Hi Duncan, I love your candid people on the street pics. I've tried doing it but sometimes I feel like an intruder on their personal space. Maybe that's because I was in LA where everyone acts like someone with a camera is paparazzi. I'm curious, do you just point and shoot? Do you say thank you afterward or have conversation? Does anyone ever get offended?
Hi Suzilight - I usually try to engage the person. I spot something I like about them and say, “excuse me, I really like your style, do you mind if I take your picture?” The typical response is, “what for?” and I’ll say “I just take pictures for fun, and sometimes I put them on my blog.” If they’re hesitant I’ll give them my card, which has one of my pics on it, and the URL of my tumblr. If they say OK, I say “great, just do whatever you feel like doing.”
That’s usually how it goes. Some people say “no” and I say “thanks anyway” and move on. I get nervous about it sometimes, but I’ve found the arrangement works best when I’m confident and calm. If you feel like you’re invading their space, they will feel it too. So you have to come to peace with what you’re doing. It’s perfectly innocent. You can pretend you’re from another planet and you have to give a report on Earth Life back home. Or just drink a shot before you go out.
Sometimes I get permission and then direct the person to do what they were doing before I approached—sort of like staged candor. People tend to be more comfortable when you give them something specific to do. Some of my favorite pictures happened this way.
Occasionally I will be sneaky to get a candid shot. Some moments would be ruined if I asked permission to shoot them. If it’s a good enough picture, you have to be prepared to shoot and sprint. As Andrea Pelosi says, it’s better to ask forgiveness later than ask permission beforehand.
If you want to practice, try going to places where vagrants hang out. They will usually let you do anything for a dollar.
There’s lots of little tricks you pick up as you do it more. Hope this helps. Good luck!