Etiquette for photographing strangers

Etiquette for photographing strangers

We talk a lot about destinations and places to visit on this blog, but till today we haven’t talked about an activity that absolutely everybody does when on a trip – especially nowadays – and that is taking photographs.

When photographing building, objects or landscapes, there aren’t really many human-related problems to deal with, they’re more of the technical aspect of taking those photos, and we’ll talk about those in future articles. Today however, we’ll talk about photographing strangers, which can be a daunting task, but sometimes there are certain characters or poses that just cannot be passed over, especially if you’re a photography enthusiast.

Depending on the situation at hand, there are several ways of approaching photographing a stranger, and we’ll look at a couple.

Ask for permission

It is true that doing this will take away from the spontaneity of a photograph but it will allow you to use the ideal lens and get as close or as far from the subject as you want. You can also make sure that you have the right type of composition for the photo and since you’ve asked permission you can communicate with your subject as necessary.

Also keep in mind that you may be rejected, so accept it with good grace and make sure beforehand that there are no religious or cultural reasons that would discourage you or even prohibit you from taking that photograph to start with.

Approaching people

Simply lifting your camera up will usually get the attention of your subject as well as take your intention across. It might be a good idea to learn the phrase for asking permission to take a photograph in the local language. Approach the person with confidence and most importantly a smile.

Say ‘thank you’

This is something that you should learn to say in the language of the place that you’ll be visiting if you plan on spending any amount of time there, or if you’re surely planning on photographing people. Once your photo is done showing off the results on the camera’s screen to your subject is a great way of saying “thank you” and create a positive memory for them.