How Do I Ask Strangers for Portraits?


When I am shooting on the streets, I often wish to make portraits of people but I feel afraid to ask them. How do I overcome this fear?
Anirban Ray, Kolkata, via email

This article was originally published in October 2014.

The very first step is to appear confident and not seem as if you are sneaking a shot. Approach people politely, and with a smile. Explain why you want to photograph them and what you intend to do with the image. You can be perfectly honest about this. Plenty of people don’t mind having their photos made. Take a moment to show them their portraits. This will win you more smiles and goodwill! If you frequent a place often enough, people start recognising you and become more forthcoming. However, there are instances when people refuse. At such times, move on and do not press your point.

Photograph/Natasha Desai

Photograph/Natasha Desai

Tags: how do i ask strangers for portraits, Q & A, shooting portraits