Photography Challenge: 30 Street Portraits in 2 Hours

Finding the perfect shot is a never-ending goal for photographers around the globe. Options for things like backdrops, light setups, and model selection are virtually infinite. Many photographers spend countless hours and buy thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment in hopes of capturing that one perfect shot. But, photographer and technical editor Matt Higgs takes a completely different path. He poses a challenge to himself that requires him to take 30 shots of random strangers on the street:

Higgs heads out with camera in hand to find the beauty in everyday life while forcing himself to approach new people, a skill he admits he needs to improve. He learned some things along the way, and shares them so you can go out and complete the challenge, too. Here are five things to keep in mind along the way.

1. Confidence & Coping

It is counter-intuitive to approach strangers and ask for a photo. You must build up the confidence to do so and also develop a coping mechanism for dealing with the awkwardness of it all and the potential shoot down.

2. Be Happy

As Higgs says, “The most important thing when you approach people is to be happy.” This is absolutely true. When you approach a stranger, you have to come across in a non-threatening, friendly way that won’t make the person uneasy.

photographing strangers tips

3. Give Direction

The people you meet on the street probably won’t be used to photo shoots. Remember to be friendly but also give clear and concise direction to maximize the potential of the shot. If you aren’t pushy, most people will respond well.

4. Consider the Background

The challenge is 30 strangers but the background shouldn’t be ignored. Higgs suggests waiting for a subject to pass in front of a particularly interesting background before asking for them for the shot.

street portrait background

5. Keep it Simple

The people you want to photograph have lives too! Minimize the time you are taking out of their day. Save time by not using any extra equipment like lights or reflectors. Choose a camera setup that is quick and will work well in the various situations.

As you can see, the actual photography aspect of this challenge is not the difficult part. What the photographer learns when participating in this challenge is how to work quickly in an ever-changing environment.

The perfect shot may not always be the culmination of a team of dedicated professionals working round the clock toward a unified goal. The perfect shot may be a passing stranger on your daily walk to work or a stroll through the park with your dog. Do not allow yourself to miss this opportunity; prepare now by taking the challenge.

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