Fears of Photographing Strangers

Many of my students are concerned about how to overcome fears of photographing strangers? In which it turns to be their main problem. And instead of developing their skills or improving their artistic vision, they focus on their fears. Eventually it becomes a mission.

Fears are normal. We are human beings and they are part of our nature. When you approach a stranger and take their picture, it may bother them, but it will bother you too. As we are worried to disturb others. We should keep a distance of respect and value. Breaking this distance annoys both parties. Imagine that everyone in the community has their own private circle (personal space) around 2 meters in diameter. We always wanna keep it clear for our protection and comfort.

Keep in mind that in order to impose with your camera you need to be calm and smooth like a dancer. Show that you’re coming with peace and love. Be polite and nice. Don’t provoke others with fast movements. No need to be a blunt. Be confident, not arrogant. Don’t trigger their alerts by showing up scared. Avoid any tension. Just be a dancer.

Some photographers in order to overcome their fears they fall into sticking themselves into it and constantly they get trapped in their fears. Your mission is not go on the streets with a camera to confront strangers or to point your camera at passers. Your mission is to take good pictures. Don’t turn your passion to a complex. Channel your fears into real practice to conquer them. Be practical! Think about what you want to photograph? Why you want to photograph it? And how you want your subjects to look like? This where to start.

Think about the place, time and what’s going on? The place is your main factor. Pick it carefully. Where to go? Why? Wait and think about how to place your subject in the frame and how to arrange you composition to have a good overall scene. Then decide the time, when to take the picture? What’s around your subject? What is in the foreground and background? Do you need to wait for something to come in the background to balance your composition? Or it will outweigh it? What’s going in the scene? What’s the story? What’s happening? It is your message to the viewer.

When all the aspects; the place, time and the subject line up parallel for the right moment, take the picture. Using this way of practice will help out controlling your fears indirectly by channeling them into an efficient approach. Look at the outcome and assess your improvement. Best of luck!