Mad men. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z
Mad Men. NYC, 2017

An insight that might help you in your photography: employ “tactful flattery” to get the shot you want.

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Why is flattery considers tactless?

Woman with cross neck tattoo. Berlin, 2017
Woman with cross neck tattoo. Berlin, 2017

In the past, flattery was seen as a vice. A lot of ancient Stoic philosophers warned us to beware flatterers more than enemies.

In today’s world, the same holds true. I’ve personally had my ego stroked too much — and got suckered into doing business deals I didn’t really want to do.

But, I like this idea of “tactful flattery”— where you are employing flattery in a positive sense, without the sinister snake-like intention.

Mad men

Mad men. NYC, 2017. Pentax 645Z
Mad Men. NYC, 2017

For example, in the above picture of the man with the cigarette, I told him:

I love your look. You look like that one guy from Mad Men.

He smiled, chuckled, grinned and said:

“Perfect. I work in advertising too!”

Benefits:

  1. I got the picture I wanted.
  2. He had his ego stroked, and he felt good about himself.

Everyone wins.

“I love your look”

“Can I get a picture of you closing your eyes?”
“Can I get a picture of you closing your eyes?”

A good way to give someone a tactful compliment, say “I love your look” or “I love your style”.

Woman with eyes. NYC, 2016
Woman with eyes. NYC, 2016

This is tactful because it is general enough to really apply to anybody. But also, it isn’t an obvious over the top compliment like “You are so beautiful” (this comes off as too strong of a compliment, and is a bit creepy).

Woman with hand. Green, red. Chicago, 2015
Woman with hand. Green, red. Chicago, 2015

How to interact with strangers

Man in window. Berlin, 2017
Man in window. Berlin, 2017

Other tips:

Be specific about what you find interesting about a person, and ask open ended questions like:

  • What is the story behind your necklace?
  • What are your dreams in life?
  • It looks like you’ve overcome a lot of difficulties in life.

Smile a lot, chat with people, and show genuine interest in your subject.

People can smell bullshit from a mile away. Be genuine, be you, and you will be successful in your street photography.

BE YOU,
ERIC

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