STREET PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS (Photographing a stranger)


      Photographing a stranger is something that is intimidating to a lot of photographers and its completely understandable why. we are indulging ourselves into another persons life, and they might or might not be willing to let us photograph them. we might get turned down or forced to be in an awkward situation. but this struggle is something that is really fascinating because in a few short moments you can go from barely knowing someone to creating an image with them that captures their true personality in photographic form. Most people who enjoy street shooting, live for these pictures. Often unrehearsed, they are the product of year of practice or sometimes  dumb luck. but behind the camera, there are photographers who are constantly working of the nerves to take one more picture.
             People around the globe see photography differently. Nothing makes this more apparent than pointing a camera at someone. some are natural exhibitionist and others believe with religious conviction that photographs are evil. Unfortunately for photographers there are no name tags declaring, " i enjoy having  my picture taken."we must feel out our subject, maybe even interact with them first before they will allow their picture to be taken.I have been photographing strangers for long  time now, some were successful than others. luckily, there have been no disaster just a few sour faces. some agree to be snapped while others ask you a lot of questions like, where are you taking my picture?, who are you?..there are many challenges when you try to advance to a stranger asking them for  picture pose ..but below i will  give ideas on how to approach a stranger.


you see an interesting person by the side of the
road, before you stop him you must have an idea of the shot that you want to create of this person. what will they be doing?how will they be posing ?what will be the background?.

Old is Gold.  photo by Jessy Kigen  (Cyprus,Lefkosa)

street photography requires a lot of balls, you have to get close enough to your subject, and with people, invading personal space is uncomfortable (and possible hazardous to health) for both photographer and subject.shooting with a longer lens, it appears to be slightly snobbish- it isn't seen being hardcore enough. In fact , those days it seems if your not  at f/8 hyper-focal (the distance between a camera lens and the closest object which is in focus when the lens is focused at infinity.) and sticking your camera and flash right up to somebody's nose then you're not really doing street photography 

The original  photo by Jessy Kigen  

Actually there's another approach though. in my own opinion its much harder to shoot wide open with a relatively wide lens - say nothing longer than 35mm - and shoot without your subject knowing you're there. This is what i like to call stealth method - you dont want to draw attention to yourself and  better yet, shoot without even bringing the camera to your eyes . Normally it takes a huge amount of skill and practice to nail shots  this way, because you must be able to both guess focus correctly ( if manual focusing )or know where you AF box is going to go - and at the same time know your lens well enough to visualize the field view.
The eye should learn to listen before it looks  photo by  Jessy Kigen


It doesn't matter what you say to people, the most important aspect of approaching people is being genuine, warm, friendly and calm. people will read your body language before you open your mouth, so if you come off as tense they will probably think you are shifty. If you are not smiling, people are going to to think you're unfriendly of course being a bit nervous is natural, i still get nervous too. its totally normal but the more you practice, the calmer you'll become. Then you'll settle into yourself more, got a little pattern going and it'll be much easier, it doesn't matter much what you say , how you say it, or what  you are working on, how people  react to you is almost 100% because of your body language and the feelings you have when you approach them.                                                         

 "you can find pictures anywhere, its simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. you care about whats around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy".
                                                                                                                                  Elliot Erwitt. 
                                         BE QUICK, BE PREPARED 

Golden hour  photo by Jessy Kigen 

I took the photo above in Cyprus few weeks ago, i was heading for the sunset with my girlfriend on a project called TTRE (Through The Readers Eyes )which i will talk about in the future articles, As we were walking towards the sunset an old man driving a tractor passed at my frame and bang!! there it was. Because i was prepared with my camera and because i always see whats going on around me i was able to capture it straight away.  

To sum up -be friendly , smile,enjoy yourself. Remember this is fun, what we do!!!
have been doing this for 5 years now and i feel more rejuvenated to go and shoot more, meet new people, interact and learn from them.
please leave a comment below.

"If your Photos are  not good enough, then you're not close enough - Robert Capa.

written By Jessy kigen


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