Improving confidence in Street Portaiture

June 15, 2013 § 2 Comments

Glasgow Mela in on this weekend (Sat&Sun) 12-8pm at Kelvingrove Park. Apart from watching this cool culture event. As a photographer who may be scared of capturing portraits of strangers; as in approaching the subject and asking for permission. This could be an introduction to practice your craft. At any festivals / gatherings. People are more socially open, so you should improve your confidence, communication and technique at these kind of events before taking stranger portraits on the streets. Just a tip!

Here are some photos I had taken last year.

By Zeno Watson

By Zeno Watson


By Zeno Watson


By Zeno Watson


By Zeno Watson


By Zeno Watson

Approach the people whom you find interesting. Introduce yourself, tell them what you find amazing about them. Talk to them about their image, interest, hobby / profession. Ask to take their portrait. If they so “no”, that is the worst that can happen. If they say “yes” you capture them, and thank them. Smile! Be relaxed and be yourself, if you are nervous they may sense it. If you love, love photography! Then you should be relaxed and happy.

Another good tip especially if you are like me, and always shoot manual; is to have your camera setting ready to shoot. So you are not fumbling about with the buttons/dials when photographing a person, taking up a lot of their time.

After you have captured their Portrait. It is entirely up to you, if you want to show them the photo on the LCD screen (if digital), ask for their email to post them the photo you taken, and if photography is your business, then perhaps give them a business card.

Once you become comfortable in your technical skills, then you should try and be creative. Direct your subject to look in to the lens or look away from the camera. Choice of shot full body, 3/4 or headshot. Ask them to pose a certain way. The list goes on and on.

Remember there are people who say you can’t and people who say you can, both are right! No excuses, get out there and capture the photos.

The biggest obstacles are in our mind.

March 25, 2012 § 6 Comments

Logically lay to rest your fear and become confident.

In Street Photography  I often hear verbally, in emails and on-line comments, “How do you have the confidence to shoot so close to people on the street?” and “Have you not been punched in the face / Are you not scared of being punched?”

Having confidence comes with plenty of practice, as well as a state of mind. If you go with the mentality that, what you are doing is wrong or that harm will come to you. You will either not shoot Street Photography, or come across nervous and project negative vibes, that people will sense from you.

To break the mental barriers, think about this. You camera is nothing new, they have been around in the last three centuries. So having a camera at hand should feel natural, especially in this tech driven world, the camera is more prominent and used more than ever.

The next hang up… Taking photos on the street. Well Street Photography is nothing new. There are plenty of books of fine Street Photography over many decades. So what you are doing is not cutting edge or odd. It should feel natural.

What other hang ups are there? Taking photos of people without their permission… In most countries (do your research) you are within your rights, to take photos of the public in public places, within reason. You are not doing anything wrong, so relax and capture that photo.

Any hang ups left? “What if the person I am capturing acts negatively towards me?” Remember be natural, smile and say thank you, or compliment them, 90% of the time that will help you. Should they persist, then you can either delete the photo (if digital) if they ask/tell you. Alternatively you could stay strong and believe in yourself and your work and walk on. Remember it is your photo, not theirs.

People will rarely challenge you, although the chances of being challenge will increase if you get in their face or be insensitive in a situation. Use your common sense.

So if you are new to Street Photography, do not put up mental barriers with pre-conceived negative thoughts. Go out and have fun capturing photos like the many thousands of photographers have done.

How to gain confidence in Street Photography

June 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

How do you gain confidence in capturing people up close?

I know a lot of people have hang-ups and feel nervous capturing the public up close, in fear of getting caught or get into trouble. And if you did try out street photography you would prefer to use a good zoom lens and shoot from safety. The problem with that method apart from maybe looking creepy, your photos can become detached and have a feeling of voyeurism.

I love to shoot from various distances depending on the scene, but I really enjoy shooting super close within touching distance using a 17mm focal length. Apart from giving you a more dynamic photo, it allows the viewer to feel part of the scene whether they like it or not, and connect with the photograph. I love the detail and senses that can be captured, when shooting super close.

So how do you capture complete strangers, super close with confidence? Well you could do it the hard way like I did taking photos inside abandoned asylum’s in the dark by yourself or do Parkour. After doing those I had the confidence to do almost anything.  Ok my more helpful advice is to attend events like festivals where there are a lot of people. The reason being you will have a great mix of people, who if they seen you taking photos probably would not mind or even not notice, as they are pre-occupied with the main event.

Look out for interesting characters and situations, as more often the people watching are more interesting to capture than the event itself. It is a great practice ground for you to train your skills and build your confidence.

So give it a try!


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