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.
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- 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.