I am also just beginning with street photography, and I am normally on the shy side, so I get what you’re saying, NIKH. However, this summer, I really learned that asking to take somebody’s photo can be such a positive experience.
I ask myself what makes me want to take a photo of a particular person. What do I like so much? The first words out of my mouth is a sincere compliment or enthusiastic explanation based on absolute honesty.
To the woman with the beautifully painted artificial leg: “Oh, my god, that leg is amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that! Would you mind if I take your picture? ”
To the couple on the bench: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but you guys are a just so beautiful and look so much in love, would you mind if I snap a few photos?”
To the teenagers downtown passing and smoking a vape: “Hey guys, I know this is going to sound weird, but the vape plumes you are making look amazing with the light behind you like that. Do you mind if I try to take a few pictures capturing that on film?”
This is all working VERY well for me. I’m still nervous doing it, but I’ve had very good reactions from strangers and some really fantastic conversations, so I am not as nervous as before.
Also, when people ask me if I’m a photographer, I say, sort of- I’m studying photography. If they ask where, I say online. This is all very true- I think even accomplished photographers would consider themselves students of photography. But people really seem to open up to somebody who describes himself as a student. I think it’s very nonthreatening to people. I am 47 years old with a football player build in so I realize anything that makes me seem less threatening is a bonus!
Street Photographer, Thomas Leugard, talks about dressing like a tourist, wearing a silly hat, etc – anything to make him NOT look like a professional photographer. While his intent is to blend in and take pictures without permission, I think wearing an enormous gear bag, carrying a flash in one hand and an expensive “big lens” camera in the other is intimidating if you want to ask permission. I have a “Hogwarts Academy” t-shirt, and you would not believe the number of people who compliment me on it while I am taking their picture- it’s a great ice-breaker.
These are some of the things that I have learned and have really helped me this summer. I am eager to hear other tips. I’m not adverse to taking candid photos without permission, but I think there is a special connection can happen with a stranger when you ask permission or take a street portrait. At any rate, I hope you can find some of this helpful.