If you’ve been enjoying these POV videos, I got more of them for you! This is of a recent street portrait session I did in Seattle with this beautiful woman we met in the streets during a workshop. I recorded a video of me directing her on my Samsung Galaxy S6, and also shot while recording. Post-processing done in VSCO with the “dramatic black and white” preset.
Dear streettogs, I am excited to announce my new free book: “The Street Portrait Manual.” If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to build your confidence approaching strangers, how to direct your subjects, and not make photos that look “posed” — I think you will enjoy this one!
You can download this book for free below in the following formats:
This version has all the pictures and examples:
This version has only text, no images. Use these files if you want to read the book on a Kindle, e-reader, or if you want to edit, change, translate, or modify the text (as this book is “open source“).
- Google Doc (just text, please suggest edits here)
- ePub (just text)
- Microsoft .docx (just text)
- Apple .pages (just text)
- .rtf (just text)
Dear streettogs, if you want to learn more of how to shoot street portraits, I just put together a 47-minute video lecture for you! In this lecture I cover what “street portraits” are (and how they differ from “street photography”), how to approach strangers, how to overcome the fear of rejection, as well as practical tips for shooting street portraits.
To learn more about street portraits, check out my Chicago Street Portraits POV videos on YouTube.
30 Tips When Shooting Street Portraits
Below are some of the tips I included from the presentation on how to shoot street portraits (and a few extra freebies):
- Keep working the scene until your subject forgets about you
- Ask your subject to move to an interesting background
- You don’t need to photograph your subject’s face
- Take a photo of your subject looking at you / not looking at you
- Focus on the edges
- Ask your subject to look down / look up
- Provoke a response
- Remember you’ll never see them again (don’t miss out on the opportunity)
- Be genuinely interested in your subject
- Compliment your subject
- Talk to your subject before asking to take their photograph
- Realize that just because you had a good interaction doesn’t mean it is a good photograph
- Look for dramatic light
- Ask your subject: is it okay if I move you?
- Slightly touch your subject to change their posture, direction, or position
- Ask your subject not to smile
- Shoot both landscapes/vertical photos
- Shoot from different perspectives
- Get close, then get closer
- Talk to your subjects while photographing them
- Realize a posed photograph can look candid
- Capture the “unguarded moment”
- Try to shoot with / without a flash
- Capture hand gestures (get their hands close to their face)
- Shoot the same framing more than once (realize that their face direction might move, or facial gesture)
- Look for the surrounding environment (environmental portraiture)
- Realize a street portrait is more about yourself, not your subject
- Try to capture an “authentic” look that doesn’t look too posey
- Focus on details (use macro mode)
- Don’t feel guilty about “wasting your subject’s time” (they love the attention)
What are some tips you have when it comes to shooting street portraits, or any questions you might have? Leave them in the comments below!
In my street photography workshops, I often give the students a “5 yes/5 no” assignment. The concept is simple: you approach a bunch of strangers and ask permission to take their portrait. You intentionally try to get 5 people to say “yes”, and 5 people to say “no.”
Sometimes students struggle to get all 5 people to say “yes”, and sometimes students have no problem.
So what are some good strategies to quickly develop a rapport with strangers, and have strangers to say “yes” to having their picture taken?