Photographing a stranger can be difficult. They are stiff, uncomfortable, and they are not helping you to create the type of photograph you have in mind. Often, as a travel photographer you only have a few minutes with someone, and when you have only just met, this makes those few minutes very difficult. Here is a list of five steps to make your job easier by instantly helping to make someone feel more comfortable in front of your lens.
1. Make sure you offer a very friendly greeting.
Be genuine. Smile. If you don’t speak the same language, make sure that you learn at least the local greeting before meeting this person.
2. Have someone else there to make them feel at ease.
Have them tell your subject a joke. The more relaxed they are, the more they will open up to you.
3. Don’t make the person stand facing the sun.
Not only will paying close attention to good lighting make your photograph much better, it will ensure that your subject isn’t squinting and isn’t being blinded.
4. Make the setting as relaxed as possible.
Don’t just leave a person standing there awkwardly – take time to laugh with them. Ask them questions. Get to know them as well as possible. If you can ask someone to be there to translate, so much the better. If not, just do as well as you can.
5. Build their confidence.
Every time you look at the back of the screen to review your exposure and focus, make sure to let them know that they look awesome. Even if you haven’t quite made the photograph you are looking for yet, go ahead and say this anyway – it will help them feel more comfortable and relaxed which will help you get the photograph you want.