Tips for Approaching & Photographing Strangers

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Street photography can be nerve-racking for some people. The idea of talking to strangers and/or capturing photos of them can be daunting. There are a lot of complaints people give for not doing street photography, but there are solutions to all of these issues. In this video, Adam Marelli goes step-by-step in discussing the top 10 complaints that he hears from street photographers:

Adam Marelli’s 10 Complaints About Street Photography:

  • “I didn’t want to ruin the moment” - If you’re awkward about it, yeah, you might ruin the moment. But just be confident and act like you know what you’re doing. You’re taking a photograph because you’re a photographer, don’t act like you’re spying on someone for the CIA.
  • “I only had 3 seconds” - You don’t always have to go chasing photos. Try finding a scene and waiting for people to come to you.
  • “It’s a game of luck and chance” - There is some luck and chance to photography, yes. We can’t change the outside light and we can’t tear down an annoying billboard in the background. But you can setup a scene, and you can make the most out of what you have. If it was all a game of chance, nobody could do photography for a living.
  • “My lens cap was on” - Be prepared. Simple as that. Lens cap off, settings adjusted, ready to shoot.
  • “I left the camera at home” - You won’t always have your camera with you, and you may miss some great opportunities this way, but don’t be dismayed. Bring your camera when you can. Leave it if you don’t think it’s a good idea. There will always be more shots.
  • “I had to shoot it from the hip” - Shooting from the hip can provide a neat perspective, but it’s very hard to control you scene when doing so. This is only leaving your good shots up to chance. If you need to shoot low, then get down low and frame the scene.
  • “I saw what’s-his-name do it” - Don’t obsess over what others are doing. Even if you admire someone’s work, you don’t’ want to copy it. Be original.
  • “That is how the scene looked” - When something obtrusive enters your photo on accident, don’t make up excuses. Find a way around it. Move around, turn around. There are plenty of ways to manipulate the scene to avoid things that don’t benefit your photo.
  • “When I zoom in, look at the detail” - Sharpness shouldn’t be your top priority. You’re looking for great images. Images that say something about the people or society. Sharp photos are great, but shouldn’t be your top concern.
  • “I don’t know what to shoot” - If you’re meandering about, it can be hard to find things to shoot. However, if you have something particular in mind, it’s often easier to find that thing. Have an idea of what you want to shoot when you leave the house. The more vague your idea is, that harder it may be to find.
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Be aware of your surroundings and look for those special moments

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5 Comments

  1. Jimmie says:

    Misleading title! I don’t see any tips on approaching strangers.

  2. David Halver says:

    My number one tip (unless you’re going to need a “release” to publish it); use a zooooom… and get completely “candid” shots. Depending on who you’re shooting, this can be dangerous if not deadly. Just a week ago a young woman was stabbed to death in Hollywood by a group of low-life losers begging for money… and they killed her BECAUSE just she took their picture with her phone!

  3. John Milne says:

    Use a rollei tlr. people don’t notice you much if you’re looking down and a rollei looks so old fashioned and eccentric people usually just smile if they do notice.

  4. Paul says:

    Another reason to use zoom is I have been threatened before by a father because he thought I was taking pictures of his 16 year old daughter. Threatened to call the cop.

  5. marianne sinatra says:

    I was told by someone who works as a photo journalist that public streets and areas are just that public and you can take pictures. I would like feed back on this.

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