120 - How to make street portraits

EOS-120 How to make street portraits.jpg
Frank and Scott were one of my first street portraits.

Frank and Scott were one of my first street portraits.

I walked by Frank and Scott three times before I stopped and asked to take their photo. The two tattoo artists were joking around outside a tattoo shop, and I was out shooting street portraits for my 100 Strangers project.

Over the years, I’ve done photographed plenty of street portraits and even started teaching others how to do it. Most people I teach overcome the same initial fears and find that it’s a rewarding experience for them too.

Now, it’s your turn. In this episode, I will show you how you can make street portraits confidently.


Listen to the podcast


Takeaways from the Episode

Why street portraits vs. street photography?

Click to start your free training.

Click to start your free training.

  • I make a connection

  • I get a better story

Who do I approach?

  • Someone who looks interesting

  • Looks like there might be a story

  • The project itself breaks barriers

Approach to make a connection

  • The story usually follows

  • Use friendly energy and confidence

Flatter and appeal to our vanity

  • Use sincere compliments around your story topic

  • What drew you to this subject?

Start with these two questions. You get the action and the motivation.

  • What are you doing?

  • Why?

Listen and follow your curiosity

  • Go where the story takes you

  • Ask follow-up questions

Direct and collaborate for the best shot

  • Have your photo ideas before approaching

  • Direct the shoot. Your subjects expect it.

  • Pay attention to body language

  • Try their ideas, too

Take audio notes later (or written)

  • Be fully engaged when you listen

Should you ask for contact info?

  • I don't, but it depends on how you will use the photo.

  • Will you ever need to get a release? That's a good reason to have contact info.


Name your project. It goes over better with your strangers.

  • Humans of wherever

  • People in this City with Alvin Mitchell

  • We are all strangers with Greg Schmigel

  • Jim Darling - 100 Strangers


Who is off limits vs fair game

  • My first priority is to tell their story

  • Show respect and follow the golden rule

  • I photograph people who 'choose' to be there

  • Performers are fair game, homeless people get a pass

  • Unless...they have interesting stories