, people with their motorcycles, people doing a particular job – the possibilities are endless.
An assignment like this really lends itself to being immortalised in a photobook and you should aim for at least 36 images. Don’t rush it though, this can be a “slow-burn” project spanning several years.
View the images
- Simply walk up to your potential subject and say something like “I think you look good / I love your hair / what a cute dog – can I take a picture? Most people will be flattered or intrigued and will happily agree. Offering to send them a print to thank them for the time can also help.
- Think carefully about setting a style for this assignment. For example, you might include key background features to add context, or shoot with a shallow depth of field, or use a wide-angle lens from close-up, as in Bruce Gilden’s Faces project. Whatever you choose, apply your style consistently to your photographs.
- Be prepared for rejection and don’t be deterred when someone says ‘no’. You will be surprised at how many people will agree to pose for you, usually 80-90% of the people asked.
- Have some business cards printed that you can hand to your subject as you’re chatting to them. This will help demonstrate you’re serious about what you’re doing.
- If you’re nervous about doing this, start with people who have clearly put a lot of effort into the way they dress; they will know they look good and usually love to be asked if they can be photographed. If you think they look good chances are, so will they.