melissa-freeland asked: Hi Khalik, I'm doing a street photography project for a documentary photography class that I'm taking, and I know that being in front of a camera can be very intimidating for many people. Is there anything that you do that helps people feel more comfortable around you while you're taking their picture on the street? I am more comfortable taking photographs of objects rather than people, and in this case, the last thing on earth I want to do is objectify people. Thanks for the help, Melissa
The first question is why. People don’t understand why someone wants to take their picture. And the next question is what is it for. I take the initiative and try to answer these questions before they’re asked. First I’ll stop someone and compliment them, and tell them I’m working on a Photobook and would like to have them contribute. People like to know they’re contributing to something positive. If it’s a woman I’ll compliment her but tell her I’m not trying to hit on her. Then I’ll say it’s for a righteous cause and not a porn site, because even fully dressed women think their picture is going to end up a porn site. I approach men differently, in a semi-aggressive way yet still disarming. I want them to feel comfortable but I don’t want to look susceptible. I shoot in an aggressive area so I have to approach people head-on and never freeze up with my words. If you’re sincere and just walk up to people and tell them what you need they’ll go that distance for you.
Thanks for the advice!